Although the news cycle shifted quickly and seemed to have turned the world’s attention away from the virus and into other matters, the lingering effect of COVID-19 is barely rearing its head. The reality is that (at the time of this writing) the unemployment numbers were up to 40 million people. The news, however, is not all catastrophe and suffering. After all, this is a robust economy that was put on pause with millions of people ready to go back to normal and enjoying life. NBC reported in early June that the economy gained 2.5 million jobs in May and the unemployment rate dropped to 13.3 percent despite the slow reopenings and partial shutdowns. This is a clear indication that the U.S economy is resilient and itching to bounce back.
So what does this mean?
It means that there is potential for stability and even growth after a recession or —in this case— a nationwide shut down. What’s important, is looking at consumer behavior patterns that seem to happen during recessions or economic downturns and seeing how your business can stay ahead of the curve.
The virus pandemic was different from any other recession we’ve had, as it was self-imposed and saw an uptick in traffic for some businesses and a major downfall for others. For example, if your website sold baby products or other essentials, you may have seen a rise in online purchases. If you are selling televisions or clothing, you likely suffered considerably. Nevertheless, the internet is a fantastic place, where the right photo, the right post, or even the right strategy in customer communication can keep you at the forefront and maintain your business.
Take a look at this example outlined in Forbes magazine. Evil Genius is a local brewing company in Philadelphia. During the shutdown, they saw their business come to a near-complete stop. This caused them to lay off staff and quickly start to lose money. Instead of panicking, they decided to think outside the box.
A little marketing can go a long way. The two owners of the brewery knew that a majority of people found themselves on social media so they decided to do something that might get a little attention. It just so happened that a little show called Tiger King had been the topic of discussion of millions of Americans since the lockdown began. The two brewery owners decided to do a little online marketing that referenced the television show and put up some photos of their new brew named after the show and another beloved TV giant, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. In an oversaturated social media landscape, this got people talking. They also focused their message on social responsibility using clever emojis and even offered a free beer to frontline healthcare workers.
So, what are some ways to survive a recession?
Think Creatively and Tailor the Message
Connecting with your customers during a tough time is necessary. Offering reassuring messages that emphasize an emotional connection and understanding are essential. It not only keeps you active on social media, but it shows your business is part of the community. Also, depending on the type of business you have, you can find creative ways to connect with customers. It’s not always about advertising the product, but about showing customers you are with them. It’s time to show empathy. After all, the ‘we’re all in this together,’ trope is actually very real when the majority of people were locked in their homes, prevented from working, losing income, or going nutty with kids in the house 24/7. The human experience was shared by everybody and listening to these cues can help you tailor your message to the times. The lockdown and slow opening is a time that everybody suffered together, so take that experience and make it part of your message.
Be Sure Your Business Has an Online Presence
If you hadn’t noticed that everyone was online, surely this pandemic was a harsh reality check. Search traffic increased considerably during the pandemic and will likely remain high as people readjusted and figured out they could do things online like buy groceries or order food. Search Engine Optimization is more important now more than ever, as it promotes organic traffic and gets you onto those beloved search engine result pages (SERPs).
Be Flexible and Adjust
Everyone falls into a preferred way of doing business. Most breweries, for example, were not used to having 100% of their business be curbside pick up. So the businesses that were required to change did so. Those that stayed calm and adjusted fared better than those that panicked. Let’s be real, when is panic a solution to anything? So you have to move to pick-up. Think of creative ways to stay on top of it. Print nice menus. Invest in attractive signs. Create promotions specifically tailored to the situation. Connect this effort with your social media presence and website and it’ll be even better.
Consider Pay-Per-Click Advertisement
If there was ever a time where there was a major shift in how people buy and spend, we certainly saw that in the first half of 2020. PPC marketing allows you to connect with potential customers and gain a competitive advantage. Because of the current circumstances, cost-per-clicks have actually decreased by six percent across the board.
Stay optimized, stay creative, stay ahead
If you suddenly find yourself with less staff or with reduced office hours, you might consider putting a little more into your online marketing including your website, content, and social media plans. Climbing to the top of the SERPs does not happen overnight, but a bolstered full-fledged approach can get you there.
Marketing During a Downturn — Keeping the Ball Rolling and Having a Strategy
The pandemic caught everyone by surprise and many business owners found themselves blindsided by the sudden shutdown. It was “sink or swim” for many. It separated those that could think on their feet, adjust, readjust, and keep communication open with their customers, clients, or customer base and those that stalled. According to Harvard Business Review, marketing should be balanced with efforts to pare costs and shore up short-term sales against investments in long-term branding. Ways to do this include streamlining product portfolios, increasing affordability, and bolstering trust. Depending on the kind of business you own, here are a few approaches:
For Essential Businesses:
- Emphasizing price
- Offer smaller packages or lower-priced options
- Emphasize dependability and service
- Focus on customer connections
For More Non-Essential Businesses:
- Hold prices down
- Consider advertising as a “you deserve it”
- Emphasize outstanding quality and local
Stay Calm, Think Outside the Box, and Tell Your Story
We know your business has a story too. Dealing with business owners from all walks of life and a variety of backgrounds, we know that no business started without its turbulence, trouble, and/or sacrifice. It’s why here at AGI Marketing, we focus on telling your story and finding the best way to connect with your customers. Whether it’s through content or social media campaigns, looking for the message that resonates with your base. It was a difficult time for everybody and it will take some time to restore normality. Online marketing, however, is suddenly many people’s recourse in getting seen. Let us help your business thrive through difficult times. We are here. Call us today and find out more.