Marketing In Times of Uncertainty

Daniel Bussius

March 13, 2020

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If you're like the majority of business owners around the world right now you're worried about how your business will survive these times of uncertainty. 

And rightfully so.

When global crisis hits, most industries should prepare to withstand a 15-month downturn in sales of products and services. 

Let's look at some data to back this up: 

SARS outbreak | March 12-July 17th, 2003 (127 days). Source, CDC.

H1N1  outbreak | July 9th-August 11, 2010 (398 days)Source, CDC

Average time to create a vaccine = 6 months. Source, CDC.

Average duration of recessions (from 1945-2001) = 10 months Source, NBER.

I think it's safe to say the matter of a shift in consumer demand will not a matter of "if," but instead "how long?"

While uncertainty reigns across the world​, it doesn't have to mean the downfall of your business.

To start, you can use this time to review your operations, plan, and make the changes necessary to drive deep customer loyalty through value, rapport, and convenience.

With the right steps, you can survive, thrive, and grow stronger. 

I'm here to help. This article outlines 10 different areas where you can implement marketing strategies on your own right now.  I also took it a step further and created an entire training to walk you through each of these strategies. This training is called "Marketing In Times Of Uncertainty," and includes a recorded webinar, complete guide, and 15 additional resources so you'll have success in every aspect of your marketing and sales.

You can access the training for free by clicking the button below, which will take you to the Built By Love Agency Hub. It's a centralized location for all kinds of free educational materials created by myself and my digital marketing agency.

Below are  10 marketing solutions to a variety of challenges possibly facing your business at this time. In this article, I will touch on each solution briefly (for a deeper dive, click the button above for the complete training).

  1. Extended Payment Terms

  2. Virtual Services

  3. Evaluations & Future Enhancements

  4. Communicate Value

  5. Virtual Classes

  6. Packaged Bundles & Payment Plans

  7. Scholarships

  8. Marketing Review

  9. Website Review

  10. Facebook Fund

1) Extended Payment Terms

An obvious challenge facing consumers right now is restricted cash flow. If customers aren't sure about their next paycheck or future financial stability, then their willingness to purchase is significantly impacted.

Depending on your industry and capabilities, offering extended payment terms can help ease anxiety and open doors to more consumers. 

Some ideas for extended payment terms include:

  • 90 days, same as cash: ​​​​
  • 6 payments (1 payment every 3 weeks)
  • 30-day payment hold
  • Ascending payment (15%, 35%, 50%)
  • Balloon payment (10% 4x, 60% final)

2) Virtual Services

Social distancing and the closure of many, if not all, brick-and-mortar businesses means that many of us cannot meet our clients in-person anymore. 

Marketing In Uncertain Times-virtual services

As thousands of businesses go remote for the first time, finding the best virtual tools and approach is mostly trial-and-error. Here are some suggestions of virtual services you can offer as well as the best pro-recommended tools to use to get the job done. I use these tools myself, 

Virtual Services To Offer:
  • Video conference calls
  • Screen share meetings
  • Synchronous work sessions
  • Remote trainings (see more about this one below)
  • Facetime/What’sApp video calls.
Pro-Recommended Virtual Tools:
  • Zoom.us - Video conferencing & screen-sharing.
  • Loom.com – Short one-way video & screen-share recordings.
  • Google Docs - Synchronous work sessions.
  • Google Jamboard - Remote trainings.
  • iPhone & Android - Facetime/What’sApp video calls.

These are just a handful of virtual tools that I recommend, taken from my comprehensive list of Tools the Pros Use for 2020, which you can see by clicking here.   

3) Evaluation & Future Projects

If you can't perform services for your clients right now, then a possible strategic solution is to develop evaluations for future enhancements for your customer base.

You can use evaluations to help identify your clients' current position and then present opportunities to enhance and strengthen it down the line. 

Marketing In Uncertain Times-plans for future enhancements
Recommended Evaluations:
  • Current services evaluation
  • Goals & milestones realignment
  • Strategic growth plan
  • Self improvement plan
  • Marketing roadmap
  • Workback timeline
  • Priority plan

For example...

