Nashville Business Journal Leadership Trust
by Kedran Whitten, Co-Founder at Brand825
Kedran Whitten is cofounder of Brand825, a full-service marketing and creative agency that is passionate about building successful brands.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been nothing short of destructive to the workforce in this country, particularly for small businesses. According to McKinsey, half of jobs at companies with fewer than 100 employees are vulnerable, compared to 40% of jobs at larger employers.

When a business is struggling to make ends meet, tough decisions are made that often lead to furloughs, layoffs and budget cuts. In many cases, business owners try to save money by slashing the marketing budget first. It’s an understandable move to make, but it’s the wrong move.

As Henry Ford reportedly said, “A man who stops advertising to save money is like a man who stops a clock to save time.” Cutting your marketing budget may save a little money now, but it will cost you a lot more when you need to rebuild marketing momentum during an economic recovery. Not only that, but studies have shown that decreasing your marketing dollars actually hurts sales during and after a recession.

Instead of reducing your marketing budget in tough times, here are ways you can adjust your marketing budget while maintaining — and potentially increasing — ROI.

Pivot from live events to virtual experiences

There’s nothing like hosting a conference or live event to build brand awareness, generate leads and close deals. In fact, events are one of the most powerful marketing channels in your company’s arsenal. According to Marketing Charts, 68% of B2B companies agree that live events help generate the most leads.

However, even though it may not be safe to host a large live event at the moment, that doesn’t mean your business has to lose out on the benefits events provide your organization and your attendees.

Many organizations are electing to host virtual events this year (and beyond). Research shows 55% of virtual event organizers plan to invest more in virtual events in 2021. That’s because companies like Adobe have seen incredible results from transforming flagship live events into digital experiences.

If you were planning to host a live event this year, it is worth talking to an event management agency to learn how you can turn it into a virtual experience and capitalize on the results.

Digital content is king

If you find that your more traditional advertising and content marketing campaigns are not producing expected results, keep in mind that the pandemic has completely changed our media consumption habits. Because COVID-19 persists in many parts of the country, people are still working from home. In addition, the demand for at-home entertainment options continues to rise.

Basically, we are in front of our screens all day, every day. A survey from Alcon shows nearly 80% of Americans are spending more time on screens because of COVID-19. Consumers are shopping more online, spending extra time on social media and streaming large amounts of videos and podcasts. Despite this influx, at the onset of the pandemic, 69% of brands said they would decrease their ad spends.

With less competition, this is the perfect time for your business to ramp up online advertising, especially as pay-per-click advertising is recovering nicely since the pandemic started.

Don’t be antisocial

Social media advertising is an important component of a marketing budget. But even if you are unable to scale up social media advertising, it’s still important to dedicate resources to social media so you can continue to further brand awareness and cultivate real engagement the old-fashioned way: organically.

As stated above, with more people spending more time on social media, there are plenty of opportunities to engage with a captive audience. And given the current state of the world, your brand has a chance to rise to the occasion and connect with consumers on a more personal level.

Use your social media presence as a way to reassure your audience. Post about what your company is doing to help the community and contribute positively to society. Share stories from customers who are going above and beyond to serve others. If you add to the conversation without hijacking it, your audience will remember that and reward you with brand loyalty.

Link to article on NASHVILLE BUSINESS JOURNAL.

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