When I was in college, one of the lessons a professor gave us was short and sweet: when the business isn’t doing well financially, the first thing to go is marketing.
I graduated from Drake University with a Bachelor's in Mass Communication in 2009 at the end of the Great Recession. When it came to finding a copywriting job, there were none. Not even an internship. My professor’s words came true - everyone was scaling back and the job market for my industry showed it.
Now, don’t take this as a “poor me” type of post, that’s not the direction I’m going here. If anything, it’s more “poor them” as in the business owners. Another lesson that same professor taught us was that the businesses that get through hardships and thrive after are those who don’t stop marketing, at least not completely.
And unfortunately, many business owners don’t know the value of their marketing.
I’ll be the first to admit that marketing your business when the finances aren’t strong doesn’t seem like the right choice. Here’s the thing - if you don’t keep yourself top of mind, you’ll be forgotten. I’ve seen that firsthand - people forget about what I do when I haven’t been posting on social media, networking, and keeping up on my blogs and emails (as I referenced in another blog). Trust me when I say my business has suffered because of it.
This is why I always encourage my clients to at least invest (time and/or money) in emails like my Customer Care Emails. It can cover a few bases:
1. Staying top of mind: no matter the frequency, you’ll always be in their inbox. Even if they don’t always read it, yours is the first name that comes to mind for service.
2. Showing expertise: both sharing your blogs as well as industry news. Remember that just because it seems simple to you, it’s not for everyone.
3. Referrals: when you’re top of mind, you then give them something to pass along to someone who might need what you do.
4. Builds trust: if you’re giving them relevant information and not just selling to them all the time, they know you’re a good resource.
When things get tough, like a recession, marketing is one way that helps keep the doors open.
You might be thinking “but I need to watch my spending!” That’s why I’ve talked about having marketing as a line item in your budget. It’s better to have it budgeted and be able to adjust it than not have it or scrap together something like bad leftovers.
Just like a friendship needs to be nurtured, so does your relationship with your customers. Marketing is all about building those relationships not simply telling people how well you do what you do or how amazing your product is (that’s advertising). It’s about providing them with helpful and relevant info. Otherwise, they’ll slowly start to tune you out and most likely won’t use your services or recommend you when the time comes.
If COVID has taught you anything as a business owner, let it be that marketing works. Find ways to keep communicating with your customers and they will help see you through the hardest times!
Thoughts from Me
Tips, advice, and more from my experience as a copywriter, marketer, and small business owner.