This is being reprinted with permission from my friend David Saunders, the Chief Idea Officer at Madison + Main. I look forward to his industry insight and musings every Friday afternoon!

The Weekly Report for April 3, 2020

Hey folks,
It’s a scary time for all of us. It’s especially frightening if you own a small business right now and your world has suddenly turned upside down. Yes, Congress passed, and the President signed, a $2.2 trillion dollar deal this week and a third of that money will be distributed directly or indirectly to small businesses. There is good news on the horizon, but what can your company do right now to retain customers and more importantly, get new ones through the door? (Well, maybe not through the door — because they’re likely locked in at home.) At Madison+Main, we have 47 clients and 45 of them would be classified as SMB’s (Small/Medium-Sized Businesses), so we know a thing or two about how to help emerging companies and challenger brands navigate their way through a crisis.
Here is some of the best advice that we’ve been giving our clients recently. I’d like to share some of these tips with you, loyal readers of the Weekly Report, to help your company get through the next few weeks (or months) during this difficult period.
1. Keep your foot on the pedal.
The biggest mistake small businesses make during economic downturns is to pump the brakes on their marketing. This is akin to selling all of your stock at a 100% loss when the stock market goes down temporarily. Buying low and selling high is a fundamental precept in business. Dollars you invest in marketing today produce a return on investment later. Remember, if you take your foot off the pedal you’ll slow down. If you hit the brakes, you’ll come to a screeching halt. You are the driver. Your company is the car. So keep driving, keep the car running, and keep spending money on gas — a.k.a. marketing.
2. Reallocate your marketing dollars.
COVID-19 has affected consumer behavior in drastic ways. For example, normally you might buy ads on drive-time radio in the morning and TV spots in primetime. But with the vast majority of Americans isolating, entertainment consumption has changed. Something as simple as swapping your TV ad placements to daytime could mean more eyeballs for fewer dollars. Maybe you postpone next month’s billboard because no one is on the streets and move it to direct mail because people are at home. See where I’m going with this?
3. Rethink event marketing.
Since no one can currently gather in a group of 10 or more, almost every event you can think of has been canceled until June 1st. Using Madison+Main’s 3/3/3/3 Marketing Strategy for Events now would be a good time to start planning and marketing that July, August, or September event. Most people have been isolated for three weeks or more and when quarantine orders are lifted, you can be sure that Cabin Fever will turn into Spring Fever. For a primer on the 3/3/3/3 Strategy, click here.
4. Change your processes.
If your business has been affected by social distancing rules…10 customers or less in a store, etc., you’re going to need to change processes to accommodate your customers. If you’re a health care provider, you might want to consider video conferencing instead of in-person office visits. The same tactic can be used for other professional services; legal, accounting, financial advising, etc. If you normally offer services in person, figure out a way to deliver those services online, perhaps through video chat. If you operate a retail store, you should be offering — and marketing — your new “delivery service.” If you’re a restaurant or personal service provider, you should be pushing gift cards, future discounts, and marketing merchandise through your website.
5. Post, post, post.
Take the time to create and share social media content on every single branded social media channel that your company has. Social media usage has exploded during the period of social isolation and your customers are consuming almost three times the amount of social media content, according to some estimates. If you are only posting two or three times a week on Facebook, you should now be posting two or three times per day.
6. Seek professional help.
I don’t want this to sound self-serving, but the best advice I can give a small business owner is to “seek professional help.” You need to stay focused on running your business and now might be the perfect time to outsource your marketing. This is especially true if you don’t have the manpower. Of course, Madison+Main can help, but you can also find resources through AIGA Richmond or the local chapter of the AMA (American Marketing Association). There is one promise that I will make, if you call me, we will do my best to help. And if we can’t help you, we will help find you someone who can.
“The value of an idea lies in the using of it.” – Thomas Edison
Madison+Main is a brand communications agency that helps small and midsize companies. #BoldBrandsWin
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