Overcoming Obstacles in a Time of Recession – Some thoughts on Marketing.

Although its only natural to think of the right-now, marketing through uncertain times should be focused on the long-term values of your brand. We have all heard it so many times by now: these are very unsettling and unprecedented times we live in. The pandemic does not only take a toll on our lives but it creates fear and uncertainty. We are bombarded constantly with bad news of economic crisis, rising unemployment, collapsing businesses and according to the Global Report on Food Crisis – the increase of world hunger. As many predicted at the beginning of the outbreak, most companies decided to cut their expenses where possible. Many strategies shift from long-term goals to short term gains.

A global McKinsey Survey has shown that consumers tightened their belts as they braced themselves for the coronavirus pandemic, hitting both their income and savings. Most people in Germany, Italy, Russia, Spain and the UK scaled back on purchases of electronics and clothing while bulking up on essentials like groceries.  It is widely expected that these markets will recover, yet it is discussed what the overall economic effect that COVID-19 will have.

Facing the Challenge Ahead in a Positive Way

All of this created an atmosphere of stagnation and anxiety. Few adapt to a new situation quickly, however, most of us feel a sense of suspension in uncertainty. We are waiting to see everything coming back to normal, yet researchers warn us that what we see might become to some level a new norm and the quickest we adopt the better.

What is interesting, however, is that the world has also seen a surge in online consumption. In VIMAR Digital Marketing, we noticed a considerable boom in contracts for WooCommerce shops and online marketing services [1]. While a lot of customers transitioned into a period of stagnation, some adapted, seeking greater opportunities for working from home, implementing new strategies of sales and digital marketing.

3 Simple Tips – How to Progress while Staying at Home

If you are one of those who seem to be a bit overwhelmed and anxious about the new situation we have all encountered, here are a few practical ideas of how to use the time of lockdown positively, becoming more productive and find the opportunities in those challenging times.

1. Expanding your business to trade online

I know it sounds too simplistic, however, there was never a more encouraging time to start trading online.  There is a great incentive here in Ireland that allows small businesses to make this crucial step. This scheme is known as the Trading Online Voucher Scheme, provided by the Local Enterprise Offices throughout Ireland.  The LEO offers a range of supports to help Businesses responding to COVID-19.

In regard to the TOV Scheme, the main criteria are:

  • an existing business with up to 10 employees,
  • an idea of how to grow your sales online,
  • 10 per cent co-funding of the overall investment

and the Local Enterprise Office will reimburse the business up to €2500.

Amendments made to the existing scheme are outlined below:

Under the Government’s National Digital Strategy, the expanded Trading Online Voucher Scheme helps small businesses to trade more online, boost sales and reach new markets. There is up to €2,500 available through the Local Enterprise Offices with co-funding of 10% from the business*. 

Training and further business supports are also provided by Local Enterprise Offices, and businesses that have already received a Trading Online Voucher can now apply for a second voucher, where upgrades are required.

Funding can be used towards adding payment facilities or booking systems to your website or developing new apps for your customers. The voucher can also be used towards subscriptions to low cost online retail platform solutions, to help companies quickly establish a retailing presence online.

So instead of worrying and waiting for the situation to come back to normal, you could prepare yourself to this ‘new normal’ or even use this ‘opportunity’ to grow and expand your business.  If you need a quote or some expert advice, be sure to get in contact.

2. Invest in Yourself 

No other investment yields as great a return as the investment in education – you probably heard it so many times that it became a cliche. Everyone speaks about the value of knowledge. Spending more time developing your professional skills or simply making your CV more attractive to the forever changing market place.  Many of us became overwhelmed with the rapid growth of information, new career paths and the constant pressure of elevating our abilities. However, let’s try to look at this from a different perspective.

You are forced to stay at home. The first week or maybe two felt a bit like a holiday. More time to relax, more time with your family, finally you can watch all those movies and read all those books you never had time for. Indeed, two weeks could have been great but now you started to feel anxious and some may forget what day of the week it is. Interrupted daily routine, lack of goals and targets could have propelled a feeling of meaningless in life. What I found empowering and very helpful in a time of ‘interrupted daily routine’ was one word: Progress. 

There is something amazing in the simple concept of Improvement and Development. The steady and consistent process of growth. Trust me, it can help you get through hard times. Never in history has there been such easy access to quality information.  Now, with thanks to a huge amount of available online courses you can get practical knowledge on nearly every subject.  You can train yourself in almost every career path you can dream of, while also getting the certification.  Some of my favourite online courses platforms are LinkedIn Learning and Lynda (now a part of Linkedin Learning).  Paying a monthly fee allows unlimited access to thousands of courses in areas such as business, design, web design, software development, photography courses. With more than 5,000 courses and personalized recommendations, you can discover, complete, and track courses related to your field and interests.

Another interesting choice is Masterclass, a new online education platform where the world’s most successful people teach what it is that made them successful. They share their knowledge in highly captivating and inspiring 3-15 minute video lessons.

You should also check Udemy,  where you can not only learn new skills with affordable options but also an opportunity to advertise and sell courses that you develop.

Spend some time on research and you will find something that captures your interest and will bring you closer to attaining new skills.

3. Becoming more Visible

While it’s clear that people are spending more time online during the lockdown, there is an opportunity for your business to develop content that reaches your target audience.  As a Digital Marketing Agency, we believe that there are a huge amount of ways to develop quality content. If you’re looking to increase your brand awareness, try starting with some of these ideas below:

Don’t be afraid to be Social. 

Social Distancing doesn’t mean you avoid your target market audience. Social Media [2] is an important tool that you should take advantage of. More people are spending time online and are looking for engagement with quality content. Why not take the opportunity, while spending time at home, to build your audience with Live Streaming or showcasing your business in a new way? Linking back to your website is a great way to drive traffic and push online sales where possible.

Get Creative with Building Content

The main driver of traffic has always been content. Good content can be in the form of quality photography, graphic designs, engaging video and a quality descriptive written article or post. As a business owner, the quality of your brand should be evident in your online presence. I encourage you to use the time in lockdown to refresh older article blogs or start a new blog, update your website with gallery images. If you want to have even more impact, grab your camera and start a Vlog of Live Streaming, where you can present your products or services and share professional knowledge with your audience.

Start Online Advertising 

Most of the small businesses immediately cut their expenses where possible and cut all advertising. In my opinion, it is not the best move. On the contrary, if you want not only to survive the crisis but also to thrive you should investigate the option of paid online advertising [3]. Many platforms are cost-efficient ways of driving positive leads to your business. This is most appropriate if you still have ways of selling products or services. Using LinkedIn Ads, Google Ads or Facebook Ads (depending on your audience) will surely help your company to become visible and create a better awareness of your brand.

These three simple tips; building your online business, investing in training and building awareness of your Brand are very productive ways of using this time wisely.  Our team are continuing to work remotely and are happy to schedule a live meeting via Zoom.  We believe that this is a time to encourage growth in whatever form it takes.