10 Things You Need To Know About
IN A CRISIS
// DIGITAL MARKETER
// BUSINESS OWNER
In the face of a crisis, you will ask yourself many questions. Do you automatically stop your campaigns? Do you cut your adspend budget? Redirect traffic to a safer product, or do you adjust your current offer? In most cases, your sales and transactions will dictate campaign adjustments. Will you close enough deals to cover your advertising budget? Will you have the cash flow to invest in marketing? Will the sales cycle be longer because of the crisis? Do you cut operating costs elsewhere? Most of these questions have already crossed your mind. However, the single most important question that the majority of business owners fail to ask is not one with an easy answer:
Where is the biggest opportunity in this crisis?
1. Who Is Going To Win?
What type of business will benefit from aggressive marketing during this crisis, and can you replicate what they’re doing?
Simple Answer:Businesses promoting offers that don’t require an immediate sale will benefit during this crisis more than the rest. Here are some examples so you can determine if you fall into this category:
1. Businesses that offer discount vouchers: Medical clinics offering discounts for procedures that can be booked 3-6 months out; travel packages or vouchers that you can purchase at a discounted rate now and use 18-24 months from now (see screenshots below). Travel packages flooded the social media networks as a response to the coronavirus; venues that offer discount packages for events that will be booked months from now such as weddings will also benefit.
2. Businesses with long sales cycles: Plastic surgeries and medical procedures that are booked at least one month out; business and real estate purchases that require appraisals, inspections and, in some cases, adjustments or rehabs; another example would be cell-site companies, a very interesting industry that I was involved in for a number of years; any industry with a sales-cycle longer than a month.
3. Businesses with repeat clients: If your ideal client is someone who comes back for your services periodically, you have a great chance of winning during the crisis;
4. Businesses offering crisis-relief services: Businesses offering help with loans, grants, and crisis-relief packages; e-commerce stores offering crisis relief products;;
Unexpected opportunities: At a time when the entire country is on a self-quarantine, no one feels safe traveling and people are losing jobs, so the last industry you would suspect to thrive is the travel industry. However, several advertisers are doing shockingly well right now. If you look at the examples below, you will see a brilliant execution by companies who were able to recognize multiple opportunities: competitors pulling back on their advertising, leaving the market open; people who are stuck at home, wishing they could get away; and an offer that allows them to use the voucher within 18-24 months.
2. Who is going to lose?
Let’s be real – many companies will not be able to survive the upcoming changes, and marketing will certainly not help them. So what types of businesses will lose during this time, and how can you protect yourself?
Simple Answer: Businesses that don’t look for an “opportunity first” during the time of crisis will absolutely lose. If you are not asking yourself and your team where the opportunity is, just know that your competitors are.
Example: We just uploaded several broadcast commercials to Comcast, Fox, and 11Alive here in Atlanta. It turns out the networks are “giving away the spots” because most advertisers pulled out. My clients can get spots at a quarter of the price that they were paying before.
This is an example of a knee-jerk reaction made by our clients’ competitors: pulling out broadcast commercials at a time when most people are staying at home. Even without the price reduction – this would be the best time to get in front of your audience if you advertise on TV. Imagine getting four times more viewers at a quarter of the cost.
The opportunity in this case is clearly switching to a different media outlet. And while some businesses realized and seized the opportunity, others caved in and got out of the way.
Another important distinction: Some businesses may have an opportunity to thrive in this market, while some should be looking for an opportunity to absorb the impact, save jobs or even their company. If you are not looking for those opportunities, you are simply in “survival” mode. Good luck.
3. Where is the opportunity?
Where to look for opportunities and how to recognize them
Simple Answer: There are many opportunities available outside the marketing realm: shifts in your industry; increased/decreased demand for your products; repurposing services; etc. My opinion on them would be just that – an opinion, not expert advice. However, when it comes to digital marketing, I can definitely point you in the right direction based on data the marketing community has access to.
1. Search Engines: Search engine marketing is dictated by the search keywords and volume. If people are not actively searching for your service, you will have a harder time finding them in search engines. The cost of each click will go up. On the other hand, some keywords might have more searches and the cost of clicks might go down. Let’s look at some examples.
There is a significant increase in the “home-gym equipment” search volume. If you sell gym equipment, this is your time, and the best place to advertise is probably on Google. This graph below is showing you a gold mine for gym equipment stores. However, the main take-away from the graph below is probably not that you can sell gym equipment on Google. The main take-away is that without understanding and looking for opportunities, your business will retract and fold, when it could actually expand and grow.
