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Insights | By Dan Holbourn March 19, 2020

Why Marketing is Critical in Times of Crisis

Helping your business survive the Coronavirus (COVID-19)

In times of financial uncertainty (such as the current COVID-19 crisis), the first thing most businesses do is cut costs to free up some cash. This may be an essential move to keep your business viable, but don’t make the mistake most businesses make when under financial pressure. 

As business owners, we don’t always have control over sales, but we do have control over costs and unfortunately, the first expense to go is the marketing budget. This is a critical error. As a rule of thumb, 5-8% of your total annual revenue should be spent on marketing when times are good, and 10-15% when times are bad.

“When times are good you should advertise. When times are bad you must advertise.”

Smart business owners boost their marketing budget in times of crisis because they understand these key facts:

  • Most businesses don’t advertise in a time of crisis
  • There is far less competition in the marketplace
  • Less competition means cheaper advertising costs and more chance for brand and product exposure
  • Plus they understand that without marketing, their business has almost no chance of riding a financial crisis.

But, I don’t even have a marketing budget!

Let’s face it, most businesses don’t even have a marketing budget. Typically these businesses either don’t need marketing, can’t afford marketing or have dabbled in Facebook Ads and became disgruntled because they concluded: “ Facebook marketing doesn’t work”.

Hot tip: Facebook marketing does work if done right. 

For the latter two, it’s time to get creative and come up with a marketing plan, because you are going to need it. Don’t worry, we are here to help you.

DIY Marketing Plan (in times of crisis)

Step 1. SWOT Analysis – If you don’t already have a marketing plan and don’t know where to start, it’s best you start by creating a SWOT analysis. This will give you a clearer picture of where you stand amongst your competitors and help you shape the right marketing message for the current climate.

Step 2. Get Creative – In times like this, you need to get creative. Think of clever ways to get your brand in front of people. Currently, there are fewer people out in public, but more people are online, so this is a golden op for you to try Facebook marketing (again). Take the learnings from the SWOT Analysis and draft up some basic ad copy. Here is a great article on how to write an effective Facebook ad. If you have never set up a Facebook ad before, follow these simple steps.

Google Ads is also a very powerful platform that can help you get through this tough time. Here is a quick video to get you started.

Step 3. Launch and Monitor – when you are happy with your ads, the best thing is to monitor them daily. Remember, it takes about 1-2 weeks for most advertising platforms to optimise your ads for best performance, so don’t panic if you don’t see immediate results.

When monitoring your ads, keep your eye on these 3 things:

  1. Impressions or Reach – this metric indicates how many people saw your ad
  2. Clicks (CTR) – self-explanatory, but probably the most important metric when monitoring the performance of your ad. If you have loads of impressions, but low clicks, this means your ad is not effective, and you may need to change your copy and/or imagery. See below for click-through rate (CTR) industry benchmarks.
    Facebook CTR BenchmarksGoogle CTR Benchmarks
  3. Cost (CPC) – you should see the cost of your ads drop as the campaign progresses. I would give the campaign at least 2 weeks before you start optimising your campaign. Here are some Cost Per Click (CPC) industry benchmarks to help you gauge the performance of your ads.

Facebook CPC Benchmarks Google CPC Benchmarks

But, I’m time poor

There is no excuse for not working ON your business, time poor or not. If business is slow, I’m guessing you have ample time to find ways to generate cash-flow. So, instead of panicking, get your staff, family, and friends together and brainstorm ways to see the silver lining. You will be surprised how quickly the mood of your organisation changes for the better. In 2009 we saw one of the largest financial crises’ in decades. A lot of businesses went under, but some got through, even thrived. Read this article and see how some of those small businesses survived the GFC.

In conclusion

So remember, if you are considering cutting your marketing budget to save your business, you may be throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

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