Paid Advertising During the Coronavirus Crisis

“We are all in it together”, while it might feel like the understatement of 2020, with the onset of coronavirus and social distancing, it’s more true than ever. Equally true, is the need for a continued voice and presence through the storm and the speed, agility and ability to reach a mass audience continues to make your paid media efforts as important as they ever have been.

Why maintaining your online marketing budget is important, even during these trying times.

We understand the challenges all of our clients are facing, we continue to work to provide the data required to make the best business decisions possible and the strategies to maintain business even during these trying times. What we have found amongst our staff and clients, is creativity, perseverance, communication and ingenuity to press forward. 

Paid advertising is shifting during COVID-19, and we wanted to share considerations for every business that can leverage advertising during this time.

Information is more important than ever.

Regardless of the delivery platform, from paid ads on Google, Facebook, Instagram or Linkedin, online paid advertising offers one of the fastest ways to connect to a broad audience who may not already know your brand or business, but the messaging of the times has changed and your online advertising is a rapid way to deliver the changing message.

Let people know you are open for business. This can include business protocols for safety, changing hours for business that can be open for in person visits, but is equally important for business shifting to remote conferencing, delivery or pickup. Ensuring customers know how and when they can reach you is more important than ever before. Even if you aren’t running ads, don’t forget to update your site and business listings.

Know what you CAN offer and get creative.

Restaurants quickly adapted to pickup and delivery to stay in business, but some of the best advertising has come from those that are limiting menu options for the day and offering family sized meals as pickup. Retailers had already made the shift to buy online and pickup at store, setting themselves up for the delays in shipping and stock that Amazon is now facing during this crisis. Clothing stores are getting creative with subscription boxes and pre purchase orders with return options. Consultation services have moved to phone and video conference.

Instead of offering the service you once provided, consider how you might be able to offer consulting or training during social distancing. What part of your service can you provide? Can you ship the components and offer an online fix it class or order the ingredients and offer a video cooking class? – how can you adapt your business and still get your name out?

Build Market share when others are pulling back advertising dollars.

If you are one of the fortunate companies with enough flexible capital there is an opportunity to remain the recognized name through the disruption. For those with limited budgets there are ways that you can maintain your brand presences and messaging even in small ways to ensure your business is quick to recover once the crisis ends.

Consider at least a minimal branding or social effort to keep your message, and brand on top of people’s minds, especially if you are doing something unique or charitable for your customers or community. Consumers will remember the business that offered a new way of doing business or support during these times. Leverage your website, blog and social media channels to highlight charitable causes and unique offerings.

Build better relationships

It’s common the end goal of advertising is the lead or the sale, but during social distancing it can be about building the relationship long term.  Companies are shifting their messages to one of consideration and sensitivity to the current environment. Think about the ways you and your business can be beneficial. Consider soft goals that will lead to long term relationships and growth post crisis for your business and brand. What can you offer at a reduced cost? For free?

Subscription services are extending free trials, and discounting add-on products and software. This comes with the understanding of “lifetime value” of their customers. A discount today could pay off in a lifelong customer relationship and ongoing return when times are good. A free seminar or consultation may provide a new level of value ad for your service or open up a new opportunity for your business. Focusing on newsletter signups now may create a larger audience of potential customers long term. Know the value of your soft conversions and how the effect of a multi touch marketing effort can help to speed your recovery efforts later.

Communicate More

Keeping your staff and marketing teams in the loop and aware of the changing environment can help your business pivot to the changing needs of the situation. Grocery stores took to this quickly seeing the need for senior hours and distancing guideposts on the floor. Your marketing team can help you rapidly shift your message, guide you to industry trends and show you opportunities you might be missing during this time.

Consider the advantages of more than one channel for your marketing and communication. Companies once considered “the yellow pages” as the only place they needed to advertise eventually shifted online. Now considerations should be made to what channels and how they can capture new audiences and deliver more tailored messaging should be the focus.

Look ahead, there will be a return to “normal”

There was a time before Amazon Prime, when ebay first launched and it felt like a website for a small local flea market.  What used to be small video sharing sites evolved into creator content, social sharing platforms and eventually into the on-demand entertainment industry currently keeping us sane, connected, amused and informed while locked in our homes. There was a college experiment where a student stayed in their dorm for a month and local restaurants rallied to build websites and online ordering platforms. Now the normal of our time, we take for granted the early days of the internet when these things were uncommon or unheard of.

Optimistically, we have a new chance to provide uncommon and unheard of solutions now more than ever, but all of these will involve ensuring people can find your business and Paid media still allows for the fastest and broadest avenue to reach out.

What normal will be after the current global pandemic might be different, but it will eventually return. How you position yourself and your business through the current crisis will shape what that new normal can be for you, and online information has proven more important than ever, that can and does include your online advertising dollar.

We are here if you want to talk through ideas and possibilities.