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20 Ways to Continue Marketing with No Budget
7th May 2020
By Christopher Lamotte, Real Marketing www.real-m.com 01620 825751
“You've been forced to close your shop, retail warehouse or restaurant, or stop delivering your services, and had to furlough or layoff many of your employees. It's a very challenging and unsettling time, and we're all trying to adjust to the Coronavirus Crisis as quickly as we can,” says Christopher Lamotte from Real Marketing.
You may have already reviewed all your marketing activity and switched off unnecessary marketing spend to reduce the cash drain. This could involve stopping planned advertising in print publications, halting Google Ads campaigns, cancelling events and shows, putting marketing projects on hold, and turning off other communications channels across the board.
But, some businesses may react too quickly. They stop doing most of their marketing and that can be a serious mistake; analysis from previous crises and severe downturns shows that companies who continue to market during a serious recession are more likely to survive, build their brands and grow their profits much faster when the economy recovers.
When life has settled down a bit and you have the space to think clearly, there’s a surprising amount that you can continue to do to market your business without spending much marketing budget at all. You do need more time, of course, and you need to have a plan for your marketing. It will involve some pivoting, perhaps some significant changes to your current marketing strategy andyou’re your communication channels.
Yes, we all have to shift to the new normal to survive and lay the foundations for a swift recovery.
“Companies that thrived after past recessions… were those that kept communicating with consumers through the downturn, took a more active posture, focused on through-cycle interventions, and acted with urgency. Marketing leaders should consider how to re-architect their current marketing models, approaches, and tools to get ready for the turnaround,” says McKinsey.
And remember, the aim of marketing is to buy life-time customers that provide repeat business, recurring revenues. A lot of your profits come from repeat business.
You can use some of the headings below to help you create a simple No Budget Marketing Plan.
1. Product Strategy
Your products are one of the key 'Ps'* in the marketing mix that influence demand from your customers. Assess which of your products and services are worth promoting in the short term: some may have a long lead time which means that the product or service can be delivered post-lockdown; and some may be more in demand. You may even be able to create and launch new products. Be flexible and open-minded. *[Price and Promotion are 2 more of the marketing Ps.]
Providing excellent customer service is more important than ever. Do the 'critical non-essentials', the little touches that will be remembered. Create special offers for your advocates and raving fans so that they can help you through these challenging times.
“Our latest McKinsey survey shows that about 33 percent of Chinese consumers have switched brands based on convenience and promotions—and 20 percent of that group intend to stick with the new brands they’ve tried. Marketers should begin revisiting what their brand means to customers.” (McKinsey, April 2020)
2. Selling Messages, USP & Brands
Review your unique selling proposition (USP) and selling messages and adjust them for the current stressed environment. Your messages probably have to evolve. Be empathetic, sympathetic, supportive, kind, compassionate, positive and optimistic.
Taking the right steps will have a positive impact on your brand: according to recent studies in Asia, brands that ‘deliver purpose in an ethical way’ during the crisis will grow twice as much as average brands.
What problems are you fixing for your customers? What are the benefits that they buy from you (not just the features)? Who are your ideal customers? What are their profiles (personas) and where are they concentrated?
As well as repeat customers with high lifetime values, you need customers that refer you. Customers who refer you are better at selling your products than you are! So, how can you encourage referrals?
“I recommend... finding ways to adapt your message to help those in crisis. Avoid any messaging that would make it appear that you’re exploiting the crisis rather than providing value. ...At some point, people will become tired of talking about the crisis, and you’ll be able to go back to business as usual.” (AJ Wilcox, host of The LinkedIn Ads Show)
Review your website thoroughly. It should run as the hub of your digital marketing strategy. Most websites can be improved. Was your website working well before the crisis? You need to dive in and fix it. Start with your home page, the most valuable real estate on your website. Does it reflect your USP and how you need to adjust it for the crisis?
Does your website use 'You' and focus on benefits? Are there sections missing or ones that need to be updated? Are your services packaged up well? Is your website integrated effectively with your social media platforms? Are the calls to action clear? Should you add more videos? See Websites & Digital Marketing on Real Marketing’s website.
