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Marketing Strategies: What to postpone, what to move forward in a crisis

Let’s face it: Q1 of 2020 has been a punch to the gut, especially for businesses. And the impact of that punch will likely be felt for months to come, as COVID-19 cases continue to build steam in the Midwest. Businesses across all sectors – from manufacturing to retail to professional services and beyond – are scrambling to mitigate the internal bleeding.

The most tempting reaction for decision-makers – and an understandable one – is to batten down the financial hatches and put a giant red X across all line-items with the word Marketing next to them, along with any other expenditures that can be eliminated or postponed.

More than ever, now is a time for caution as we contend with an unprecedented upheaval in supply chain reliability, sales growth and even employee availability, among many other obstacles facing businesses today. After all, as a business owner you have little control over any of those factors right now. You can, however, control your costs. And when sales are down, costs get cut. Business 101, right?

And yet.

There’s an old saying in the ad agency world: Market for tomorrow, not for today. Cutting off all sales and marketing efforts has the potential for even greater long-standing impact than the immediate ramifications of this pandemic.

No doubt about it: for short-term survival, slashing your marketing budget may seem like the only option. But before you slice that line item to zero, there are a few critical strategies to consider putting in place – strategies that will not only help your business better navigate the current crisis, but also position you to rebound faster once it’s passed.

#1: Communication

Communication – with your employees, your customers, your partners – has never been more important than it is right now. Maintain those key lines of communication to ensure your audiences are kept in the loop about how your business is being affected and how you’re moving forward to support them. That may mean social media, websites or email marketing, and in some cases, even direct mail. However you choose to get the information out, keep it coming. If you don’t have a communication plan in place, this is the time to develop one. We’ve created a free resource hub to help with that:

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#2: Sales Support

This is true for many sectors, but especially B2B: Most of your opportunities for new sales just fell through the cracks of COVID-19 as tradeshow after tradeshow was cancelled and face-to-face meetings became impossible as your targets began working remotely while juggling their own budget restrictions. Rest assured though: There are cost-effective strategies that can help overcome those obstacles for your sales team.

A big part of this ties into #1 above: Keep that communication flowing. Start thinking outside the box. Rely on tradeshows for most of your sales? Host a virtual tradeshow to make those same connections and introduce new prospects to your products. Invite prospects to a Facebook live event. Evaluate a Linked In campaign. Host a webinar. There are ways to continue pushing sales and networking buyers without breaking your shrinking budget with a huge campaign. Remember: Your buyers are also struggling to do business, and are looking for solutions. Now’s a great time to position yourself in that role.

#3 New Opportunities

Some industries actually stand to benefit from the current economic challenges as new opportunities open up to fill supply chain disruptions and apply existing services and solutions to new industries. Think about how the products and services your business offers may translate to another sector, and consider how your competitors may be affected by the same problems you’re facing. Are you better positioned to overcome those obstacles? If so, this may be an advantageous time to touch base with your competitors’ customers.

Is now the time to scale back wherever and however you can? Yes. But don’t get so focused on only today, that you forget about tomorrow. Make strategic financial decisions that position you for short-term success without sacrificing your ability to rebound in the coming months. Need help developing the right marketing and sales strategy? We’re here for you.