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Back in 2008, we made some waves in the online business community when our fearless leader used the term “recession” in a featured article he wrote that was sent out by Zig Ziglar. Even though no one would argue that we weren’t in a period of economic down turn, it was Zig’s policy to never use that word. And a decision was made to strike it from the lexicon of Grow the Dream (then Epiphany Marketing).

While I don’t think anyone’s throwing around the term now, there’s no denying that the global pandemic has led and will lead to many more economic struggles. Where I live in Hollywood, we’re seeing things triple-fold. The day to day entertainment industry is on hold. The films & TV shows that were finished are being held or eked out, despite complaints from Amazon customers. And because our rates of infection and death are so high, the government is gun shy about reopening theme parks and theaters.

Who knows what the final impact will be on the Southern portion of California. There’s a ripple effect even on industries not tied to entertainment. We’re not waiting for just the other shoe to fall, but the rest of the Nike store.

Can’t Stop; Won’t Stop

When things get tight, it makes sense for you to look for expenses to trim. We go down to the bare bones, the basic essentials. And, in part, the isolation – forced or not – has helped with that. You can’t run to the salon and get your hair done every week, ‘cause they’re not open. I’m not a big hat guy, but after 25 weeks with no haircut…

But the one thing you simply cannot cut back on if you want to have a good chance of emerging from this pandemic with a business intact, is marketing. And it’s not just me saying this. Forbes, Deloitte, Gartner and more are all preaching not scaling back, but accelerating.

We actually proposed a similar strategy in 2008/9, when digital marketing was still learning and growing. Now, thanks to high speed Internet and companies like Zoom, Amazon, Facebook, and of course, old standbys like WebEx and GoToMeeting, few would deny the power of online business. Online is what’s saving our businesses, and sometimes our sanity.

And it’s not just the typical sites or the Amazons that are benefitting. Reports say online sales are almost as high – and in some cases much higher – than what we see on Black Friday weekend through Cyber Monday.

Now is not the time to lose momentum, but to start building it back up.

What Should You Focus On?

1. Maximize Organic Search

This doesn’t mean paid ads, or likes or bots to prop up your search results. You can’t fake or manipulate organic. You can only grow it. And that takes a well-crafted website that echoes your strategic work. I’m not going to spend a lot of time rehashing the last 2 months of posts (you can find them here), but there are two things to consider.

Is your site showing up when the people who need and want to buy from you are looking for just that item or service on Google (and maybe Bing)? You know who your ideal customer is and what you’re selling them – when they search for that, are you on the front page of the results? If not… The second important factor is conversion – do they drop in and leave? Or do they stay and explore, maybe download a lead magnet, read a few articles. If your site isn’t building relationships with potential customers, then it’s just wasting virtual space. You have some extra “free” time now – even if it’s just the saved commute.

Oh, and keep up with your content blog – it’s more important now than ever that helpful information is generated that draws people to your site.

2. Build Community

Even before the pandemic thrust us into the very weird world of 2020, community building was the buzzword that was driving marketing, both online and in person. Here’s a hint – being online makes it easier, if you are truly committed to it. Continue to build and strengthen relationships with your past customers. Give them an opportunity to partner with you to both your advantages. Write an e-book, start a podcast, get the word out about you, your company and what you stand for. Gathering like minds and encouraging them to help and support one another makes you a hero – and builds loyalty and engagement with your brand.

3. Get in Alignment

There are two ways this one works…

A. Make sure everyone knows your mission, your message, your ideal customer, and goals. This is NOT the time to compartmentalize. You want everyone on the same page – especially if they’re spread out and/or working from home. Transparency is your friend. Share the knowledge and responsibility with all the members of your team, and you’ll likely notice them find new ways to elevate it.

B. If you’re talking to or emailing an actual person and not an annoying AI or chatbot, you don’t want to have to explain yourself 2 to 10 times. Yet, you almost always have to. Make sure everyone has the same information. You don’t want your employees transferring an upset customer to make it someone else’s problem, so make sure the customer’s information travels with them.

4.  Engage on Social Media

Social media, whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok, Snapchat or Twitter is growing. It’s never stopped and now people have more time to waste spend on the platforms than ever before. Will you have to work harder to stand out amongst the political and pandemic related posts – yes, of course. That’s where the above points fit in. Your strategy and ideal customer profiles will tell you how and when to engage. Having an aligned message and growing community will give you a clear area to emphasize and the specificity to emerge to the people looking for what you offer.

Now looking back at the list I just made, you may notice something. Very little of it costs money. Some aspects are more time consuming than others, but they’re all do-able and affordable, even if you need to outsource some of it.

And even if you don’t see an immediate bump in ROI, remember, this is a process. Things have slowed down due to a global issue. But when the world starts coming back to life and everyone’s rushing to get back in the game – you’ll already be ahead of them.

Right where you want to be.