Is it right to do digital marketing during lockdown to promote yourself and your business? Yes. If you do it sensitively and with empathy. What channels should you use? What approaches to digital marketing should you take?

The lockdown is a massive challenge for everyone

The lockdown is a massive challenge for everyone, especially freelancers, the self-employed, and SMEs/SMBs who might have had to furlough staff (not to mention those with children at home and teenagers back early from university). Some people will have had to change the way they work and adapt to working from home. I’ve been working from home for the last 5+ years, so that’s less of an issue. However, we’ve all had to adopt a new routine to a greater or lesser extent.

My heart goes out to you if you’ve lost business due to the lockdown, or had to close altogether. You have my sympathy and empathy. For those of you that are carrying on regardless – business as usual, albeit working from home – then more power to you.

Some businesses will have been siginificantly busier because of the lockdown

It’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good, as the saying goes. Some businesses will have been siginificantly busier because of the lockdown. I’m thinking of bike shops here, as people like me who haven’t ridden a bike for years decide to get some fresh air and exercise during our one hour’s allowed outdoor exercise time. Home gym and fitness equipment will have seen a massive upswing. IT and tech too in the first weeks of the enforced lockdown. Employees worked from home for the first time and rushed to buy laptops, monitors, external keyboards collaborative software and VPNs. Lots of people bought comfortable, more relaxed WFH clothing too. Suits and smart casual attire has been swapped for loungewear and athleisure hoodies and jogging bottoms.

How you can use marketing to your advantage, sensitively

I’d like to share some advice and tips with you for how you can use digital marketing during lockdown to your advantage. Sensitively, and with empathy. Together we can emerge stronger when some semblance of normality is restored. Or, whatever the new “normal” is, anyway.

Digital Marketing during a pandemic

As my friends and colleagues at the digital marketing agency Limelight have said, many businesses are faced with a stark choice at the moment:

During these crazy times we have noticed one of two dynamics…

  1. Stop everything, cut marketing budgets as not sure when this will end.

  2. We need to be prepared for when this does end so we’re in the strongest position both online and offline.

If you’ve had to stop altogether then, again, you have my sympathy. I hope to see you and work with you again in the near future.

However, if you’re carrying on with “business as usual”, or trying to establish yourself in a new marketplace or with a different business model, then you will still need marketing activities.

Don’t take your foot off the accelerator

Limelight go on to say:

Just now, many of your competitors are reducing their marketing budgets and have put any marketing plans on hold, which means you may be able to get ahead! Think of it like the hare taking a break while in the lead only to let the tortoise win the race with dedicated effort. Don’t take your foot off the accelerator unless you have to.

Of course, a lot of businesses are simply not able to invest due to lost revenue and if that’s the case then simply skip this tip. However, for everyone else, this is extremely important. If you are in a position to do so, now is the time to gain a competitive advantage in the months and years to come. You need to be thinking ahead rather than focusing on the now.

You can read more tips on the Limelight website.

Is it ethical to market yourself and your business right now?

Some people have even questioned the ethics of marketing your business during a pandemic, asking if it’s at all appropriate to focus on marketing during the current situation. Leaving the morals and ethics aside, what can you do to keep your business going and ensure that you’re ready to hit the ground running when lockdown is lifted?

Digital Marketing channels

You can use a number of different channels and techniques to market your business. Online is especially important and effective now. More so than ever. SEO, social media and Google search (organic search rankings, Google Ads PPC, Google MyBusiness and Local Search) are your main digital marketing tools.

What approach should I take?

Whatever channel you use, there’s agreement that you should approach communications and digital marketing during lockdown sensitively. You can do this in a number of ways. These are:

  • Show empathy – we’re all in this together. Showing the human side of your business is a good idea. Be kind. Always.
  • Solve problems or provide a service – offer advice and solutions to problems rather than concentrate on the “hard sell”.
  • Offer businesses a lifeline – go above and beyond. Service your existing clients. Make them feel valued and show appreciation that they’ve stuck with you. Perhaps even offer your services at a discount or for free if you can afford to do so.
  • Spread the love – show appreciation for other businesses and individuals who are doing great work. This especially applies to sole traders, freelancers and the self-employed, and SMEs/SMBs who may benefit most from a shout out and a positive review. Give something back. Pay things forwards.
  • Brand awareness – one day this will all be over. Make sure that you’re in the forefront of people’s minds when things get back to something like normal. Again, ditch the hard sell though.
  • Reinforce expertise and thought leadership – use LinkedIn and the other social media channels to communicate with people. Like, Comment and Share other people’s Posts and Tweets. Post relevant industry and sector news. Share good news stories. See “Spread the love”. Social media is the ideal place to do this. If you haven’t got the time to do it yourself then get a freelancer to do it for you.
  • Network – face-to-face networking in real life isn’t possible at the moment, of course. However, many networking groups are taking to Zoom for virtual meetings. Keep in touch with your existing networking contacts, and check in with them. You might even make some new ones. I’ve had my first ever Zoom networking group meeting this week. I made new connections and even gained new business. It works, even if you’re not sure that it’s for you.

Those are just some ways you can market yourself and your business without being crass or overly commercial. I hope that it helps you and your business take advantage of digital marketing during lockdown. Stay safe, stay well and stay home. See you on the other side.

Published by GilesMDigital2015

Self-Employed Freelance Digital Marketing Executive, PPC-focussed.