The arrival of the global pandemic has devastated the economy in the United States and worldwide. Now that a vaccine exists and companies have put safety measures in place, economic recovery has begun.
However, we are still dealing with the aftermath of the coronavirus, which means lower consumer spending. This is surely frustrating, but eventually, your business will return to pre-COVID levels. You can use any slowdown you're experiencing to take steps to make your business stronger. One of the most productive things you can do when business slows down is to work on your marketing strategy to gain a competitive advantage over companies that are similar to yours. Below are some ways to gain that very advantage.
Don't Sacrifice Your Marketing Budget
Many businesses view marketing expenses as non-essential costs, so they cut them first when times are tough. However, slashing your marketing budget can lower your sales, leaving you worse off than if you had shifted budget cuts to another department.
Reducing your marketing budget reduces the likelihood of attracting new business, and it can reduce repeat business from existing customers. Slashing marketing costs often results in a slowing or stopping of communication between your business and potential or existing customers, who are left feeling uncertain about the future of your business. Similarly, marketing is more than placing some ads; it's also about building your brand and creating brand loyalty. When you don't spend money to keep your brand relevant, you almost guarantee customers will forget about your brand and go elsewhere.
Invest in Content Marketing
Content marketing refers to a specific type of marketing that focuses on creating and publishing marketing content about your business to a specific online audience. For many companies, content marketing is part of their broader digital marketing and social media strategies. Successful content marketing requires a consistent distribution of material, which means it takes time to see results, making a business slowdown the perfect time to expand your company's blog and provide regular content.
When you invest in content marketing, you build a stronger relationship with your audience as you build trust in your brand. Engaging content captures their attention, improves their engagement with your company, and also makes it more likely for them to recall your brand when they are making purchasing decisions. Additionally, content marketing is more than 60 percent less expensive than traditional marketing. It generates as many as three times the leads, making it a great solution for businesses going through a slowdown.
Experiment with New Channels
Regularly publishing blog posts is one of many channels businesses use to market their products and services. The most successful marketing departments experiment with other channels to see if their ROI increases compared to their current marketing practices.
Podcast ads and branded podcasts have increased in popularity, especially with people staying indoors due to COVID-19, making them an exciting channel to experiment with during a business slowdown. In fact, a Nielsen study showed that podcast ads are 4.4 more effective than online display ads. Additionally, podcast ads provide about a 10 percent uplift in purchase intent.
Engage in Consumer Research
When business is slow, you can also use any extra time you have to engage in consumer research. Changes in the economy typically translate to changes in consumer behavior, making any models you currently rely on less relevant. Revisit your initial research to ensure your targeting the right groups. You want your marketing to appeal to the right kind of demographics and psychographics.
In addition to reading up on existing research, you can also conduct your own consumer research. Consider surveying your current customers to get an idea of what has changed for them during this time, so you know the best way to market to them and new customers. Engaging in consumer research helps you continue to put your customers first and keeps you relevant as you tweak your approach to retain existing business and attract new customers.
Your competitors will likely scale back their marketing efforts during a slowdown. Instead of following suit, you can use this opportunity to increase your market share at the expense of your competition. Additionally, if your competition does not cut their marketing budget during a slowdown, you risk losing your status and reputation with your customers as your competitors leave you in the dust. Economic downturns and slowdowns are stressful and adversely impact your business, but you can ramp up your marketing efforts to get through the tough times.