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Coronavirus has the world in its grip. Understandably right now there is a fear amongst business owners and whilst it is true some companies will close (hopefully for most just temporarily) this crisis will pass, and things will eventually return to normal.

What you as a business owner does over the coming weeks will likely define your success over the next 12 months and beyond. Of course, business owners are looking at their finances, and there is an understandable desire to cut any and all expenses that they can. However, your marketing spend where at all possible should not be one of them. That approach can often result in a catastrophic outcome.

A cut in marketing activity is a short-term fix that is bound to have long term consequences and can end up costing companies much more in the long run.

When a company reduces its marketing, it leads to a reduction in the brand’s exposure. When a brand’s exposure is reduced, so is its revenue. This, in turn, can force a company to reduce its marketing spend even more. This is a negative spiral that all businesses must try to avoid.

Maintaining visibility in your market is essential for long term profitability, so any strategies that promote interaction with your target audience, strengthen the brand image and have high sales potential should not be discarded.

It is essential to stay in the game!

Companies need to continue to advertise and market their businesses. When all of this passes, and it will, the ones who have persevered with marketing their products and services will profit considerably.

In this challenging scenario, investing in digital marketing presents itself as one of the better and safer options available, and the one most likely to provide positive returns.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, there were around 4.45 billion active Internet users worldwide, and the level of internet usage during this crisis is reportedly increasing. The businesses that continue to promote themselves online will, therefore, reach a larger audience

Today, in this globalised and highly connected world, the best way for a brand to be visible and increase its visibility is through digital channels.

Re-allocate your marketing budget

Across the world events and trade shows have been cancelled. Business travel has all but ceased, and in person, face to face meetings and networking are in hiatus.

The more savvy companies will have been reviewing their marketing budgets and re-allocating their spends into other activities where they can yield the greatest impact. With the majority of Irish households and businesses now on almost lock-down, a lot more time is being spent on the internet searching for products and services they need right now and researching for things they will want to get in the future.

There has never been a more important time to feature high in Google’s search results and other online portals as now. By allocating spend to digital marketing in the form of Google Advertising, Social media and Search Engine Optimisation, you can do this.

The Benefits of Digital Marketing

Get the jump on your rivals and gain competitive advantage

During these challenging times, many companies opt to cut their marketing investments, including digital marketing. Entrepreneurs & businesses who go in the opposite direction of this trend, continuing, or even upping their spend will reap both long term benefits, establishing a competitive advantage over their bearish competitors.

Of course, Coronavirus is incomparable to anything else. However, if we look at other times of crises such as the recession of 2008, companies that maintained or increased their advertising increased sales and market share during the recession and beyond.

These difficult times will pass, and to invest today is an excellent opportunity for businesses to be able to reach a wider audience providing better results, greater prominence for their brand, and faster returns.

Long term wins – Focus on content marketing & Search Engine Optimisation

In times of crisis, we all tend to be more restrained with our spending, and more selective with the way we use our money.

How to get around this perception? Through content marketing, a digital marketing strategy that consists of providing relevant information, capable of building authority while bringing the brand closer to its customer.

Content marketing is part of a broader internet strategy of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).  Simply put it is the process of getting free traffic to your website from search engines like Google. There are many facets to SEO, but they are all about improving your visibility in search results to get more, relevant visitors to your website, which are more likely to become new customers.

SEO is not a short-term tactic, rather a long term strategy, one that will yield results in the coming months rather than days and weeks. So, during this period of Coronavirus uncertainty, allocating budget to SEO is a smart move, that in time, will give you a significant return on investment and help achieve ongoing competitive advantage over other companies in your vertical.

Trackable / Real-time results

Coronavirus is feeding business uncertainty. It is of paramount importance that at a time like this any spend undertaken on any business activity can be measured accurately. This is one of the key benefits of digital marketing. Free analytics tools like Google Analytics provide a wealth of information on how people interact with your website. For example, you can track website visitor numbers, where they come from, if they called you, submitted a contact form or made a purchase.

This can all be tracked back and analysed so you can see what is working and what is not in real-time. It allows you to make proactive decisions about how you shape your marketing spend going forward, so you continue to realise a greater ROI.

Compare this to traditional advertising such as Television, Radio or leaflet drops where their effectiveness is challenging to accurately measure and analyse.

Segment and personalise with Digital Marketing

That all digital interactions are measurable facilitates segmentation and ultimately personalisation of marketing messages that are not viable with old school methods of marketing.

You can tailor your marketing messages to reach a very specific audience.  Furthermore, you can reach this audience at the time they are looking to engage with you during the buying cycle.

Digital marketing is less expensive

If you have ever advertised on television, you will be aware of the large costs associated with this medium. A perceived benefit of this medium is that you can reach a huge audience with this form of advertising.  However, this is actually a huge disadvantage. Of everyone who sees your TV advert, only a small percentage of people will have any interest in what you are advertising and an even smaller percentage will be at the moment they see your ad ready to buy from you.

Contrast that with digital marketing.  It is far less expensive and cost-effective compared to TV advertising. When someone searches online for something they want, they likely want it at that point in time.  In other words, they are actively looking for something at that moment.

Imagine this scenario: Someone searches on Google for something you sell. They review the search results they find from their search, and you feature prominently in the search results.  Someone clicks on you in the search results and they come through to your website and a specific web page that is exactly what they were searching for in the first place.

Marrying a person’s search with the search result they see and the page they subsequently click on makes it very easy for them to buy from you. And couple this with the fact that this interaction is completely measurable, underlines the transparency of this medium and the benefits of using it.

In Conclusion

Some businesses will unfortunately fold, and many others will hibernate during the Coronavirus outbreak. But the smart businesses and the ones with means who are able to look up above the parapet are going to embrace the opportunity that this uncertainty presents. Yes, it’s time to reassess your marketing strategies and where your budget goes, but it’s not the time to press pause. Digital marketing is cost effective, transparent and pivotal to your long-term success. If at all possible, don’t ignore it.

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