Top 6 Marketing Planning Activities During COVID-19

April 7th, 2020 by Anita Nagle

During this time of crisis, many businesses may find themselves with extra time on their hands, but limited money to spend on marketing. While it can be hard to think about the future, this is the perfect opportunity to do just that and take a deep dive into your marketing plan. Luckily, we’re here to help.

We’ve laid out the top 6 marketing planning activities to ensure your business is ready to hit the ground running, once you’re able to resume business as normal.

Person using highlighter on business documents on desk

1. Reconsider Your Marketing Efforts

Collect all your marketing efforts into a master list and determine their relevance. Your list may include:

  • Website
  • Digital paid advertising (Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, etc.)
  • Google My Business listing
  • Review channels (Yelp, TripAdvisor, etc.)
  • Social media pages
  • Other listings or directories

Do these tactics still make sense? For example, is your business listed in a directory that is no longer relevant to the services you provide?

2. Optimize All Current Marketing Strategies

Audit each tactic and ensure it is optimized. A basic checklist for various platforms:

  • Website
    • Is your site structure intuitive? Do you have a clear navigation?
    • Does each page contain a call-to-action?
    • When was the last time you wrote content?
    • Do you have metadata for each page?
    • Is your website mobile friendly?
  • Listings/Directories
    • Is all information up-to-date?
    • Ensure your name, address, phone number, and website URL are consistent across all listings/directories.
    • Add any additional information you can to flesh out your listing in order to increase organic rankings.
  • Review channels
    • Evaluate both the quality and quantity of reviews on all channels, paying special attention to Google, Facebook, and Yelp.
    • Are you utilizing reviews/testimonials on your website?
    • How are you soliciting reviews? Can this process be improved?
    • How often are you responding to reviews, both positive and negative?
  • Social media pages
    • Do all of your social media channels accurately reflect up-to-date business information and brand?
    • How often do you post on social media channels?
    • Is your tone, voice, and messaging consistent across platforms?
    • Are you utilizing all relevant platforms?
  • Digital paid advertising
    • Are you consistently monitoring all forms of digital paid advertising?
    • Look at the data. What trends are you seeing? Verify if you’re getting an adequate return or results. How has this changed over the years? Is there a better allocation for these dollars?
    • Do you need support? Speak to a digital paid advertising specialist.

3. Perform Competitive Research

Evaluate how your current strategies stack up to your competitors by performing competitive research and analysis.

  • Identify your competitors or similar businesses.
  • Perform a SWOT analysis on your business’ and your competitors’ websites, social media, content marketing, and digital paid advertising.
  • Pro tip: an easy way to see your competitors overall web presence is to simply Google keywords relevant to the business or industry.
  • Take a look at what your competitors are doing in areas they excel in. Can you implement any of these strategies into your marketing plan?

4. Develop Marketing Materials

Quality marketing materials are imperative to a successful marketing strategy but can be extremely time consuming to produce. Time is on our side right now, and the creation and curation of marketing materials can be done at little to no cost!

Restaurant owner taking photographer of their menu items for marketing use

An easy place to start developing marketing materials is taking photos. Pick up your smart phone and start snapping away. A few tips for success:

  • Use the photography composition rule of two-thirds, which suggests how you arrange subjects in your frame. Most digital cameras have an option to add the rule of two-thirds grid onto the screen.
  • Focus on one subject. When appropriate, stage people in your scenes – grab your roommate, significant other, or a family member. (Of course, follow appropriate social distancing guidelines!)
  • Lighting is key! Ensure you have great—ideally natural—lighting, and that your space is not backlit (meaning the light source comes from behind the subject.)

According to Wordstream, “marketers who use video grow revenue 49% faster than non-video users.” The same tips for above apply here, plus a few others:

  • Use a tripod for a steady video. If you don’t have a tripod, get creative—stack books on a table or chair.
  • Film horizontal versus vertical.
  • Have a clear objective or call-to-action.

Remember that great idea you had for a blog post 6-months ago, but didn’t have the time to write it? Let those creative juices flow and begin building up or revamping your content materials.

Once you’ve made your way through optimizing your website content, it’s time to start looking at other strategies. Here are different content formats to add to your arsenal:

  • Blog posts
  • EBooks
  • Whitepapers
  • Infographics
  • Case studies
  • Podcasts
  • Templates, worksheets, and checklists

5. Set Concrete Marketing Goals

Many businesses will need to rethink and reforecast business and marketing goals as a result of COVID-19. To formulate new goals, consider the analysis, research, and asset creation you’ve done, and how the crisis is affecting your business. Think about what you would like to accomplish once we are able to return to business as normal and develop a plan surrounding it.

Utilize SMART Goals to create your plan. SMART goal setting is a simple, trackable method that allows you to create clear and achievable business and marketing objectives, instead of vague resolutions. It is one of the most effective tools for achieving goals in the corporate world due to its scalability, ease of use, transparency, and proven success. A SMART goal is:

  • Specific
    • What do you want to accomplish?
    • How will you accomplish it?
    • When will it be accomplished?
    • With whom will it be done?
    • Why do you want to do this?
  • Measurable:
    • How can you measure progress and know if you’ve successfully met your goal?
    • What metric will you use to know the goal has been reached?
    • What precise amounts can you include?
  • Achievable:
    • Review your specific and measurable goal to ensure it seems reasonable with a little bit of stretch.
    • Are you confident this goal is achievable and sets realistic expectations?
    • Do you have enough time to reach your goal?
    • Do the involved parties have the tools and skills they need to accomplish it?
    • What obstacles would prevent me from reaching this goal?
  • Relevant:
    • Why am I setting this goal now?
    • What is the business’ overall objective?
    • How is this goal aligned with the overall objectives?
  • Time-bound:
    • Do I need additional milestones to keep this goal on track?
    • Do I have enough time to accomplish it in the given time frame?

Be agile with your goals. Plan specific dates to review your progress and check/adjust when necessary, at least once a month.

6. Maintain Audience Engagement

According to Forbes, it costs 5 times more to attract customers than to retain existing ones. The most important thing to do during this time is to keep your audience engaged. Take advantage of any no-cost marketing, such as organic social media posts, blogging, and SEO. If possible, keep paid advertising running. If you are unable to service your customers or consumers remotely, run brand-awareness campaigns. Consumers are spending up to 30% more time online during social distancing. Make sure your brand is front and center so consumers choose your business once doors open again!

Unsure where to begin? Contact one of our strategists today!