News & Views

Now is the time to be productive

6 marketing initiatives to focus on during the pandemic

An illustration of masked woman on a couch with three arms using a laptop, phone, and tablet all at once.

Despite what the New York Times suggests, for those of us who have some time on our hands — and are lucky enough not to be focused on a sick loved one or where our next meal is coming from — this is a chance to recenter and take care of business, on all levels. In the marketing realm, that includes back-burner projects and, more importantly, the larger branding initiatives that are going to drive our businesses forward.

Using this time to get your marketing house in order not only enables you to hit the ground running when the pandemic threat subsides, but it’s also good for your team’s morale. Nothing boosts self esteem more than the feeling of accomplishment and working on things for the future — which implies there will be a future, one in which your organization will thrive.

To that end, here are six marketing investments to make now.

1. Produce content.

One of the things we hear most often from clients is, “We would love to produce thought leadership, but we just don’t have the bandwidth” or, “We’d love to have a blog, but we can’t publish frequently enough to get any traction.” Well, if you’re like many organizations right now, you have subject matter experts and marketers with time on their hands. Get those long-form articles and snackable tips written and designed. Right now, publish content that can help your clients as they deal with this strange new world we’re all trying to adjust to. But also create a cache of evergreen content that you can drip out when you get busy again. While some of our agency’s business has slowed during the pandemic, we’re getting an uptick in calls from clients wanting help with producing thought leadership — both timely and evergreen. The smartest marketers are focused on building a library of content. If you’re not doing the same, you may be falling behind.

2. Strengthen your social media presence.

All eyeballs are online right now. There’s no better time to turn your attention to your business’s social media presence. But where to start? Look for the “no” answers to these questions:

  • Are your company’s profile images, header images, and descriptions on brand and up to date? Do you have a cross-channel social strategy that allows you to quickly produce content optimized for each platform?
  • Are you producing the right content for each of your audiences?
  • What are your competitors doing on social? What can you learn from them and then how can you improve upon it?
  • Is your company’s profile on LinkedIn fully fleshed out, and are you up to speed on how hashtags work on the platform?
  • Are your images and graphics on Instagram adequate for this highly visual platform?
  • Are you reaching out to the right business thought leaders and influencers on Twitter, getting on their radar, and building followers from theirs?

Now is the perfect time to beef up your social media strategy, build a templated system for visual assets, and engage with users.

3. Spruce up your website.

When we design websites for our clients, we try to emphasize that they are not a one-and-done project. Websites need to be treated like the dynamic channels that they are, updated and maintained on a regular basis. (And we’re not talking about the backend technical stuff, although that’s important too.)

  • Is your homepage working hard enough for you? Does it tell your brand story and value proposition, or is it bombarding users with timely content that’s better served to them through push marketing?
  • Is there a new tool or wizard you can add that will help your site visitors understand your offering better or provide a useful service that keeps them coming back to your site?
  • Is there a section of your website that you’ve been wanting to do a complete overhaul on — or perhaps it’s the whole site that needs one?
  • Is the “static” content on your website up to date and accurate? Is it optimized for on-page SEO?
  • Is there any missing information that needs to be added? Checking your analytics for on-site search terms will give you a clue to what might need to be added or surfaced. (It’s also a great way to find topics for new thought leadership.)
  • Is your site ADA compliant? That is, do all the images have alt tags? Do the colors and text meet contrast requirements? Does your source code enable blind users to access your site fully using assistive technology? Are your videos captioned or do you provide full transcripts of them?
  • Do you have 404 page errors that are dragging down your SEO?
  • Are your page titles and metadata optimized for search?

4. Tackle off-site SEO.

Your website’s search engine optimization has a lot to do with what’s out there on the internet linking back to it. This is an often tedious task that we never find time for when things are humming along.

  • How is your organization’s online reputation? Do you have negative reviews that need to be counterbalanced?
  • Are you guest publishing blog posts or commenting on Quora or Reddit posts and linking back to your site?
  • Are you publishing your content on LinkedIn and Twitter?
  • Is your organization listed in online directories for your sector?
  • Do you have a robust and effective approach to regular eblast marketing?

5. Revamp your sales materials.

It’s tough to redo and rollout business development materials when sales are booming. So now is a perfect time to evaluate your sales and marketing collateral and produce needed changes.

  • Is your proposal template on par with those of your competitors? Is its messaging and tone of voice clear and compelling? Is the design of the template polished but also easy to use on a day-to-day basis?
  • Are your staff bios up to date — or perhaps now is a good time to rewrite them in a more innovative style.
  • How is your pitch presentation? Does it have a strong story and is it easily understood by your audience? Is the slide design optimized for wide HD screens? Are the graphics sophisticated and the slides light on text? Do you have a solid script developed in tandem with the slides?
  • Do you have company, product, and service materials in both digital and print formats and ready to send out after the initial sales call or meeting?

6. Move forward with key branding initiatives.

Our natural inclination is to pull back on big branding and marketing programs when the economy turns south. But unless you have to cut spending because of a direct impact to your business, downturns are the perfect time to undertake a key initiative. You’ll have your pick of creative resources, hungry for the work. And when the pandemic is over, you’ll be ready to roll out your new brand identity or messaging strategy or website or recruiting campaign or whatever you’ve been busy developing while your competitors spent their time distracted and worrying.

Sound too risky? Let’s look at what we know about the pandemic: We know the only risk driving this current downturn is the Covid-19 virus and we know it will end. Pandemics have a ceiling, and there will be a vaccine. It might be nine to 18 months from now. But that timeline also happens to be the time it takes to complete a rebrand or fully produce a new website.

This may be our first global pandemic, but we’ve all been here before: a slowed economy that can paralyze us. And then we kick ourselves for not making more of the “down” time when things get busy again. Let’s do it differently this time.