If you're a sales consultant or personal coach, now is a perfect time to offer self-improvement plans for your base. 

If you're a business consultant or agency, you can create a marketing roadmap, such as an editorial calendar, or bigger brand overhaul that they can implement. 

If you're in event or project planning, or your client base works with massive deadlines, a workback timeline may be the perfect evaluation to offer your base. This basically takes a growth plan or an execution plan and looks at it in reverse order. 

4) Communicate Value

You should already be communicating value with your business messaging, but now it's more important than ever. 

When people are unsure of what's happening in their world or the world around them, what they want are assurances that everything is going to be okay. They're not going to take action unless they know it's something they can be confident in.

Marketing In Uncertain Times -communicate value

This is your opportunity to continuously communicate value to them. Be the rock of reason, value, and education they need during this time.

Ways To Communicate Value:
  • Re-evaluate your transactional email cadence and product focus. If you send out a newsletter or emails and pushing people to buy tings, then you need to reconsider what you're doing. Now is the time to be building and strengthening relationships and communicating assurances -- not hard selling. 
  • Communicate assurances for your customer’s safety regarding your
    products/services they consume. So, for example, if you sell food, or household products or beauty products, you should change your emails and marketing messaging to assure them that you're taking all the necessary safety precautions. If you're in some kind of services business, you need to make sure you're communicating that whatever you're doing is still looking out for their best interests 
  • Deliver meaningful value-first emails during this time. You want to focus on giving your customers something that's tangible and value-filled first. This could be something educational or entertaining that they can read or watch, but it needs to be valuable and cost nothing. After that, you can ask them to shop or call, but the focus first must be value. 
  • Develop and distribute useful information to your customer-base. This is a perfect time to share your expertise and remind your customer base why you're the expert in what you do, For example, if you're a landscaping company, you could send your potential customers a list of native shrubs and trees that they may have in their backyard and guide them on how to identify if they're healthy or not. 
  • Increase your communication cadence using the value-first approach. Now is not the time to go quiet. Communicate more if you can, and of course, this doesn't necessarily mean you try to sell more, Communicating value more often during this time will keep you top of mind for when they are ready to buy 

5) Virtual Classes

With remote customers, the challenge of delivering value becomes more acute -- that's where virtual classes, courses, or online trainings can come into play. 

Marketing In Uncertain Times - virtual conference
Virtual Class Concepts:
  • Online course to learn a specific subject.
  • Course delivered via email series.
  • Offer continuing education units.
  • Best practices course.
  • Online collaborative group learning.
  • Blog-based course.
  • Live video open forum Q&A sessions.

The biggest one that will take the most amount of time would be developing an actual online course, but all the other solutions are lower-tech options that can still be high-value. 

For example, a best practices course can be easily created for any industry. If you're an accountant or bookeeper, you can do it about the most current guidelines, or if you're a manufacturer or e-commerce business, you can give best practices for how to use your products, and so on. This can be as simple as a series of short, 3-minute videos that you email to your customers or a Facebook live video forum or even a blog-based course. 

6) Packaged Bundles & Payment Plans

Packaged Bundles and Payment Plans addresses the reluctance of consumers to buy when they're concerned about their cash flow.

By developing some simple, helpful bundled packages, with some easy financing options, you can reduce their risk, and increase their confidence, about spending money with you. 

Packaged Bundles & Future Payment Concepts:
  • Multi-phase progression package. For example, if you build websites, you can present the project and pricing in phases. As in, Phase 1: Content Development, Phase 2: Design, Phase 3: Development, and so on. 
  • Tiered pain point packages. Consider offering your customers customized packages based on their specific pain points. This creates options they might consider, instead of just one choice that say "no" to.
  • Value-based packages. This focuses on the value or benefit your product offers your customers. It's not necessarily about what they are getting, but rather how does it make their life better? Learn more about value-based pricing in this article here
  • Plan, then implement package. This is pretty self-explanatory; you create a clear plan with your customers to tackle a specific issue or fulfill a certain dream, and then schedule start date.   
  • Trial packages. Instead of requiring paid memberships or subscriptions, offer free or low-cost trial memberships with low barrier for entry.
  • No risk packages: Offer a satisfaction or money-back guarantee on the purchase. In a time of great risk, this can go a long way to ease the mind.

