The Best Approach to Marketing Coming Out of the COVID-19 Shutdown
Mid-March will forever mark where 2020 sales began to free fall for many companies. Tack on a month’s worth of down revenue in April and the uncertainty of May and there is no doubt that 2020 balance sheets will have a large, gaping hole to fill. Now the question is – how do you make up for these losses in the coming months and brace yourself for an uncertain fourth quarter?
The vast majority of businesses are ravenous. They want to start selling, start marketing, and get back on track.
For those U.S. “small businesses” that were fortunate enough to receive federal government money via the CARES Act’s Payroll Protection Program (PPP) loans, they will have a funded workforce ready to produce for at least the early summer months. Therefore, these summer months will be critically important to make up for lost revenue, start closing deals, and work to insure against, dare I say, another possible shutdown in the fall or winter.
With this heated anticipation and desire to make up for past losses, there is also the added challenge of reduced advertising budgets. Previously set budgets have, in most cases, been reallocated (if not completely thrown out the window) to deal with unforeseen problems, pay fixed costs, and keep the ship above water during this crisis. In this unprecedented environment where marketers are going to need to produce more with possibly less, I offer this advice:
Your marketing needs to be immediate, decisive, and efficient.
As a digital marketing expert with an agency that has over a decade of experience, I have some advice for companies that don’t generate the majority of their revenue via e-commerce. More specifically, I’m speaking to these three groups:
These are businesses in which customers need to come on premise to buy or receive services such as dining, hospitality, entertainment and such. This also includes companies who offer products for which consumers want to touch, feel, and see before they buy. This pertains to specialty retailers, clothiers, and custom product manufacturers.
For the sector of companies in which on-site tours, demonstrations, and in-person meetings are required to gain a customer, as well as those where specialists must come to the consumer’s location to provide services, the shutdown and social distancing have been an absolute deal killer. This advice is certainly for you.
Lastly, many B2B companies saw a drop off in sales due to the fears of uncertainty and the cautious pausing of spending. This advice helps you to directly “ask for the order” again.
So here is my advice: I strongly urge businesses that fall into the categories I listed above to shift your budgets to PPC advertising.
For a quick refresher, PPC stands for Pay-Per-Click, a form of online advertising in which your ad can be displayed infinitely but you only pay when someone actually clicks on your ad. A single, efficient action from your ad to your online property.
Why PPC is the Best Solution
PPC advertising has a laundry list of benefits, but I want to focus on the three primary reasons it is the best solution for businesses who are struggling in this current climate.
PPC is the Usain Bolt of digital marketing. It’s quick to get started and the results are immediate. PPC ads can be “instant on” with the power to reach as many, if not more, prospects than you can handle. If you’ve got the budget, you can be seen by as many people as any other medium can offer. With paid search and static social media ads, production time and design costs are very minimal. With ads and committed budgets in place, the traffic can immediately flow. While search engine optimization (SEO), social media posting, and branding campaigns are all important, they just can’t match the immediate, controlled, and granular reach of PPC. Apologies to our SEO team. I like what you do too.
It’s time for decisive action and tunnel vision focus. You need the ability to market your product or service to the right audience. Supporting this objective, focused messaging needs to be combined with hyper-targeting. With search engine paid advertising, you can target key terms combined with a user’s income and location, along with an overlay of interest data, served as a specific day or hour.
As much as I dislike Facebook personally, I can’t deny the deep data they are willing to share, which allows targeting by gender, age, location, and interest. Facebook and Instagram also offer the visual power of advertising – photos, videos, and animation, to educate and entice the buyer. With PPC hyper-targeting, there’s no waste as seen in broadcast and print advertising, which broadly include populations that cannot or would not buy.
Now is not the time to be wasteful or exploratory. Nor is there the luxury for traditional ad testing that takes too long from which to pivot. With PPC’s ability to control the cost per click, as well as daily budgets, your spends can be uber controlled. Being such a nimble medium, pivots can be made quickly to adjust bid rates, messaging, and targeting. There’s no other advertising model that matches this control.
And as a reminder, make sure tracking is in place to understand what you’re really accomplishing. Be able to measure results through the lens of customer acquisition costs. Refresher here.
My List of Must-Have PPC Tactics
These are the specific tactics I would consider going all-in on:
- Google paid search (AdWords)
- Bing/Yahoo paid search (if budget permits; AdWords first)
- Google Shopping (if applicable, can also result in an in-store visit)
- Facebook ads (Bonus: Video ads if you have effective, explanation type video ready to go)
- Instagram (video ads are best; Eye-catching visuals second best)
- Youtube pre-roll video ads (if budget permits after social media)
- CPC banner ads with custom messaging per user (may require larger budgets for this sophistication)
Trust an Agency That Practices What They Preach
While I hope this advice is helpful to others, I am also taking it myself. Our digital marketing agency has been extremely fortunate during this crisis. We have had no clients requesting major pullbacks on previously committed programs and we have a temporary safety net as benefactors of a PPP loan. That said, deal flow has slowed, and we too need to be proactive for stability and prosperity through the remainder of the year. Past success does not guarantee future success. I love paid search, and maybe never more than now. We are readying our campaigns.
Now is the time to position your company for the re-opening. Increase budgets as you can. And don’t dilly dally. If you’d like additional advice on PPC advertising or an audit of what you’re currently planning, please reach out to me directly: 610-225-1100 x700. I’m happy to talk through your challenges. No cost.