Marketing Tips To Use During The Covid-19 Crisis

Marketing Tips To Use During The Coronavirus Crisis

Covid-19

March, 19th, 2020

Marketing During The Covid-19 Crisis

Tips & Tools For Small Business Owners

I wrote an article about digital marketing during this crisis in early March, right around the time everything started hitting the fan… Of course, that was before this few weeks happened! I never thought things would be shut down the way they have. This past few weeks has had a disastrous impact on many small businesses and on the individuals they employ. First, as difficult as it has been, and we expect it might be, we all need to take a moment to calm and reflect… If not just for a moment to clear our minds and attempt to make sense of the situation.

Are you thinking calm thoughts now? Take a look at the rocks in the picture above, it was relaxing when I took the photo, and it's still relaxing now to look at... Okay, are you ready? Once you have that part done, and feel a little calmer about this situation, it’s time to focus on avoiding and planning. Yes, keep your 6 feet distance from others, and hopefully the social distancing will reduce the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus… but, depending on your budget, you should also avoid digital marketing companies completely if you are not already working with one.

Yes, you heard that right… As an owner of a digital marketing company, I am suggesting you stay away from hiring us, or any digital marketing or SEO company If you are not currently working with one. I would especially avoid signing up with a new digital marketing company now, unless your company actually has the ability to afford such a thing. In fact, I am warning all business owners to avoid any digital marketing company that is promoting fear and dependence; or equally bad in my view, using this virus to generate leads by spreading their “generosity,” (otherwise known as bs).

Before I get to how you can take care of digital marketing and SEO yourself, let me explain my comments above about avoiding digital marketing companies. First, if someone is using fear to grow their business, they have no problems exploiting a catastrophe to help themselves. Is that really a company you can trust in the future to work on your project? It’s common in marketing though... My coworker used to say, the difference from someone in marketing and a farmer, is that the person doing marking uses a bigger shovel. While I that's not universally correct, it's true for many in our field. Fear is a big motivation for many marketing campaigns. Think of all those deodorant commercials in the 80s... "Nobody will like you if you don't use our deodorant!" In the words of Mark Mothersbaugh, there’s “Too Much Paranoias.” Fear shouldn't dictate your marketing strategies, and people that promote fear, well, in my opinion, truly suck.

What is worse than this are the so-called generous companies that will help you during this tough time and do SEO for free… Why would I put down such a good deed? Because it’s a lead generation strategy and has nothing to do with generosity. If I am being generous, I am personally letting friends or acquaintances know that I can help them. Why would I publicly advertise or announce that as a professional digital marketer or SEO expert, that I will offer free services to help those in need due to the coronavirus? Think about it for a second, and then continue reading. Look, digital marketing agencies gotta eat too, I get it. But we don't need to do that by exploiting concerns of small business owners - that's essentially my point here. Also, when it comes to effective search engine optimization, it doesn't happen overnight.

SEO takes time. The minimum amount of time that it takes to do SEO is 2-3 hours per month, per client. That is barely scratching the surface, good SEO strategies take 5-8 hours or more per week. Not to mention the time other digital marketing services take. If 100 companies contacted me today to help them with SEO, and other digital marketing services, that’s a lot of time. Let’s say an average of 5 hours were spent per client, per month (which is an extremely low estimate for all of these services). So, that’s what, 500 hours… Well, with a 40 hour workweek, that’s what, 6-7 weeks? So, ask yourself, are they being generous, or disingenuous? Answer: they are trying to generate leads based on their supposed generosity. They have no intention on helping, only get you added to their CRM so they can look good, pat themselves on the back, and so you will pay them in a few months when the crisis is over.

I understand the time it takes, and SEO can’t be done for free by a digital marketing company. Digital marketing companies wouldn’t be in business, or would find themselves laying off people or closing down if they gave away services. It’s not possible, nor realistic, and is simply a means at promoting their company using cause marketing and phony generosity. In the same way digital marketing companies are struggling, so are restaurant owners, dentists, and clothing stores. As someone who is in business for myself, a business mentor for a national organization, and a husband and father, it’s a difficult time for all of us, and it’s definitely not the time to take advantage of the desperation of others; especially desperate small business owners facing their own demise.

These reasons above are why I have such a problem with these tactics. Quite literally, I see these digital marketing companies as vultures, looking to score due to desperation. Sorry (not sorry) to be insulting to my colleagues and peers, and I do understand they are also feeling desperate, but now isn’t the time. Businesses that do offer digital marketing services can do well, and be ethical. My goal is to inspire those of you who are worried about your small business to not hire companies like ours right now, unless you actually have the revenue to support such a thing. I'd like to also inspire my colleagues to think about ethical means of growing their business. In fact...

Here’s a message to all of you who offer digital marketing services:

Step back, and stay calm. Perhaps it wasn’t all thought through and you were worried about your own situation and didn't think of how others are suffering? We all make mistakes. I really don’t want to insult you, I want to change the way we do business as an industry. There is enough business to go around for all of us. We can join together to help our individual communities. After the Coronavirus crisis is over, there will be plenty of businesses looking for reputable digital marketing companies. Let’s turn the page for those tactics and try something new? Let’s help strengthen our existing clients, rather than trying to get new ones by using fear? Just a thought. There’s no reason for any of us to be spreading fear, nor offering false hope to generate leads. We can work together as an industry, and recognize our own faults, and not only will we all be better for it, we will inspire others. This is sincere, and an opportunity for all of us to think about our neighbors, more than ourselves.