7) Scholarships

This one is pretty unique and won't work for all industries, but some form of it can work for most businesses. 

You can deliver "scholarships" to your customers to help offset costs and get people into your products and services. Depending on what you sell and your customer base, this can range in number of scholarships offered and dollar amount.  

And, the best part is, you don't have to hugely discount your pricing to offer scholarships. There are tactics you can use to avoid that, which I explain in the recorded webinar that's part of the complete "Marketing in Times of Uncertainty" free training available to you. Click the button below to get yours now (and start the video training at 41:00 to skip directly to this tactic on scholarships).

Scholarship options:
  • Free courses/service to get started.
  • Discounted pricing.
  • Special product offering where your company pays “x” percentage.

8) Marketing Review

This is an inward looking strategy. If your lead flow and conversion rates have dropped and sales are a bigger challenge than ever, now may be the perfect time to review your existing marketing strategies, offers, and marketing tech stack. 

Here Are Some Marketing Areas for Review:
  • Do you have your customer avatars (aka your "ideal customer" developed? ​
  • Do you have a mapped-out Customer Journey (Marketing R.A.M.P.)?
  • Do you have a Customer Ascension Plan?
  • Are you segmenting your prospects based on pain points?
  • What is the conversion rates of your current marketing assets?
  • What is your current MarTech stack? Is it working for your needs?
 Marketing In Uncertain Times  -tools the pros use
Marketing Resources To Help Assess Your Strategy:

9) Website Review

Now is a fantastic time to take a close look at your website and brand assets to assess whether you need a brand and messaging overhaul. More than ever, your online presence is going to be the first thing your customer experiences.

Marketing In Uncertain Times - website review
Website Areas For Review:
  • Does your Home Page deliver clarity for what you offer, who you serve and the success you can deliver your customers?
  • Is your website design and aesthetic in line with your pricing? If you're into luxury, your website and branding better look high end. If you offer sleek, innovative technology services, then you should have a user-friendly website.
  • How quickly can your customers get to what they are seeking? Do you include CTAs that give your audience a clear path to guide them to precisely the next step you want them to take? Make sure it's easy for them to sign up, contact you, shop, or do whatever it is you want them to do.

10) Facebook Fund

As of writing this article, Facebook was offering free ad dollars to affected small businesses. 

You can apply to get free advertising credits. If you already do online ads, this is a great opportunity to do ads for free. If you've never done ads before, this is a great time to learn how with minimized risk to you.

You WILL Survive

Remember, there is always great struggle before great triumph. Now is the time for you to take time for your business and plan, build, invest, and improve

But you must take action. You cannot simply stand on the sidelines and wait for things to change.
Marketing In Uncertain Times quote

Those who believe in their mission and continue to add value and stay the course will RISE ABOVE.

I'm here to help and provide support and guidance where needed. If you have any questions about what you just read or want advice about implementing this into your business, please  contact us today to schedule a short chat and we can talk through your issues and possible solutions.

And don't forget to pick up the complete "Marketing in Times of Uncertainty" training package for free. You'll get a video webinar, guide, and 15 additional resources so you'll have success in every aspect of your marketing and sales.

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Daniel Bussius

Daniel is the CEO for the award-winning full-service digital agency, Built By Love. He is also an award-winning Marketing Consultant that has been flown around the world to consult for and train CEO’s and marketing agency owners. He is one of the top Infusionsoft/Keap Certified Partners in the world. Daniel holds a number of acclaimed marketing certifications, including being the world’s only StoryBrand Certified Agency and Infusionsoft/Keap Certified Partner.

He is a member of the Infusionsoft/Keap Partner Advisory Group as well as a Digital Marketer Certified Partner, PandaDocs Gold Partner, Memberium Partner and PlusThis Certified Partner. Daniel’s agency, Built By Love, offers full-service digital marketing, strategy, creative, and execution.

You can learn more at:
Built By Love (full-service agency): www.builtbylove.com
Daniel Bussius Consulting (strategic consulting): www.danielbussius.com
In The Mix Agency (live events): www.itmpromos.com

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