An unexpected global pandemic pushing a bull market to the brink of Depression isn’t how anyone planned their 2020 revenue projections. The goals set at the beginning of the year are largely unattainable for most businesses, most of whom find themselves quickly pivoting product, marketing, and hiring plans.
There’s nothing easier than blatantly cutting marketing budgets. But many executives find themselves wondering how they’ll emerge from this if they do. I’s possible for most brands to drive revenue and connect with customers and stand out organically by understanding their unique strengths and relevance. Everything listed below can be done without any ad spend.
“Waiting it out” compromises opportunities to adapt and differentiate your brand during this time. Focusing on engaging and providing value to your current customers can build both retention and brand awareness, especially if you optimize for longer-term returns.
Some universal truths:
- Buying cycles are longer or interrupted in B2B. Consider adding value and building your brand
- Some B2C offers are thriving, with unique, timely offers that are a welcomed distraction for customers stuck at home. If you have something valuable to share, don’t be afraid to test out an offer.
- Retention is always the primary health metric of any business. Focus on these efforts, and consider allowing downgrades, extended free trials of new products, or deferred payments.
- How you handle a crisis says more about your brand and company than any marketing efforts can. Be transparent, compassionate, and don’t react out of fear – even more so for your employees than customers.
Consider these free marketing strategies to grow your pipeline and maintain as much revenue generation as possible.
1. Provide a Case Study
Is there a product you love, or brand that’s done something novel to make this crisis more tolerable for your company?
Offer to provide a case study or video testimonial for them to publish on their website and distribute through their own marketing channels.
They may have a bigger audience than you do, and be excited to share your story. If their marketing team doesn’t have the bandwidth to write up your case study, consider doing it yourself and sending it to their team for revisions and publication.
This is a free way to get a strong backlink to your website, and engagement through other digital channels.
2. Turn a Survey into a Quiz
Have questions for your audience? It’s tempting to send out a survey to see how their preferences and thoughts have changed, but can yield less accurate and comprehensive data than asking the same questions in a quiz.
Quizzes more closely mirror real-world decision-making and behavior, because users are more bought into the results, and are thus more likely to complete and share a quiz than they are a survey.
It can be fun to circulate via email and social media too, unlike a survey which feels like research and isn’t always answered accurately.
3. Guest blog or blog swap
Is there an influencer offering especially valuable advice or resources during this time? Do you have a unique perspective that could benefit their audience, or context or offer that they may want to share? Ask to guest blog on a site you admire or your audience reads, and consider a blog swap to get their content on your channels, too.
Sharing your audiences and insight can add value to both parties, without costing more than a few hours to produce.
4. Create unique content and offers for value-added email marketing
Yes, every list you’ve ever subscribed to emailed you in March. But what about now? How much sparser have the valuable tools and tips become? Consider being entertaining or informative with something creative that your audience can’t find elsewhere.
5. Ask for and Incentivize User Generated Content
Your customers may be using your products in new or creative ways, and can be your most effective salespeople. Word of mouth is a consistently effective and difficult to track channel, so engage them in the process.
Ask users to share photos, screenshots, or videos about it – and incentivize the community to weigh in. You can repurpose some of the most valuable content into other formats, like blogs, white papers, or infographics, which can become core to your new campaigns and feel more relevant.
6. Host or Join a Podcast or Virtual summit
Your customers and prospects may be the ideal guests, or you may have an opportunity to collaborate with a partner you’ve been looking to strengthen a relationship with.
Take advantage of your communal resources to provide value about the topics your audience cares about. If they’re parents, making it through the school year and planning for summer may be top of mind – sharing tips and resources on best practices that aren’t overly promotional can provide value, encourage trust, and promote sharing engaging content.
7. Take advantage of lower media costs
It’s possible that this isn’t the right time to try to engage prospects, but doubling down on relationships and engagement with current customers is valuable. Or, prior customers may be interested in new offers as their workflows change.
Address what’s going on candidly, and empathize with the inequitable impact the pandemic is having on the global community, but consider leveraging lower ad costs to try unique offers or controlled, tactical experiments.
• • •
Marc Benioff famously regrets making the cuts he did during 2009, as many of the world’s most successful companies grew and prospered directly from a crisis.
It’s important to stay sensitive and relevant in your content and offers, with mindful timing and audience segmentation, but that doesn’t mean that a “wait it out” approach is a path to survival.