Quickly becoming my trademark statement is, “If you want something out of marketing, then you need to be willing to invest in marketing.” With many employees working from home or a shift in workload for the unforeseeable future, this might be the perfect opportunity to make an investment of time into your marketing efforts.
If you are a small business owner “downtime” is rare and we are often left with little time to plan for the future. Over the next few days (or weeks), while the business landscape is scary and unknown for many of us, now might be the opportunity to think about the future of your marketing efforts. It might feel like there are more important tasks to focus on, but believe it or not a little long-term planning might just be the stepping stone for future success.
If you are a part of a larger organization with a sudden inconsistent workload or staff members working remotely, whether they are in the marketing department or not, forming subcommittees are a great opportunity to get company-wide input on the approach for future marketing direction. Further, it can bring to the surface great ideas from colleagues that might not otherwise participate in marketing activities.
Whether you tackle the following on your own or divide and conquer with your team, here are a few ideas on how to make an investment of time in marketing.
Marketing Check In: Did you get a chance to put a 2020 marketing calendar together? If so, now is a good time to do a check-in and talk about what’s been accomplished, what’s coming up next and make any necessary adjustments. If you didn’t put a 2020 marketing calendar together, now is a great time to sit back and do some planning for Q3 & Q4.
Here’s a suggestion to get started: To keep it simple, open up an excel spreadsheet and start listing out the things you know your organization will be working on or participating in 2020. Then, brainstorm ideas on how to fill the gaps and/or maximize the already planned activity.
Website Audit: When is the last time you had a moment to go through your website and look for content that is outdated or could use a few tweaks? It might feel daunting to tackle, but once you get organized it goes quicker than you might think.
Here is an idea on how to get organized: Divide your website into sections (i.e. Brand, Product, etc) and then depending on your team size, divide each section to a subgroup, or if you are a smaller shop focus on one section per day. You can create your own documentation for note taking and action items, but here is one option again using a simple spreadsheet.
Developing Social Media Content: Struggling with what content to push out onto your social media channels?
Here are few ideas to get started:
1. Interview your colleagues and flip their answers into engaging content. Questions could be:
If they had to explain what your company does to a 2nd grader, how would that conversation go?
What caught your attention about the company you work for? What was interesting to you?
How does your job role or function impact the customer experience?
Complete this sentence, “If I were the boss for the day, I would _______________.”
During this coronavirus pandemic we are all having to practice social distancing from many of the people, places and things we enjoy on an everyday basis. What is one activity, person or place you are really going to miss during this time?
2. Take advantage of FAQs: Are customers calling with the same question? If one person has the question, likely someone else out there has the same question. Use your social media channels to educate your customers.
3. Has the customer experience changed for your business because of COVID-19? Do you no longer accept cash? Is the wait time for delivery of your product pushed out from 7 days to 14? What should a customer expect when they approach your place of business? Even the smallest changes are worth communicating.
Marketing Content Library: You know that brochure you created last year? Where is the file to it? You know that idea you had for a billboard last fall? Where is that?
If you don’t have a system in place that helps organize and keep track of the marketing material you have (even in its infancy phase), now is a GREAT time to take inventory and get organized. Why? Because with a few small tweaks, that print ad from last spring could be repurposed. Those pictures and video clips you have from all the volunteer work your team participated in last year, could make a great two-minute company culture video to post. There are no rules that state outputs of marketing have to come from fresh, new creative. Recycle, repurpose, reuse!
Here are a few ideas on how to get started:
Step 1: Think back on 2019 (or beyond) and write a list of anything and everything that took place (don’t forget new hires, company outings, notes from brainstorming meetings, etc).
Step 2: Select a centralized “Parking Spot” both in the office and electronically where all material will be stored.
Step 3: Scour electronic files, cabinets, notebooks, storage rooms, desk drawers, even reach out to clients and vendor partners for files. Collect everything you can and store it to the designated parking spot.
Step 4: Discuss how you want to organize everything in the parking spot and then start moving pieces/files to their final destination.
Step 5: Brainstorm!What can you do with all these parts and pieces? Options might be: Update your website, social media content, update your entryway with new photos of completed projects, or even update an old print ad to use in an upcoming publication.
Step 6: Provide recommendations to your manager/boss/owner and proceed as appropriate.
Professional Development: Is there an area you would like to grow the business? Or a particular area of marketing you’d like to dabble in (i.e. digital marketing, Instagram, etc.)?
You can think of this as a book club-like exercise, but basically the idea is to seek out an educational resource (book, webinar, specialist, etc) and take the time to learn. If you are a sole proprietor, set up a timeline of when you would like to complete this exercise and then implement (I know, easier said than done but do your best to stay focused). If you are in a larger organization, set up a lunch and learn for every other Friday. Participating employees can call in and talk through discussion questions. Again, it would be ideal to create a timeline of when you would like to learn and then implement.
I know some of these titles are a little older, but a few suggested reading items to look into:
Al Ries and Laura Ries, The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding
W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne, Blue Ocean Strategy
Malcolm Gladwell, The Tipping Point
So what’s the silver lining of COVID-19 for businesses -- large or small -- with regards to their marketing efforts? Time. Time to give marketing the attention that it probably needs and most certainly deserves.
Need some additional help getting started? Let me know. I’m happy to offer a half hour on the phone to help you and your team get started with any of the items listed above.
This Marketing Minute is brought to you by Sarah Hurley, owner at Weber Marketing, LLC.