Being a small business owner means you constantly must change and adapt depending on what life throws at you, especially if you are wearing several hats to keep your business running. That has never been clearer than in 2020, with COVID-19 hitting small businesses hard, and many struggling to stay afloat until we all go back to “normal” again, if ever. With this upheaval in all industries, there are a few unexpected marketing changes small business owners are making to survive.

Rethinking how marketing budgets are spent

marketing budgetSavvy small business owners likely have a small business marketing plan that they were following when the pandemic hit. For many, that plan was simply not feasible anymore, especially when it came to the marketing budget established and how that money was spent on marketing efforts. Many have had to cut back significantly on marketing spend while trying to keep promoting their business. While the knee-jerk reaction to the unstable economy might be to stop spending money, marketing is not one of those areas. History has shown us that it’s important to keep marketing during an economic downturn but do so wisely and strategically. For many, that meant prioritizing what tactics would continue and what campaigns might need to be cut back or back-burner until funds were available again. The best way to determine this is to measure what the ROI is on each marketing tactic to see which activities should remain if not increase, and which should be reduced or eliminated. A small business marketing consultant can assist with this if you are unsure how to make those determinations.

Pivoting from in-person marketing efforts to online

virtual conferencesFor small businesses that depend on in-person events such as trade shows, conventions, and in-person presentations or demonstrations, this pandemic has been rough. Some 38% of respondents in a new survey from LinkedIn and Vision Critical stated that they have had to either pause or cancel events, while another 40% have moved their events to a virtual platform. Due to this, four in five have decreased their investment in events, and 67% have increased their investment in webinars. It is a strong illustration of how today’s technology has allowed many of these efforts to be retooled as online events. Many companies and organizations are holding virtual conferences, meeting clients via Zoom, and creating videos that replace their previous in-person demonstrations.

A renewed interesting in keeping the clients they have

customer retentionCustomer retention and upselling should always be priorities for small business owners. COVID-19 has illustrated just how important it is to keep the customers you have when it is a challenge to bring new business on board. Interesting fact: according to a report from The Manifest, only 6% of small companies are focused on retaining their customers. As the economy dulls potential clients’ interests in committing to a new product or service, small businesses are now refocusing efforts on retaining and upselling existing clients as one of their marketing changes to grow their revenue.

Shifting the content marketing message

compassionEveryone understands that these are strange times. As such, no one wants to come across as insensitive as they continue their marketing efforts. The question is often, “Do I talk about COVID-19 and appear like I’m using it to my advantage, or do I not and appear ignorant to what’s happening all around us?” A good question, and one that many business owners struggle with. As such, marketers are walking carefully through these times, continuing to provide content marketing that is useful, informative, and educational to potential and existing clients while not appearing to turn a deaf ear to the struggle everyone is going through. Oddly enough, these circumstances have forced business marketers into a situation where they need to come across as more human, more sincere, and more emotional in nature. As a result, their target audience is seeing the authentic voice of the company. People do business with people, not businesses, so allowing your brand’s voice to be more personal and compassionate in nature is not only acceptable but encouraged. At the end of the day, be true to your brand identity and brand voice to keep resonating with your target audience. This applies to all avenues of your marketing, from blogging to social media to email marketing. Reach out to a small business marketing professional if you need guidance on crafting your content marketing message.

There have been several unexpected marketing changes small business owners are making considering today’s business environment. The ability to make these changes to keep resonating with your target audience will help your business survive and even thrive during these difficult times.

Patty Hughes
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