One thing everyone is aware of, is that the world has changed. It has changed economically and socially. In different countries and regions, we are starting to emerge from our bubbles to a different normality. Most people are also aware that in the last big economic downturn, the GFC, those who invested in their brand and marketing activities came out of it stronger than their competitors.
Knowing this is one thing, but for many solopreneurs and SMEs it is daunting to start contemplating investing in these activities when the market is uncertain. Many have also just gone through a period of limited or little trading, with only government subsidies managing to cushion the blow of non-existent trading conditions.
With this in mind, I have provided a list of free or low-cost activities that you can undertake to start supercharging your marketing efforts. Below is a simple, practical and effective list detailing five things you can do.
- Update your outdated website. You haven’t done anything new since 2011 – Really? It is quite common for this to happen. You started a website, launched a business and then got busy. However, for any potential new customer, you now look like a business that is potentially inactive. You will also start to drift in the google rankings. Google is hungry for new content and however good your SEO set-up was back when you started, like anything worth investing in in business, your site needs new content and/or its existing content updated, to keep performing well.
- Revisit your target audience. The economy and society have changed post pandemic. Some sectors will struggle for a long-time, e.g. international tourism. Consumer confidence will dip. This means that the business plan you wrote 5, or even over 10 years ago is probably not relevant right now. So do your research again. Think about who your target market is now, and how their sector will come out of lockdown. This will help you align your products or service to their ‘new normal’.
- Understand your key messages and tell your story. Now is the time to plan and invest in your content marketing strategies. It may not be the first thing that you’re keen to do, but it pays to have a plan for this. Start by putting together a list of ideas for content. Link these to the services you provide or products you sell. Next, you will need to think about your intended audience and make sure your content is focused on them. Next, it’s time to get writing. This may seem scary but there’s lots of great advice on how to do this, like this article by Stephen Mayall, on Flying Solo.
- Build a ‘target’ media plan. It will pay dividends in so many ways to get published on external sites or online magazines. In fact, if you can manage it, there’s still a lot of value in being published offline too! However, you want to be published in places that your target market reads. If you’re an accountant, then a start-up or SME website may work well, it is unlikely that being published in “Horse and Hound,” will have any tangible benefits. So, build a plan of where you want to be published and then who you need to talk to.
- Work on your ‘content’ pitch. Editors and publishers get approached all the time. So why should they take your content? That is the key question you need to ask yourself. If you can start a conversation and clearly articulate why your article is beneficial to their audience, then they are very likely to publish your content. Can you commit to providing a series of content on related stories as opposed to hap-hazard ad-hoc pieces? Different publications work in different ways, some like timely pieces tied to news events, others a more structured forward-planned schedule of articles. Knowing this will help you fit in with how they work. You’ve invested a lot of time on your content, so it pays to get your pitch right. This article on writer’s digest gives you some in-depth tips on how to pitch your articles.
Doing the above will start to get your brand and business back in the minds of your revised audience. You should also make sure you promote your own content across your own social media channels – LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, whichever ones that are must suited to your business.
As a final tip, in the current climate don’t discount investing in advertising. In many cases the cost of advertising has come down, and while it may seem opportunistic to cash in on this sector’s misfortune, the reality is that if you don’t, your competitors might. If you do consider this, have your budgets clear along with the reach and deliverables you want from your advertising spend.
While the above may not seem ground-breaking it can have a big impact. Remember, investing in your brand and marketing efforts now, will help you come out of the COVID-19 economic downturn as strong as you possibly can.