COVID-19 virus concerns continue to escalate in Toronto and across Canada, with 3385 confirmed cases as of March 26.
Ontario is under a state of emergency, resulting in many small- and medium-sized businesses temporarily closing their doors, or limiting their hours at the very minimum. On March 24th, the Ontario and Quebec governments ordered non-essential businesses to shutdown for the time being, in an attempt to control the growing number of COVID-19 cases.
So, it’s only natural for concerned business owners to lay-off staff and limit expenses during these closures, especially when everyone’s priorities are on essential resources and the well-being of family and friends.
However, if you’re cutting costs, you’re probably taking a hard look at your marketing and advertising efforts and debating whether they’re worth it during the coronavirus quarantine.
We know times like these can be difficult, and that can lead to emotional decisions that can be detrimental to your brand when these times pass. For some businesses, now can be an excellent time to push their marketing endeavours and gain more market share; for others, it’s wise to pause costly campaigns, but focus on organic initiatives and marketing communication that will keep your audience engaged and you top of mind when life gets back to normal.
In business for over 20 years, EDEN has rode the wave of two recessions, for ourselves and our clients – here are some recommendations based on the current state of affairs:
Staying Top-of-Mind, Even When You’re Closed
Retail and other ‘non-essential’ brick-and-mortar businesses are shutting their doors to curb the spread of COVID-19. So, it doesn’t make much sense to spend advertising dollars on driving people to physical locations.
Owners of these establishments shouldn’t shut down everything, however.
However, here are some suggestions on what you could be focusing on at this time:
Advertising channels like email, social media, and most importantly, your website, are more vital than ever to stay in touch with existing clients and nurture those relationships.
When everyone’s regularly-scheduled lives resume, they’ll be back to being loyal customers, knowing you stuck around during this quarantine. So if you’ve had to close your physical location for the time being, work on improving your website, blogging, and creating content on social media and email to stay connected with your customers and audience.
Find a way to be creative. For example, fitness studios are using social media and email marketing to provide existing members with words of encouragement and daily workout routines to help keep them healthy, energized, and positive. We can all use a little physical and mental fitness at this time!
Businesses that Benefit From Advertising Right Now
Big brands such as General Mills continue to invest in advertising at this time (indeed, they’ve actually boosted their marketing spend).
But what about small- and medium-sized businesses that don’t have unlimited budgets?
With people stuck at home, products and services that make the experience more manageable are thriving. Besides the obvious raw food products, medicine, and hygiene items like toilet paper and hand sanitizer, things such as electronics / electronic repair shops, electronic games, board games, online programs, and e-learning are all in high demand. Some businesses, like small local grocers, are even starting delivery services to capitalize on this massive stay-at-home market.
So if you’re an electronics store, specialty games shop, or a provider of online classes or e-learning programs, this is an excellent time to invest in digital marketing channels like social media, email marketing, and paid search. People want your products and services now, and these three advertising channels are the quickest way to get your products in front of the people that need them most.
Additionally, with less companies advertising at this time and a lot more eyeballs glued to the internet, this could be an opportune time to get more market share at a lower cost on Google Ads or social media channels. Your brand can accrue more impressions with the large influx of online traffic currently.
Now’s the Time to Lay Business Foundations
Maybe you don’t have a business up and running quite yet, but you were in the process before COVID-19 derailed those plans.
We think you should continue working on that business plan (what else are you going to do at home anyway?!) if you’ve already secured funds and you’re almost set to launch. Use this extra time to solidify your marketing foundations, such as your branding, website, web hosting, social media setup, etc., so you’re ready to go once everything gets back to normal. More importantly, use the experience and knowledge of what the world is going through to further tweak and revise your plan to be bullet-proof.
If you’re a startup looking for help with your marketing plan or launch, check out our Business Startup Package for Entrepreneurs.
If you’re still in the very early stages of starting your business – maybe you have a rough business plan, but nothing in terms of funds or loans – we suggest exercising restraint and delaying your plans for the time being. Use this time to plan, plan, plan, but make sure you have funding before you take money out of your pocket to start something new.
We’re in this Together!
COVID-19 is unlike anything we’ve experienced, which adds even more stress and pressure to hard-working small business owners. Remember not to panic. Take a step back, and evaluate the long term projections of your business. These times will pass, and you and your business will be all the wiser and better if you can manage to get through these challenging times.
We’re all in this together!
As a digital marketing agency founded by entrepreneurs, we’d love to hear about how you’re overcoming the challenges COVID-19 is presenting your business. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, and share your stories with us!