There is a significant increase in the search volume for “work from home” related terms. This just shows you that following Google Trends – you will be able to spot opportunities and make insightful and informed decisions rather than emotional ones.
And while some terms such as “hiring now” and “business loan” are seeing an increase in volume, keywords like “rent a car” (the blue line) are getting fewer searches. If you are a car-rental company, you may want to reduce your adspend budget.
What’s obvious from this section is that some gym equipment companies will tremendously benefit from this crisis. Unfortunately, most will have a knee-jerk reaction and cut back on their marketing budget. This is the exact mindset that will put many companies out of business, at the time where they could thrive, if they asked the right questions and if they understood the marketing landscape of their industry.
At the same time – it’s those types of companies that help the rest grow against all odds, in some cases even without trying. Let’s take a look at what’s going on in the world of social media, so you can see what I mean.
2. Socal Media: Unlike search engines, social media traffic is not dictated by any keywords or search terms. This means that you can reach the right people at the right time as long as they log in to their social media profiles. What we’re seeing during this crisis is that more people are checking their social media profiles, and they are checking in more often, probably due to a quarantine. At the same time, most advertisers are stopping their campaigns. Less competition means that you can get cheaper clicks to your offer. Facebook will display your ads more often, and charge you a lot less. This means that you can get more leads, while paying less money for each lead.
Let’s take a look at one of our campaigns for a plastic surgeon. Let’s compare the current week (March 23-26) with the same time-frame just two weeks ago (March 9-12). As you can see in the photo below, we spent less money this week to get a lot more leads than we did just two weeks ago. Keep in mind – there are still 10 hours left until the end of the day. By the end of this day, we should have almost twice as many leads in the campaign, while spending roughly the same amount of money (4x$50=$200).
This is just one example of opportunities that open up only during a crisis. I could dig further into this subject, a lot further. However, that conversation would probably get too analytic for a busy business owner to be able to digest it in a blog-post format. Our clients can get a detailed breakdown of their campaigns, their marketing landscape, and their industry. This type of analysis requires a certain amount of time and focus to be effective.
4. What do you need to do next?
What are the immediate steps every business owner should take?
Simple Answer: Educate your clients about the opportunities that lay ahead of them. Alert your team and prepare them to be open to opportunities. Reach out to your consultants and vendors to find out about any possible opportunities that they are aware of.
Most of your clients will be facing new challenges and they will present new objections to your products and services. It’s rare that you will see a client who comes to you with a question like: “Where is the opportunity in this?” We handle lead-generation for plastic surgeons, amongst some other industries. I heard a concern that their patients won’t be able to fly in for procedures and that several of my clients expected cancellations. I just got off the call with one of my clients earlier today. It turns out he’s had several new patients unexpectedly book a procedure during this two-week period. Those patients also drove anywhere from three to twelve hours to have the surgery done. As it turns out, most plastic surgery patients delay their procedures because they can’t go back to work immediately. They can’t afford to lose money by being absent from work. This temporary quarantine was a perfect opportunity for them to get the procedure completed and not lose a single day of paid work. This was an unexpected opportunity, and we are launching multiple campaigns for several plastic surgeons next week with the focus on the new-found benefits of plastic surgeries performed during the quarantine.
In the previous step, you saw a screenshot of a live Facebook campaign that is getting a lot more applicants for plastic surgery procedures while paying a lot less money for them. Combine that with a perfect time to get a procedure done, without taking any additional time off work, risking losing your job, or having to face your co-workers too soon after the procedure. These are the types of opportunities that you need to make sure your clients are aware of. It doesn’t matter what industry you serve or what your ideal client is. You will have three types of customers: (1) on the far left, there are customers that will fold and go home in the face of a crisis, no matter what you say; (2) on the far right, there are those that will come to you with ideas, answers, and proposals; (3) the majority of your clients will be somewhere in between. They will need clarity, guidance, and a push. Some of them will fight their way through the crisis, they will spot and recognize opportunities, and they will grow despite the crisis. Some will close the shop, let some employees go, and start again, or start something else a few months from now. What happens with them largely depends on you, your communication, and your ability to provide industry insight they are not aware of.
5. How do I adjust my marketing efforts?
Where do I spend more money? Where do I cut back? What kind of changes do I need to make?
Simple Answer: Follow the marketing companies who are ahead of the curve.
We use several tools that alert us as soon as one of our clients’ competitors makes a shift in their advertising. If there is a new campaign – we know about it. If they change their ads, target audience and placement – we know about it. If they have a new video – we know about it.
