The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a curveball at many small businesses, and among the many complexities, one is figuring out how to adapt your marketing strategies and messaging to today’s environment.
We asked business owners how they’ve changed their marketing in recent months, given the obstacles—and opportunities—presented. Here’s how they responded:
Confront the “new normal” head-on
I have adapted my business marketing in the past few months to be in tune with homeowners needing to sell their homes quickly—yet safely—during this new reality that is COVID-19. I started promoting to sellers a “no physical showings” option that allows sellers to show their home fully via a video solution we offer. We promoted this option using direct mail and an email campaign, as well as on our Facebook page. We have also begun airing local TV commercials. This is a brand-new marketing channel for us, and we will be prioritizing this for several weeks to test out.
—Luly Lopez, program director, 72 Sold Asheville, Asheville, North Carolina
Improve online search visibility
We began more heavily focusing on our online presence as soon as the pandemic reached the U.S. in late February. We could see that in-person networking and meetings would be halted for a while, and people would be at home searching the web for answers. We hired a design firm to help with our local SEO and to update our content to make it easier to find us on Google.
—Katharine Earhart, partner, Fairlight Advisors, San Francisco
Ramp up online advertising
Being an online retailer specializing in ultra-portable and inflatable boats, my marketing from day one has always involved a mix of on- and offline activities. Unfortunately, the recent pandemic led to many boat and trade show cancellations, which shut off a marketing channel that I found successful in previous years. I decided in response to this situation that I needed to direct money towards ramping up my Google advertising. Digital advertising—coupled with improving our website’s SEO—led to a 170% increase in Q2 sales in 2020 compared to 2019.
—Alex Caslow, founder and owner, Red Beard Sailing, Fallston, Maryland
Increase frequency of email and social marketing
As an integrated marketing firm, we typically rely heavily on referrals. But once the COVID-19 pandemic began, we quickly pivoted to increase our outbound marketing among our current network in order to remain top-of-mind when businesses start spending again. Our efforts have centered more around proving our value. We have also increased our email marketing frequency from monthly to weekly, improved our social media presence (both posting and engagement) and tripled our content marketing efforts to include more blog posts, podcast episodes and free webinars.
—Kimberly Ring, founder, Ring Communications, Boston
Host a virtual summit
Since the pandemic started, I have explored new and innovative ways to continue to market my company online. For example, I recently held a virtual summit where I had over 400 people register to virtually attend to listen to our speakers coach them on ways to elevate their businesses and brands through speaking.
—Laura Louis, founder, Couch to Podium, Atlanta
Create timely content
We sell a line of premium hair care products. Once COVID hit, we began to focus on building out our content. We’ve been creating one blog post a week, with messaging around selfcare, quarantine hair and do-it-yourself (DIY) solutions. We have created videos interviewing stylists about how they are feeling. We’ve only recently returned to the levels of digital acquisition that we were at pre-COVID.
—Lynn Power, co-founder and CEO, MASAMI, New York City
How has your marketing shifted in recent months? Share your insights in the comments section below.
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