Do some split testing, A/B testing, to see what works best. You’ll uncover the approaches with the highest return and doing this will cost you nothing except the time involved.
4. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
Review your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) because your prospects have to be able to find your website. It's your online shop front and it has to be in a prime location on the virtual high street. Start with your onsite SEO, then review your local SEO and off-site SEO. Is content marketing generating valuable backlinks (more below)? Do you know the top 30 keywords that you want your website to be found for?
Unfortunately, this is a challenging area so you may need to ask a professional, trusted SEO consultant to do an SEO audit and create a plan. You can ask me for a free video chat.
Review how you sell your products or services. Can you sell more of your products or services online? Is now the time to get into eCommerce?
Is ecommerce a real opportunity for your business to create a valuable new revenue stream, a good long term, strategic investment? The next few weeks could be the right time to consider selling online.
The good news is that getting eCommerce set up and running is probably easier and less expensive than you think - some ecommerce solutions are surprisingly good value. See my section on how to 'Generate Online Sales Fast with a Best Value eCommerce Solution'.
6. Digital Disruption
Most of us need to make our businesses more virtual. Review your business processes to see which elements can be distributed digitally or remotely. Are there innovative competitors who are already disrupting your market by taking processes online? See what they’re up to and consider adapting their ideas. Is now the time to inject some digital disruption into your own business model to automate and take more of your business processes online?
7. Pricing Strategy
Pricing is a one of the key 'Ps' in the marketing mix and it directly influences demand for your products. Clearly you need to protect your margins and don't want to undermine your position in the market, but do you need to review your pricing? Can you use time-limited offers to create 'urgency' and close sales? Consider generous pricing models, deferred payment plans, or pay-what-you-can-afford options.
Many SMEs under charge which reduces their margins. If you’re approach is cost-plus pricing, can you move away from it to value-based pricing?
8. Selling & Using the Phone
Generating sales is essential for business survival so don't stop selling. You need to adjust your tone but keep selling, gently. Use a soft, questioning, permission-based, solutions and relationship-based approach to selling. Focus on your customers. Listen carefully and make notes. Know your selling messages by heart. Can you increase the average value of each sale? Can you introduce some urgency to close sales? Follow up on the phone. Don't rely on email too much. Replace face-to-face sales meetings with video calls using Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype, Facetime… Follow up. Follow up.
Phone up your customers to keep in touch, build your relationships and provide support. How many of your suppliers have spoken to you recently?
You could focus on ‘up-selling’ or ‘cross-selling’ to existing clients. Up-selling tends to generate high margins so is worth considering.
Get your mindset right before you do your selling. Perhaps go for a run or walk before you start. Put more effort into reviewing your prospects. Do two or three blocks of an hour of sales prospecting per day. Speak to your colleagues to share your frustrations and keep you positive.
Referrals are the best free marketing technique. Create a structured process, a referral system and proactively ask your customers for who they can refer to you.
10. Conversion Rates
Measure your conversion rates for your leads and do what you can to improve them, as far as possible. If your sales process is captured well in a flow diagram, you can measure each step. Just measuring your conversion rates tends to improve them. Be prepared to follow up every enquiry more thoroughly than ever, by email, phone or video call.
“Now is not the time to focus on vanity metrics (views, likes, reactions, comments, shares, impressions, etc.). They’re very alluring but you need sales! Sales are the lifeblood of your business. The brands that don’t maintain sales in these tough times will likely struggle to survive.” (Daniel Harmon, Harmon Brothers)
More Free Communication Channels
We’re lucky enough to have access to several more free (or very low cost) communication channels. Social media channels and email marketing are great examples. Clearly, managing them takes time and effort but perhaps you have more time now to work on your marketing.
If your business is based in East Lothian, you may well qualify for up to 3 days of Free Expert Help Marketing Consultancy Support delivered by Real Marketing. Learn more...
“I wish you all the best and hope your business copes during the lockdown and thrives when we get through this crisis.” Christopher concludes: “Please feel free to contact me for a video chat over a (virtual) coffee if you want to get some ideas for your marketing. Good luck!”
To get access to the full article go to the Real Marketing website…