Our clients don’t have these capabilities nor time to deal with it. That’s why we do it for them. Regardless of what type of industry you’re in, there are clear winners who will recognize and take advantage of every opportunity, in the middle of a crisis or not.
You need to stay on top of these companies and, more importantly, on top of their marketing agencies. As a marketing agency, my team and I have insight into more industries, advertising platforms, and more data than a single business owner would have time to sort through. It’s my job. Your competitor more than likely won’t be able to recognize the marketing opportunity, but their advertising agency more than likely will.
These are some of the tools that we use to stay on top of our competitors and our clients’ competitors.
6. What actions can I get the most value from?
How do I gain momentum and get moving in the right direction?
Simple Answer: Develop a “re-engagement” marketing plan and dig into your existing pool of users/buyers/customers. This will help you not just get some immediate cash-flow but also set you up for success for years after the crisis.
I talk to a lot of business owners. They range from small teams of 3-5 people to CEOs of companies with offices and affiliates in all 50 states. They all have one thing in common: a highly underutilized pool of leads that have already been acquired, then neglected.
At best, these business owners at least suspect that they have a good follow-up strategy. In most cases, that strategy relies on their in-house team making manual phone calls dialing their database. This only ties up their staff, costs a lot of money, and ends in frustration.
We have a “re-engagement” software that we use to tap into our clients’ existing databases. As a matter of fact, we have a service that does only that. No lead-acquisition, just a re-engagement campaign. Fully automated, fully scalable, and extremely profitable. We have yet to acquire a client who wasn’t impressed with the level of automation and efficiency of our re-engagement campaigns. But I’m not here to sell you our re-engagement campaigns. I am here to stress the importance of establishing and running effective re-engagement campaigns to your past and current leads.
Use this time to set up a plan and tap into your existing database. There are many tools out there that you can use to dump your existing leads and automate the follow-up message. This will help you re-engage the old leads and bring out the leads who see the opportunity in a crisis and want your help. While we only offer our software to our clients and not to the general public, you can use the following website to do it yourself:
7. What should I be aware of?
What are some red flags I need to recognize before I go down the wrong line?
Inside your organization: There are things you can spot within your organization, and there are red flags you will spot outside of it. When it comes to marketing, the biggest issue that I see is teams making decisions based on their emotions, rather than information. You have to be able to spot ideas, suggestions, and decisions that were driven by emotions and panic, rather than information and insight.
Outside your organization: (1) Misreading the market adjustments; (2) Following the wrong advice.
Market Adjustments – Your competitors and advertising companies are making adjustments. A lot of times, a business owner will notice adjustments and think of them as a progressive adjustment, instead of recognizing it as a retraction adjustment. This happens a lot with heavily discounted prices (50% OFF). It’s really hard to differentiate a profitable campaign with a carefully planned discount, from a panic campaign where a business gives away the profit.
Bad advice – It’s incredible how many “influencers,” “consultants,” and “gurus” are coming out with “recession-proof systems” to spend their way through the crisis. I have launched businesses through a recession. I have helped businesses thrive in a recession. I have navigated through a recession on more levels than I like to remember. Yet, I still can’t sit here and tell you that there is a bulletproof system to advertise your way through a recession. Let’s get real. There are plenty of opportunities in this crisis, and most companies will simply miss them. Furthermore, I can’t say that most of the opportunities will come from the marketing angle. The truth is, you may have to repurpose your product or service to make it through the crisis, which falls under “product development” and not “marketing.”
8. What is the main keyword here?
If you were to sum it all up in a single keyword what would it be?
Simple Answer: “FAST.” You’ll need to act faster.
Here is the reality – every industry has enough demand to meet the needs of a single organization. In other words, there are enough clients out there for your company to thrive, not just survive during a crisis. But you will need to get to them a lot faster, and you will have to shorten the transaction period – close the sale as quickly as possible.
The good news is that your competitors are pulling out during a crisis, making it easier for you to take their share of the market and get to your ideal prospect quicker. Each company that cuts down on advertising, pulls back on their ads, or just pauses the campaigns is making it easier for you to take advantage of this tremendous opportunity.
As your ad agency, my team and I secretly hope that your competitors are spending less money on advertising so that we can get you more leads at a lower cost. With every new advertiser in your market, we have to make more adjustments and fight for those impressions, clicks, and conversions. Guess what? Your competitors are pulling out now. And as a result, we can simply sit and watch more leads come in at a lower rate.
I really hope you understand the significance of the screenshot below. This is the same campaign that I uploaded yesterday, except this is the screenshot after the end of the day.