To all small business owners:

You don’t need to be desperate, and you should be aware of anyone who would exploit a crisis to get leads. You shouldn’t hire a new company right now if you are laying off employees and struggling. Why hire when you can do some of this yourself or have one of your staff do this? There is so much you can do on your own, and I’m going to explain a few of them… I want you to succeed. Not so you eventually hire us, but because I honestly have the ethics that I espouse. I am in this industry because I like helping small businesses grow. I like watching entrepreneurs go from an idea, to a successful business. Anyway, you can do this! You just need to focus, plan, and start working! Of course, we still work with small businesses, will still create websites for customers, but unless you have the resources, I would recommend doing as much as you can yourselves. If you can't, or are limited in time, then, and only then, should you start working with a digital marketing company.
Some of you can do digital marketing on your own, without the help of others. Sure, it can be tough, and it is very time consuming, but if you are at home or work, isolating yourself from your employees and keeping your social distance (I hope you are), why not try? This is your chance to get involved and learn how to do some of the digital marketing yourself. In fact, you may be good at it! Perhaps you will learn to understand it more so later when you hire someone, you can “speak their language,” or at least get an idea of what they are doing? This is a good way to be empowered and understand the digital marketing process.

If you do these things on your own, you can keep your business going, or at least increase your search engine placement so when things are normal again, your business shines. As long as you are careful, avoid common pitfalls, you can help grow your business. You might be able to learn a few things today that can help your business stay afloat until this crisis is over. In fact, even if you have the resources to hire someone, I would recommend to spend at least a few days learning more about digital marketing before you hire someone; at least you will have a better understanding so you can know if you are getting played or not. There are so many things you can do, and I’m going to cover some of them below. I am also only going to mention free services, and despite the price tag, all of these are invaluable and are the same tools digital marketing and SEO professionals use.

What search engine tools are you currently using? I recommend all using the following tools for any digital marketing plan:
Dover NH Marketing Team

Stand Back! It's Time For Social Distancing.

01

Google Search Console

Google's Search Console is often considered one of the first steps in doing SEO. It has a number of tools to evaluate your keywords, meta tags, backlinks, and various other things impacting your website. Once you are signed up, it provides a simple way to view how your website is seen by Google in order to improve your SEO strategy.
02

Google Analytics

Are you looking to see how many visitors are coming to your website, where they came from, what pages they visited, and how much they are reading through your pages? This is the tool to use.
03

Grow With Google

Google has many resources to help you do this on your own. Grow with Google is one website where you can get information about digital marketing, best practices, etc.
04

Google Primer

Google Primer is one of my favorites; as it’s an app for both Android and Apple, and provides lots of tools to learn on the fly. It's basically a digital teacher, helping you learn things you didn't know, or gain insight for things you have a basic understanding of.
05

Google My Business

Though further down the list, this is imparitive that you use this, and know how to use it. This is where you update your information on Google, including your logo, address, phone number, etc. In fact, when you get those calls claiming to be from Google and offering to manage your listing? Well, that's not Google (I wrote a whole article about that here).
06

SCORE

SCORE is one of the most valuable resources we have as small business owners. Whether you already have a successful business, or are looking to start one new, SCORE can help you by providing skilled mentors to help you point you in the right direction to get your business off the ground, or keep it growing. I am not only a SCORE mentor, but I was also someone looking to start a business and first met with a SCORE mentor back in the early 1990's.

I'm not done. I'll add more tools in the coming days (and weeks). 

You can also just get on Google (or any search engine) and search “how to do SEO,” or something along those lines. You will find a variety of good information (along with lots of bad information). I would be careful and focus on the sources. There are a few good digital marketing news websites, but ultimately, Google is one of the best resources for how to properly manage your website and perform search engine optimization.

You likely have some of these tools already setup. In fact, don’t make changes to your website until you verify if you already have these things setup. If you know you don’t, you should make sure to refer back to this page and sign up with every service mentioned above. They're free, easy to implement, and you will be glad you started now. Even if you hire someone later, you will understand more about the process, and can at least verify someone is actually doing work for you.

Sometimes digital marketing companies will set this up for you, but after you let them go, they refuse to give you access. I’m not sure why any digital marketing company would do this, but it’s very common in my industry. In fact, I just had this happen last week with another company who would not give their client access to their own tools. Most companies that start working with me have this issue with their last digital marketing agency. They will say they can’t transfer the account, or make some other excuse.
Let me be clear: They are lying to you. They can add you as a user, and then revoke their own access once you are set up as the owner or administrator. This goes for all of the above services mentioned. You must be thinking I'm hard on people in my industries… You are correct. :-)

Here are some other ideas to keep your business going, and even help you later:

How about adding a shopping cart to your existing website? That has the potential to reduce some of the impact of a loss of in-store visitors, and if you spend some time doing SEO, you might be able to generate some revenue during this downtime as well. People still have needs. If you are safe, careful, you could offer to ship items via the mail, or even offer delivery to your local customers. That would be a welcome change, and I’m sure many would love to support their local businesses, since we are their friends, neighbors, and members of their communities.

One of our clients sells products in their retail stores. We recently finished their website (actually, just finished it yesterday and working on another today). One of the things we did was add a shopping cart, so in the meantime, they can sell some of their products and deliver it, without the need for customers to visit their store! It took a little extra time to build in that functionality, but it makes it easier for them to reduce the impact of less in-store customers. Whether you have a Jooma or WordPress website, you can add a shopping cart, get acquainted with Google’s search, and find all there is to learn how to implement a shopping cart on your website.

This article is a living document… That is, I wanted to get this up quickly so people could start taking advantage of the advice, and I will add to it over the next few days (and weeks) to provide additional information that can help any business. I hope you, your friends and family, and your coworkers and colleagues, all stay safe, and out of harm's way, and that you are able to successfully navigate through this crisis and end up better than where you started.

Now, to end on a good note, I hereby input the song "Stand Back" by Stevie Nicks in your head for the remainder of the day... If you don't know the song, shame on you. If you do, isn't it great to have a good song stuck in your head?

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