Written by Dave Martin
These are some challenging times. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the majority of consumers have stopped buying nonessential products and services, impacting tens of thousands of businesses. In addition to this, any advertising a company is running that’s asking for a sale can appear callous and insensitive.
While the above may be true, your business still needs to survive!
So the issue many companies are currently wrestling with is how to pivot their marketing strategy to be more reflective of the times.
Reduce your marketing budget?
As a business owner, one of the worst feelings is when you realize you’ve wasted money on something. This can be especially true for companies that offer nonessential services and continue to spend a lot of money trying to gain customers. In other words, why continue to advertise if no one is buying?
Many of these kinds of businesses have asked themselves this same question and as a result they either reduced their marketing budget or eliminated it, altogether.
However, by severely cutting your marketing budget, you will miss out on one of the biggest opportunities to earn future customers!
Hootsuite, a popular social media management tool, recently did a survey that found the average person spends six hours and 42 minutes online, everyday. With the majority of Americans now spending more time at home, they inevitably are going to spend more time on their devices. This can potentially increase the amount of time spent online by as much as 50%.
The issue is, no one is looking to buy right now. So your marketing strategy needs to appeal to people that will need your product or service in the future.
Top of the sales funnel
When appealing to potential customers, you should consider their stage in the sales funnel. Potential customers at the top of your funnel usually haven’t heard of your product or aren’t very familiar with it. So the primary goal of marketing in the top of the funnel is brand awareness. Top-of-funnel marketing channels include traditional outreach like TV, radio and billboards; and also generally-targeted digital banner ads, Facebook and Instagram ads as well.
Middle of the sales funnel
Potential clients that make it to the middle of your funnel have heard of your company or the product you sell and they’re doing research, comparing you to your competitors. So the goal to reach potential clients in the middle of the sales funnel is to educate and persuade them — but not yet ask for the sale. Targeted ads on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube are great middle-of-funnel marketing channels enabling you to reach potential customers.
Bottom of the sales funnel
Finally, the bottom of the funnel is where someone is ready to purchase. They’ve done their research and they now are focused on getting the best deal. This is where your company asks for the sale. Popular bottom-of-funnel channels include Google Search Ads and Bing Search Ads. Ads on these channels can appear when your potential customer is ready to buy based on their search query’s intent.
To make the most of the opportunity of Americans spending more time on their devices, your marketing strategies must focus on building brand awareness in the top of the funnel and educating your potential customers in the middle of the funnel.
Importance of building trust
No matter how you’re reaching your target audience, people prefer to do business with companies they trust. This is why focusing on top and middle of the sales funnel strategies are so important because once the trust is built, your marketing will produce more customers.
As an example, Google “Los Angeles personal injury attorney,” click on a few of the Google Ads, then take a look at the websites those ads are promoting. Most of the websites won’t win any design awards and yet those attorneys are gaining a lot of clients with Google Ads because they’ve taken the time to build trust among their target audience with top and middle of the funnel strategies.
What do you promote?
In the midst of the pandemic, people aren’t buying as many products or services right now. But they’re still online and still looking for ways to improve their lives and their careers.
So to appeal to potential customers in a tasteful way at the top of your sales funnel, consider the following strategy:
- — Write a blog post or a new web page on how your industry is affected by COVID-19 and the specific steps people are taking.
- — Then create Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn ads around this blog post with the goal of informing your target audience, but not selling them. This might become a series of blog posts, depending on how long the pandemic lasts. It could first discuss who/what is affected by the virus, and then, later blog posts could discuss how your industry is recovering from it.
- — You will also want to install a remarketing pixel that enables you to stay in front of your potential customers throughout the sales funnel.
- — Now that your audience is aware of your business, develop middle of the sales funnel ads (both static and video ads) that detail your company’s value, experience, some case studies, and further industry insights. The goal of these ads is to only appear to people that have seen your COVID-19 related ads and have read your content.
- — Over time, as your potential customers consume your content, your company will become an industry expert in their eyes.
Following the steps for future success
After three to six months of running your top-of-funnel and middle-of-funnel ads and reaching thousands of people multiple times with timely and helpful messaging, you’ve finally created some powerful brand awareness and trust.
Then, once the COVID-19 pandemic has receded and we are returning to work like normal, you can then target all of these potential customers with bottom-of-funnel channels like Google Search Ads. These search ads will then be effective since your potential customers are very aware of your product or service, they’ve already compared you against your competition, and many of them are ready to buy.
Dave Martin is director of growth for Nettra, a marketing firm in Fresno.