As advertisers backed out, Facebook automatically lowered the cost of impressions, giving us twice as many leads for the same amount of money. The cost of lead went from $18 (two weeks ago) to $9.5 (this week).
If you are struggling to survive due to the lack of new leads, your problem won’t be solved by waiting for more prospects to show up in the market. Your problem will be solved by getting to the existing leads faster, closing them faster, and executing your transaction faster.
9. What’s one thing you (me, the author) personally utilize during this crisis?
What do you do during these times of crisis that’s working for you and your team?
Short Answer: My team and I always fall back on videos. And even though I have a full-blown video production company, we create short voiceover videos that work wonders. I suggest you do the same.
Example: Here is a video that we shot and edited in a single day in order to handle the crisis with one of my companies. This company has two crews that clean kitchen exhaust systems for local restaurants. Unlike regular cleaning companies, the exhaust systems require all types of certificates, training, and liability insurance because you’re dealing with compliance issues as well as preventing restaurants from catching fire.
The problems that we are facing are obvious (1) restaurants closing, (2) two crews that need to be paid.
The opportunities: (1) This is the perfect time to service exhaust systems because if we did it while restaurants were operating, they would have to shut down and lose business for a few days; (2) We don’t have to turn profit, only cover the cost of our crew, so we can simply extend a “pay what you can” offer and ask restaurant owners to cover the cost of labor, keeping our crews busy; (3) Whether we come to terms and do a job or not, we are getting leads that will turn into new clients and repeat business, while keeping the company afloat during this time. This is a huge number of potential new business, because we are offering them a chance to introduce our services at a “break-even” rate during the crisis.
As you can see, the video we created is very simple. My business partner recorded a voiceover and my team handled the production. You can create powerful videos like this without having to pay much at all. They’re powerful and they will help you stand out during the crisis.
y simple. My business partner recorded a voiceover and my team handled the production. You can create powerful videos like this without having to pay much at all. They’re powerful and they will help you stand out during the crisis.
Additionally, our suppliers called us and put us on a “preferred” and “platinum” pricing plan, which in itself is a savings of thousands of dollars each year.
So in addition to tapping into your existing database of leads, go ahead and create a few videos and use them to educate, inform, and engage your prospects. You don’t need a professional video production company to handle this project for you, although it could definitely help. All you need is a voice recorder, a great script, and a few stock photos. You can use free online software to combine it into a promotional video.
10. Final words outside of the marketing world?
What else is worth sharing so that we can get through this?
The final words and my personal opinion: My daughter is twelve years old and she is going through the type of crisis that we only see in movies. When I was her age, I was sitting in the basement of a building while machine guns were shooting around it. My family and I made it through two civil wars, a foster family, moving across the planet, and starting over from scratch. There is one common thing that every situation shared: things eventually get back to (new) normal. I watched my parents give up everything ‒ careers, diplomas, friends ‒ in order to come to the United States and give us a chance at a better life. They did it at the age of 50, which is not an easy age to start over, learn a new language, and work two jobs to put your kids through school. I live life knowing that if I had to give up everything I’ve built one day at the age of 50, move to another country, learn to speak a new language, and start all over – I would be able to do it. And that is probably a lot harder than what we’re going through now.
This will be over soon. If you read the entire post and you’re reading this, I have no doubt that you have what it takes to grow through this crisis. I don’t think you will fold, I don’t think you will panic and over-react, I know that you can take time to get informed, spot the opportunity, and take action in a way that would make your competitors wish you were on their team.
My suggested action plan is to download the short “opportunity checklist,” fill it out, and get crackin’. Things are about to get a lot more exciting for all of us.
Lead-Generation Coaching & Consulting
Not A “Marketing Expert”
Marketing is a very broad term that includes a wide range of categories. The types of marketing I don’t specialize in are: offline marketing, print marketing, branding, public relations, influencer marketing, and others. Although I consider myself extremely proficient in all types of marketing, it would be ridiculous for anyone to claim expertise in such a broad area. Beware, some people still do.
My team and I specialize, excel, and dominate a small corner of the marketing industry that makes the biggest impact in our clients’ companies: Lead-Generation. This includes Sales-Funnel Optimization and CRM/Follow-up systems as well. If you are looking to grow your business, if you are looking to outsell your colleagues, your competitors or your entire local market – my team and I are set up to help you do just that. We have engineered, designed, and developed systems that, once put in place, can help you combat everything from low prices, negotiations, long sales cycles, overcoming the most difficult objections, and selling high-ticket items.