Running a digital marketing business is challenging during the best of economic times. There’s more competition than you can keep up with and new firms starting every day. You have to stay on top of the latest trends and technological changes and juggle multiple clients in varied industries. Add COVID-19 challenges into the mix, and you may feel a bit overwhelmed.
A recent survey indicated about 87% of small businesses in the United States are struggling as a direct result of coronavirus. While you can’t compare the trials of a brick-and-mortar restaurant with your digital marketing business, many of your clients may deal with the after-effects of state-mandated closures. When they struggle to keep the lights on, marketing may take a back burner to more immediate needs.
Fortunately, there are many things you can do to make sure your digital marketing business stays afloat during COVID-19. Here are seven tips to help you excel during these difficult times.
1. Refine Your Work-at-Home System
Perhaps you typically work out of an office with a team of designers and marketers. Suddenly, you all must work from home, and everything is in disarray. Keep things ticking for your clients by getting organized. First, document workflows and choose a platform, so everyone on your team can access information and make changes. There are plenty of different platforms for this, including Google Drive, Slack, Basecamp and Asana.
Make sure everyone on the team has the correct credentials to log in. Give your clients access to some parts of the project management tool, so they can check in on workflows and even add suggestions throughout the process. As a digital marketer, you should be better equipped than anyone to move to a remote worker model.
2. Support Your Family and Workers
While keeping your business thriving during these times is a top priority, remember that both your home and work families may feel stressed. Spend a portion of each workweek reaching out to those you care about and making sure they’re OK. There shouldn’t be a meeting agenda for your staff. Simply send a text message wellness check or make a phone call.
During the last recession, small businesses had greater job losses than big corporations. Avoid the issue by prioritizing the needs of your top employees and making sure they have the tools needed to survive the lockdown.
3. Seek Help From the PPP
The Paycheck Protection Program is a part of the COVID-19 stimulus and aims to provide relief to small-business owners ensuring their workers receive a paycheck. If you’ve had to shutter some of your work and lay people off, applying for the program lets you keep your valued employees on the till while cutting costs to help with cash flow issues.
You may find some of your clients want to pause marketing campaigns until they reopen. The program allows you to lay off nonessential people, but still provide an opportunity for them to retain their salaries.
4. Adapt Your Services
The landscape of the way we do business changed in a few short months. Since your clients are also business owners, consider how their operations will look in the future. Restaurants may reopen with a minimal number of people allowed inside and adaptations to the way they provide service. Nonessential companies may see a drop in sales as people put their money toward preparing for a resurgence of the virus.
If you’ve offered ad campaigns, look for other services you can add. Since people won’t likely hold events or attend conferences anytime soon, can you figure out a digital event to help them promote their business to large groups of people?
5. Seek New Clients
Many small businesses that haven’t considered their online presence may suddenly find they have to take curbside pickup orders, or customers want to pay for products on the web. Seek new clients in your area who may not have needed your services in the past. Since social distancing measures are still in place, you may need to reach out via telephone or online messaging.
6. Pamper Current Clients
The best-case scenario would be keeping the clients you have while adding new ones. Your digital marketing business could come out of the current pandemic unscathed if you manage to grow during this time. Start by really looking at how you might help current clients. Reach out and ask how customers are doing with the changes and brainstorm ideas for marketing.
Find specific solutions for each business. For example, if you have a client who owns a chain of theaters, talk to them about ways they can meet distancing requirements but still open on a limited basis. Even though consultation may not be in your wheelhouse as a digital marketer, helping your clients succeed benefits you. After all, they can’t hire you if they go out of business.
7. Optimize Your Marketing
If you find you’ve lost a few clients because of COVID-19 shutdowns, don’t despair. Spend the extra time perfecting your marketing efforts. How has digital marketing changed? What unique value do you bring? You may have a big advantage over your competition because you were already online.
Reach out to essential businesses and industries less impacted by COVID-19. Target a specific audience on social media. Adapt ad campaigns and ensure they are sensitive to people’s emotions.
8. Keep Prices Static
You may have less income than normal, and the idea of slightly raising prices could look attractive. However, your clients are struggling as well. They may have lost business just as you did. A price increase may be the wedge driving them away from your firm.
Also, people out of work will quickly turn to armchair roles, such as putting up a quick Wix site or Facebook page advertising their ability to promote a business on social media. While you know they aren’t as informed as you, your client may turn to them to save a few dollars. Reiterate that you’re a professional, and to help them, you won’t increase your charges.
Get Creative with Solutions
Organize your customer database. Who is late on payments, has reduced work or is paying as always? Some of your clients may need consultations with you. Ask them what their budget is and how you can work with them to reach new customers without putting a strain on their finances.
Offer some options for payments to get caught up. Perhaps you could create a plan that would allow them to pay what they owe so you can continue working with them. Handle things with a gentle hand and an understanding heart. They are likely doing the best they can during a sudden and unexpected downturn.
Be flexible, keep prices the same and let your clients know you’ll work with them if they’re in a bind. Eventually, the world will recover from the current physical and financial crisis. In the meantime, keep your customers rather than letting them bounce to someone else.