Advertising during a pandemic—why and how

The upheaval from COVID-19 has hit companies across the country hard. While we don’t know how far the economy will drop, we do know this: to survive and eventually thrive, your company can’t retreat and hide. Slashing marketing budgets to “bare bones” is likely to get you just that-barely anything-in a return on investment.

Now is the time to double down on marketing. And one of the best ways to reach target markets is by advertising. Just think — ads don’t clutter overflowing inboxes, and they can be highly targeted. And with less competition for advertising space, you can probably negotiate better deals on rates.

Stay top of mind

Of course, the overriding reason to advertise in a struggling market is simple: visibility. With much of business at a virtual standstill and everything in a state of flux, many existing business relationships are being reevaluated. This creates an ideal opportunity for you to get on the radar of new prospects. Companies with the most top-of-mind presence will have the best chance at landing new business. Now more than ever, it’s essential to keep your name front and center.

Try a new outlet

You don’t have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to make an impact. If you know who your best prospects are, it’s neither difficult nor cost-prohibitive to launch a highly focused advertising campaign. Consider new channels you may not yet have explored, such as LinkedIn or Instagram advertising, Google AdWords, or niche industry publications.

With online work and social time continuing to increase, digital advertising is a key addition to your marketing mix. It lets you target audiences discreetly, is highly flexible and adapts easily to fast-changing market conditions.

In addition to general visibility advertising, you can use digital advertising to drive readers to a specialized “campaign” landing page on your website. Unlike your company home page, a campaign landing page has a focused message that persuades visitors to take specific action. In return, they receive something from you—like a thought leadership piece, webinar access, a promotional item or a discount. This process can yield valuable intelligence: Who has clicked through? Where did they come from? What else on the landing page did they click on? How long did they spend on your site? How many gave up personal information in order to receive something?

Make an impact

Whatever type of advertising you choose, make sure it is visually arresting and has a compelling call to action. Eliminate predictable royalty-free stock photos—no more bland images of circuit boards or windmills. Stretch your creative approach so that readers actually stop and look at your ads. The more provocative and compelling the ads are, the better chance your company will be remembered. And consider giving a little something away in exchange for the visitor’s providing personal information. It’s worth it.

Remember: strong brand = strong bounceback

Past studies have consistently shown that companies that increase their marketing during a downturn tend to benefit in the long run. And why not? Buyers clearly feel more comfortable with a company that has a solid, consistent brand presence.

By creating or maintaining some level of advertising, you’ll be giving your company the momentum it needs to outlast difficult times and position itself for the inevitable rebound. And the economy will rebound. We may not know exactly when, but it will. So be ahead of the game. The best time to advertise is always now.

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