3 Ways to Keep Your Local Business Ahead of the Curve (As You Work to Help Flatten it)

April 30, 2020 Cox Media

3 Ways to Keep Your Local Business Ahead of the Curve (As You Work to Help Flatten it)

If you work in sales or marketing at your organization or are a many-hat-wearing local business owner, you’ve likely had to change your approach to building your brand and driving revenue amid the current business restrictions and economic uncertainty. The upheaval of established  strategies has thrown nearly all industries into disarray and left them without a clear path forward.

It's now possible that your previous playbook for advertising and marketing doesn’t apply to the current challenges your company is facing. And few companies had contingency plans in place for such a dramatic disruption of their operations: A survey from Gartner found that just 12 percent of organizations were “highly prepared” for a global crisis that could throw business continuity into flux. Because, who could have expected this?

Regardless of your level of preparation prior to the recent public health crisis, your advertising strategy doesn’t have to sit on the sideline during this period of disruption. In fact, even while your business operations wrestle with a number of restrictions and obstacles, there are plenty of steps you can take right now to help your business hit the ground running as the economy slowly starts to re-open and settle into a new normal.

1. PLAY THE LONG GAME WITH YOUR AD STRATEGY

Some businesses see the economic slowdown as one reason to scale back their advertising campaigns. In the short term, this may save your business some money—but in reality, this decision often comes at the expense of greater profits in the future.

Instead of worrying about the cost of ad campaigns, focus on how you can use this channel to strengthen your brand and its position in the market. If other competitors are scaling back ads, they’re creating an open lane where your campaigns can reach your audience—and possibly at an even greater value than ever before. Television ads, social media, SEO and streaming video and audio are just some of the channels that can help you engage your target audience, keep your brand top-of-mind, and even communicate what your business is doing in response to this paradigm shift.

Remember: While nobody could have predicted the scale of economic challenges facing every industry today, the degree of struggle many companies are facing has been compounded by a lack of foresight and planning. If you don’t take the long view with your ad strategy, you could end up exacerbating these financial losses, rather than reducing them. And as long as you have the right messaging in place, your customers still want to hear from you.

2. NAVIGATE THE "NEW NORMAL" 

As businesses across every industry face challenges, the greatest competitive advantage is creative thinking. As your organization approaches its own problems to be solved, consider how advertising and marketing can be an asset, rather than a line expense.

If you’re able to maintain some modified version of business operations, or even as you start to consider reopening if you have been closed, use your available ad channels to communicate these changes and your availability to customers. Publicize the changes you’ve made to protect your customers and support your community, whether that’s through taking extra precautions during customer interactions, minimizing in-person contact as much as possible, and/or donating money, supplies or services to local charities and nonprofits.

With the business landscape dramatically changed, your selling points to your audience have likely changed too. But an agile advertising strategy can help you emphasize that enduring value and keep your brand top-of-mind throughout this economic downturn.

3. CREATE A PLAN FOR WHEN THE ECONOMY OPENS BACK UP

Your company’s economic outlook may be uncertain, but it’s important to remember that the current challenges to your company are temporary. Eventually, the economy will open back up, and business operations will return to normal.

When that happens, will your company be prepared to leap back into action? The answer to that question depends on whether you’re willing to use this time to develop an advertising strategy that lets you build on the momentum created during this period of uncertainty. Develop a plan for how you will stay ahead of the curve, in terms of your ad messaging and ad spending, your audience targeting, your marketing, and your sales strategy with potential customers.

Internally, you should discuss how the business landscape will be changed after this crisis has ended, and what that might mean for your business and its customers. Will this public health crisis fundamentally change the needs and concerns of your customers? If you’re a restaurant, a home services business, or a dental office, the answer is probably yes.

By anticipating these needs and concerns, and addressing them in your advertising campaigns, you can accelerate your company’s financial recovery, and build better connections with your customers. If you’re ready to start this planning process now, Cox Media is here to help you formulate a winning strategy. And if you’re not prepared for that next step, don’t worry—we’ll be here when you're ready.

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