March 25, 2020

Start Planning Marketing Strategies Today for the COVID-19 Recovery Ahead

By Jonathan Ebenstein, Managing Director, Marcum Strategic Marketing and Bob Goricki, Director of Digital Marketing, Marcum Strategic Marketing

Marketing Strategy During COVID-19 Strategic Marketing

As the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic continues to unfold amid mounting recessionary worries, critical resources and variables for most businesses remain uncertain in the short term. Yet, one thing your business can and should do now is position itself for a swift and strong recovery when a sense of normalcy begins to return. The checklist of marketing strategies below is designed to help your business understand best practices for leveraging various marketing tools and tactics in the short-term, and determine potential fits within a long-term marketing strategy.

1. Reevaluate Your Current Marketing Strategy

If the COVID-19 pandemic causes bad or inappropriate timing for promoting and selling products or services, it may provide a good opportunity to address things that typically are long overdue for an overhaul. For most businesses, this starts with the marketing strategy. Now is the time to pull out that five-year plan that’s been collecting dust on the shelf and reevaluate your marketing needs today and in the future. This way, when things stabilize, you will have a plan to “reenter” the market.

2. Improve Your Website Visibility

Make Sure Your Google Analytics are Configured Correctly
Google Analytics is a website analysis tool that helps you analyze your business’ website traffic. With your customers and prospects now turning more than ever to the web, it is essential that you ensure website best practices are being implemented, and that you are using data effectively to drive marketing efficiencies. Do you have Analytics Goals set up correctly? Have you connected your Search Console? Have you defined what you are measuring? Are you taking advantage of all the free data that Google Analytics provides that can shape your strategy?

Conduct a Technical Website Audit
Technical errors can prevent your website from being easily indexed by Google. A technical website audit can quickly spot website errors that impede user experience and hurt SEO. In many cases, the fixes may be easier than you think—and the results could boost traffic and enhance user experience.

Revisit Your Keyword Research and Implement Search Rank Benchmarking
Knowing how and when your customers search the web for your product or service is vitally important. Identify your valuable keyword targets and develop a plan to improve your rank where needed.

Mine Your Sales Team for Insights – and Develop Content to Drive Website Traffic
Your sales team may likely have additional time available now, given fewer in-person customer visits and less travel. If so, this presents an ideal opportunity to harness their knowledge and insights, and apply it all toward creating unique content for your business’ blog, newsletter and social media feeds. Ask each sales team member to provide the top 5 or 10 questions they receive from prospects about your products and services. Each response could likely be the foundation for a valuable piece of web content. Need convincing? Consider: For every time a sales associate fields one of these questions in person, that same question could be searched dozens or even hundreds of times on Google or YouTube. Use this downtime to generate content that can drive more prospects to your website over the coming weeks, months and years.

3. Consider Digital Advertising Tools to Expand Your Reach

LinkedIn Sponsored Posts and Facebook/Instagram Advertising
With trade show and event attendance likely to suffer for the foreseeable future, it may be more affordable than you think to reach specific target audiences directly in their social media feeds with targeted messages. LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram all provide easy tools to quickly estimate the cost to reach a very specific set of their user base.

Google AdWords
As demand eventually returns for products and services, placing targeted and well-crafted Google Ads can allow your brand to appear front and center in key search results. Google’s Keyword Planner tool can easily estimate search volume and estimate cost per click for search terms that are vital to your business.

Account-Based Marketing Display Advertising
In name, this may not currently be as well-known to businesses as other digital marketing tactics, but it’s an extremely valuable tool—and your business should consider it. Account-based marketing (ABM) focuses your business’ marketing efforts on a key list of target businesses and contacts. ABM will allow you to be smarter with your ad spend by targeting only the businesses that are your “best fit” prospects with ad messaging specifically targeted to their hot buttons.

4. Transition Tradeshow Spend to Industry Print and Digital Publications

If you rely on exposure from industry trade shows and events, you may want to consider paid placement in those organizations’ print and digital publications to keep your brand in front of your target audience. This is a great time to round up media kits and reach out to reps who may be in a position to offer a more attractive price for key exposure.

5. Reevaluate How and Where You Sell Your Products and Services

Utilize Creative Approaches to E-commerce
Does your product/service mix translate to e-commerce? Consider even non-traditional e-commerce avenues such as webinar subscriptions, online training/consulting or premium content/thought leadership. Allowing customers to place and modify orders online, subscribe to recurring product orders or even build a custom quote may ease some of the burden on your sales team. When regular travel resumes, it will give them more time to meet with prospects and grow your pipeline.

6. Improve Processes

Embrace Marketing Automation
Marketing automation is the lowest cost, easiest and most effective way of keeping in touch with your customers—and it is especially important for businesses that can’t currently rely on outside, face-to-face sales efforts. Sending out personalized, contextualized and targeted messages to customers and prospects who want to hear your news is the most impactful way to remain top of mind and relevant in today’s COVID-19 environment.

Use Customer Relationship Management to Its Highest Potential
When it comes to new sales, your lowest hanging fruit may actually be your existing customer base. A well-maintained customer relationship management (CRM) system can provide you with the knowledge and insight to maximize the revenue potential of your current client base. CRM solutions may cost much less than you think and provide real, long-term value to your business.

Integrate Video Into the Sales Process
Video used in the sales or service process can add a personal touch when it may be difficult to travel to meet personally with prospects and clients. With working from home becoming the norm in the short-term, getting comfortable with these technologies now can offer cost savings down the road. Consider using video marketing tools such as Animoto, VideoScribe, Loom or Biteable.

7. Ensure Timely and Effective Internal Communications

Leverage Your Internal E-newsletter
With all the uncertainty in the world today, it is more important than ever that employees receive proactive, clear internal communications that inform, reduce fear, uncertainty and doubt, and also set realistic expectations for the business going forward.

History has shown us that businesses that have refocused their marketing spend versus drastically cutting or eliminating it during economic downturns have emerged on the other side to outperform their competitors who went dark during that same period.

The current crisis will eventually pass, and better times lie ahead. Think about ways that these checklist items apply to your business today, then determine how current resources can be applied toward integrating them into your short-term marketing approach. At the same time, consider how you can leverage these tools and practices – or variations of them – over the long term as part of a broader strategy to drive qualified leads, keep employees and customers/clients engaged, and boost revenues.

We understand that these are difficult and stressful times and we’d like to help by offering you a free website audit report. If one of your main goals is to drive more relevant traffic and provide a better user-friendly experience for your visitors, a website audit is a good place to start as there are always ways you can improve your website, even if it was recently built.

To learn more about our free website audit report, please email Jonathan Ebenstein.

Coronavirus Resource Center

Have more questions about the impact of the coronavirus on your business? Visit Marcum’s Coronavirus Resource Center for up-to-date information.