How things can change in such a short amount of time.
A few weeks ago, most of us in marketing, sales and business in general were finalising plans for next quarter, assessing budgets and putting the finishing touches on our events calendar.
Then the whole world seemed to get plunged into chaos and all those well thought out plans went out the window.
Understandably, most businesses are taking the time to take stock of their current position and figure out how to manoeuvre the next weeks and months of uncertainty - and figure out how to adapt to changing ways of work.
But while it can be tempting at this point to look to cut inbound marketing budgets, now is exactly the wrong time to do that.
Now we would say that as an inbound marketing agency (wouldn’t we) but if you look at the research, times of crisis are exactly the time to stay the course with marketing and comms, and even look to increase them.
Just look at the research below taken from stats published by Millward Brown, Data2Decisions and Butterfield.
In each of these studies, they were looking to find the impact of reducing advertising and marketing spend in the event of a crisis, in these cases a recession. And they all found the same thing.
In every study the brands which cut spending during the time of a recession in an effort to save money short-term suffered for it the most in the long term and took longer to recover.
In Data2Decisions’ study for example, companies which cut the most aggressively during the crisis took 5 years to recover, compared to those which cut less aggressively which recovered within 3 years, and those which hardly cut anything, and recovered even quicker.
Millward Brown found that 60% of companies which “went dark” during times of crisis showed declines in at least one brand metric (like falling reputation) while Butterfield found that companies that increased marketing spend during a crisis saw increased ROI.
Now we’re not saying you should ignore your current financial situation (there are many tough decisions that will need to be made in the coming weeks).
But rather than looking to cut your inbound marketing budget, it might make more sense to reallocate some of the budget towards tactics that will have a bigger pay off in the short term, and set you up to recover quicker in the long term.
Making better use of your inbound marketing budget
We all know the adage that “content is king” but today content and messaging are more important than ever.
In times of unrest and instability, information is vital for people to make informed decisions for themselves and their company.
In terms of messaging, empathy is key right now and we’ve written previously about how to get your messaging right in a time of crisis.
When it comes to content, chances are what you had planned to focus on in the next few weeks isn’t going to be relevant, but your customers are still looking for reassurances that you can help them if they need it.
Whether this is tips on how to work from home effectively, any software that could make it easier to stay in touch with their teams, customers or prospects or even creating more video content to produce personal messages and keep making connections - this is all information people need.
Now is the time to double down on content marketing and keep getting messages and useful information out to the people who need it.
If you're struggling on how to start with blogging, or want to improve, check out our essential guide to writing great blogs
Also, as we deal with being a contactless world for now, video can be a great way of adding a personal touch to your content and inbound marketing.
In our webinar with Vidyard we talked about how to make better use of video for sales and marketing in today’s contactless world. Even if you missed the live event you can still access the webinar here.
Now isn’t the time to carry on with the usual sales emails and shiny newsletters, but you still have a database of prospects and customers looking for information, or maybe just some light relief and entertainment from what’s going on outside.
Investing in some informational emails (particularly video) is a great way to reconnect with prospects who have maybe fallen out of the sales loop, stay in touch with current prospects who are worrying about their own business and looking for help, or reaching out to customers with some information on how they can use your product better to help them.
Our MD Rich recently launched his own email newsletter offering zero sales pitches but just offering thoughts and advice to start conversations and build connections and a community for people looking for help.
You don’t need an all singing all dancing email template, just empathy and information.
You can read this blog for 6 tips on getting your email marketing in better shape
Social media (organic and paid)
This is one area that you should definitely be putting a lot of focus on in the next few months.
Not least to make sure you have no automated posts ready to go out that would have worked a treat a few weeks ago but that could come across as out of touch and insensitive in the current climate.
After all, getting tripped up by your own marketing automation is the last thing you need right now
Apart from search engines, businesses will be taking to social media now in search of information or something to take their mind off things.
Putting some more time into creating relevant content here will pay off not just in the short term, but in the long term as well.
Your customers will appreciate the information, and maybe even get a laugh out of you trying to get the hang of video for the first time. Believe us, it took us a while to get to grips with it too.
We've written before about improving your social outreach strategy
The same can be said for paid media.
While you might be tempted to shut down campaigns already underway, it would be more prudent to maybe scale back on spend in the short term to give you time to measure any results you’re seeing, and take some time to review your tone and messaging.
Now here is one area of your marketing that will be changed for a while.
But just because you can’t hold physical events, you should consider shifting your budgets to moving events online.
Ourselves, we have had to cancel our regular HubSpot User Group events, but in the next few weeks we’ve teamed up with Vidyard, Drift and HubSpot for a series of webinars on how to get the best out of video, conversational and inbound marketing in the next few months.
Virtual events are definitely something to consider investing in now. People will be desperate to connect with other people as they get used to working remotely, and a chance to share information or learn something new is something they’ll be grateful for.
Adapting to the new short-term reality
Despite how things are right now, they will get better in the long run and return to some kind of normality in the end.
The reality is that for now we have to adjust to a new way of working for the time being.
But business has to continue in some way.
Times might be tough, and cutting your inbound marketing budget might seem like the only option you have right now. But resisting this urge might just pay off bigger in the long run.
If you want more information on how to run inbound campaigns we have a tonne of resources on our website which you can download for free.
As a start, this guide to creating an inbound marketing strategy for lead generation could help you figure out where to focus your budgets.
We're hosting a webinar with HubSpot on Friday, April 3 starting at 1:30pm where we'll be talking about how you can adapt and change to online and remote working during this time of uncertainty.