The world we know is changing on a daily basis. This is the reality of what life is like as the tidal wave of Covid-19, the novel coronavirus, washes over our country, changing the landscape and leaving us breathless in its wake. With so many small businesses now in unplanned financial trouble, and so many others out of work in general, it’s time for all of us, to work – and think – like digital marketers.
As a digital marketer myself, I have had the privilege of working with numerous brands in finance, insurance, travel and tourism, retail, food and beverage, athletic footwear and apparel, and snow sports. In doing so, I’ve gained valuable insight into branding and marketing at for-profit and non-profit organizations of every size and scope. Digital marketing works because so much of it is based on real data and reaching the right audience with the right message at the right time. Now is a time for all of us to take advantage of this type of thinking in our new realities, especially if you are a small business owner.
1. Develop a Strategy & Define Your Why
A strategy helps plan everything and clearly sets a goal, or desired outcome. Whatever you are dealing with, and we’re all dealing with a lot right now, it helps to have both a goal and a “why” in mind. What are you trying to achieve? What are the obstacles in your way, and how might you achieve your goal? Why does your business exist and how can you differentiate yourself? Answer these questions (in today’s reality) to help distill what the most important actions might be for you and your business right now.
2. Know Your Audience & Know Your Competition
As digital marketers, our best efforts are generally the ones targeted to a specific audience, rather than the ones blasted out to everyone. One message might be perfect for one group while another may have very little interest in that same message. Use this time to develop the best ways to reach your various audiences – whether work related, in your personal life, or a mix of both, for the most optimized outcome. At the same time, study your competition. What are they doing differently than you? What are they prioritizing? You will learn a lot by doing this research and staying tuned into change.
3. Understand the Tools & Resources at your Disposal
There are countless ways to direct your marketing efforts, but if you want more control and insight into your efforts, there are a lot of worthwhile marketing tools and resources out there which can transform your marketing overnight. Google advertising and paid social media boosts are just a couple of quick ways to build your brand. Put in some research hours to find the tools that will help you reach your goals and develop a robust peer network that you can learn from and share your experiences.
If you have no actual budget for digital marketing, focus on free solutions you can do yourself, like organic social media, search engine optimization, blogging, free email services, free websites, free design software, marketing interns looking for experience, etc. These services all exist, and there are many “how-to” articles out there to help you learn how to maximize them.
4. Test & Learn
Try new ideas. Don’t be afraid to get creative and do something different. If those ideas work, keep doing them; if not, stop and re-evaluate. We do this all the time in digital marketing. We look at the data to teach ourselves, and then we put our time and efforts into what the data tells us is working instead of with things that aren’t. Now is the time to let go of that mentality of “this is how I’ve always done it, so this is how I’ll do it.” Test out new ideas, make mistakes, learn and go forward.
5. Communicate with Purpose
This is key to digital marketing – we’re always looking at how well our emails, blog posts, and social media efforts are performing, and we are generally looking to engage our intended audience in a meaningful way. As the country begins working-from-home and practicing social distancing, how we communicate with each other is more paramount than ever. Consider your text messages and email subject lines, Teams messages, and social posts…what is the content that is being presented? How will it be received? How often are you communicating? Going through these exercises may help as you navigate the new normal of everything virtual.
This “new normal” for many of us is so very fluid. We have all-new meanings for the term “work-life balance” and that balance will continue to be tested like never before in the weeks and months to come. Let’s take this opportunity to work – and think – like digital marketers. Not because we have more answers than anyone else, but because the agile skills we have developed to thrive in our digital and virtual work have put us in a unique position for the moment at hand. Carpe Virtual Diem.
This advice is meant for the general public. Financial services and others in regulated industries need to abide by the regulations of their industry.