By the time that all of this is over, COVID-19 will have shaped a drastically different image of the American workforce. Whether your company was ready for it or not, we all had to adjust to the reality that many jobs can be done from any place in the world. In this specific situation, nearly all non-essential workforces have had to either adjust to remote work or to shutter their operations while this all plays out temporarily. It is hard to really quantify the truly staggering effect all of this is having now and potentially for years to come for the entire global economy. One thing is sure, people are going to be able to leave their houses sometime soon and resume some version of their everyday lives. Provided the damage done to the economy in the US isn’t too profound and that the proposed stimulus programs for individual citizens and small businesses have the desired effect, the economy stands to experience a boom. One thing is for sure, if you’re a small to medium-sized business, you’re going to be looking to hit the ground running with your marketing as soon as we can get back out there.
There is a longstanding joke about coming up with marketing plans, and it goes something like this: Step 1: Come up with a marketing plan. Step 2:…… Step 3: Profit! In typical situations there are many strategies to break into new markets or to expand reach. Everything from sign spinners to Facebook boosted posts are some things that your company has maybe considered or even tried. Well, sadly, having Steve stand outside and wave at traffic while trying to flag people into your business isn’t necessarily the best use of marketing spend. This is especially true when you consider the limited reach that it would have in respect to the money paid to have someone on staff full-time. Digital campaigns can be much more effective because they don’t require someone to drive by to see your sign or to open physical mailers.
So, you’ve decided to take part in a digital marketing campaign. Lots of people look at campaigns structured around social media networks, and depending on your business, that might significantly limit the number of users that you can reach. You might also be interested to know that depending on the demographic that you are trying to go after, such a large portion of that audience might not be the right age. As time has gone on, Facebook has trended more and more toward an older demographic. Newsweek had a fantastic article a couple of years back titled “Facebook is Officially for Old People.” The trend of Facebook having less of a grip on young people has continued. Many people that have Facebook accounts only have one to get access to Instagram or other gated social networks that the Facebook brand controls. Facebook has continued to artificially inflate some of their numbers to keep their presence at the top of the Social Media pile. Long story short, you need to cast a much wider net to capture a terrific group of users to start then to parse through to build a quality list of prospects to target.
One of the most important things for you to look at before you dig into the weeds for your digital marketing plan is how your business has traditionally earned business. Is it from foot traffic in a mall or near a shopping center? Are you getting a lot of your business from web searches or a digital-only presence? You are going to need to lean into your strengths at first to start your ramp up in the coming months for your marketing plan.
If your business is one that has been located near a popular area of town with lots of foot traffic, we have some good news. There are tools out there that we can use to pull foot traffic data from the past. We grab user data on their mobile devices that were with them at the time to build an ideal client list and design a display ad campaign. This targeted approach shows on their device and stays after them by displaying on all of their most-used apps and in-browser activities. Here in Louisville, the Frankfort Avenue area and the Bardstown Road area are home to some of the best small shops, restaurants, bars, and boutiques in the city. Those businesses are some that are most at-risk coming out of this situation and are ones that would benefit the most from pulling user data from back at a time before life had been disrupted so significantly. I can’t count the number of times in the last couple of weeks that I have had a conversation with someone where we get talking about how we are so excited to go back to all our favorite spots in town. So, that is going to be a very competitive space coming out of this situation, especially given that many people have had a lot of financial hardships in the last few months. The average potential customer is going to have less money to spend on going out than they did before. So, getting your business out in front of people and getting your brand back in their mind is key to success as we move out of this lockdown.
If your business has traditionally earned a lot of your business from web searches, you’re going to be in a very competitive space in the coming months. Many companies have taken this time since the lockdown to strengthen their SEO presence to ensure that they place higher organically in Google searches. Many have also bolstered their keywords and have written a lot of content for their website. Without a doubt, that will drive organic traffic to your site, not unlike the blog you are reading now. So, taking the near-term to shore up your current website and looking into ways to improve your organic search quality on Google is going to be paramount to success in the coming months. Improving that SEO ranking will pay dividends from months or years to come, especially if you’re currently investing in Google Adwords or have any interest in doing so in the future. The one thing that you must keep in mind with Google Adwords is that the quality of your website can drastically affect the cost of your Google Adwords. The way that Google looks at it, if your website has a bad SEO score, you may be a spam resource. Google is “taking a risk” on your website selling you Adwords if your site is potentially spam. They will still sell you Adwords, just at a significantly higher cost.
The next few weeks and months are going to be very interesting as the world starts moving back into normal operation. Fewer seats in restaurants, smaller gatherings, continued financial hardships for businesses, and consumers are going to be the new normal for a little while. So, as a small business, now more than ever, it is vital to reach out and build relationships or to welcome back your longtime customers through effective digital marketing. Making more out of less is going to be something that we will all have to do in the coming months. I am sure that we will all prevail, and this will seem like a distant memory in time. But there is no doubt that the Covid-19 pandemic of 2020 has reshaped businesses and consumers for years to come.