We’re officially in the final quarter of what has been a remarkable (and not in a good way) year. Although individuals and businesses are becoming less and less restricted, the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to play out and much remains unknown. After a lot talk about “the new normal,” we’re still not sure what that’s going to look like and what it may mean for our businesses.
Instead of catastrophizing and worrying over all the possible outcomes, or of adopting a “wait and see” approach, it’s time for business owners to start laying odds on what you think your business landscape is likely to look like headed into 2021. That is, don’t keep waiting to see what happens. There’s no way to know what the future holds, so make some decisions based upon what you do know. And then make a plan. Here are some things to consider as you take in the lay of the land and start your planning.
Don’t Be Afraid to Go on Offense
Back in March, when we thought a shutdown was going to be very short-term, everyone adopted a defensive stance – a “survival mode” to protect their businesses. As we were defending ourselves from the virus, businesses were also doing things like cutting back on expenses, eliminating everything they could to survive the loss of revenue while their doors were closed. But defense is not an effective long-term strategy for rebounding from the crisis and having a successful business going forward.
At the same time, adopting a strategy that’s heavy on “offense” during a downturn also minimizes your chances for bouncing back strong. Investing too heavily during a time like this – when you may be able to take advantage of low prices – decreases your odds of surviving a downturn, much less thriving as a business once the crisis ends. So, what do you do?
What Works? Mixing It Up
According to some scholars at Harvard, businesses that mixed “offensive” and “defensive” business approaches were some of the most successful after a recession. They studied strategies used by companies over three past recessions and found that those that heavily favored either a defensive or offensive strategy were more likely to come out behind their competition or even fail during or after the crisis. But companies that made some strategic cutbacks while also investing in their companies in some way (e.g., training and development; buying real estate for new locations) were the ones that not only survived the recession but came out of it as industry leaders.
Although your instincts might still be telling you to stay on defense, now is a great time to make some investments in your team and your business, including your marketing and advertising. Intentionally investing in your business now means setting yourself up to respond more quickly than competitors when demand again rises after the recession.
Think Agility in Advertising
Typically, businesses create an annual marketing and advertising plan with quarterly goals. For many, those plans went out the window during 2020 due to market conditions. For 2021 planning, you may still want to create an annual plan, but since circumstances remain unpredictable, place more emphasis on quarterly planning. Plan ahead to review and tweak marketing and advertising tactics each quarter to ensure your actions fit the situation.
As our communities are gradually reopening, you can use Q4 to experiment with quarterly planning and to begin to evaluate what media and types of ads will work best for your business right now.
Emphasize Reactivating Existing Clients
What would your strategy include if you were marketing directly to your best customer? That is, who’s already done business with you and what would appeal to them right now? We’re sure you already know that customer acquisition costs five times as much as customer retention, so now is a great time to focus on reactivating current clients. Focusing on bringing your loyal fans back in the door helps you better develop your new advertising for Q4 and the upcoming year. Creating new campaigns is exciting but laser-focusing on your client base will make your campaign amazing.
Review Your Strategies from Prior Years
Look back at what you’ve done for marketing and advertising in the past and ask yourself some questions:
- What worked well in the past?
- Which ads worked best in the past?
- Which media and formats were most effective?
- Is it likely to continue to be a winning tactic for the current environment?
- Or is it likely to fall flat under the current circumstances?
- If you successfully used direct mail (for B2B), might it be wasting money now because people aren’t going into the office?
- If you sponsor events, do you expect them to be an option in 2021?
- What didn’t work well that might be effective under our new living and business circumstances?
- How could we redirect ad spend from things like trade shows and local events given that they may not happen in 2021? What new option could we experiment with during Q4?
- What are our competitors doing and how could we do it differently/better?
Certainly consider past successes, but don’t be afraid to try something new. You never know how a new approach will work until you try it!
Select Your Advertising Channels
Right now, most companies are focused on digital advertising. This is something we can’t argue with, as more people are online for longer periods of time since many other activities are off the table at the moment. Therefore, do consider how Facebook or Google ads can help your business – just don’t limit yourself to digital.
For one, everyone has digital ads right now, as we just mentioned. They’re coming at us constantly, and that can create mental fatigue. And although people are spending significantly more time online, many people have effectively learned to tune out ads that appear in headings or margins.
Not only are we bombarded with digital ads, but they are also disruptive. Unless we’re online with the express purpose of shopping, advertisements disrupt the work or leisure activity we’re engaged in. (Who hasn’t been annoyed by an ad popping up on the screen while in the middle of something?) Outdoor advertising, on the other hand, doesn’t interrupt or distract you from what you’re doing! Billboards are much less invasive and, therefore, more likely to be taken in by viewers when they’re out on the road. Plus, their sheer size makes a “big” impact that other forms of advertising simply can’t compete with.
Of course, we weren’t going to wrap this up without imploring you to consider billboard advertising with Penneco Outdoor! Right now, we have incentives for local businesses to allow you to maximize your advertising budget and make a big impact with your outdoor advertising. Don’t forget that outdoor advertising boasts an average ROI of 497%! Billboards make a big impact on your business – even in these economic times. So, let’s get your message out there to improve your cash flow!
Plus, we have digital billboard options, which have a host of advantages. First, they’re vibrant, allowing you to incorporate bolder, brighter colors. Next, they don’t have to be static. Digital billboards allow for motion to be included in your ad. Finally, they’re the perfect solution right now because they’ll allow you to experiment with your ads until your find the perfect pitch. Digital billboards can be updated fast and frequently because they eliminate the printing process and expense.
We’re here to support our community and the local businesses that keep it going. Give us a call today to learn more about how you can get one or more months of free billboard advertising with our packages for local businesses. We’re committed to finding a way to make billboard advertising work for you, your business, and your budget.