It’s no secret, businesses are worried about the economic impacts of social distancing and “stay-at-home” mandates.

Borrell Associates, a research and consulting firm, periodically conducts a survey (the Borrell Business Barometer, or BBB) of small businesses, gauging companies’ outlooks on the economy and other market factors.

You can guess the tone of March’s survey.

In March’s edition of the BBB, 180 companies were asked the following question: “How would you characterize the current economic situation in the U.S. for sustaining a small business?”

The vast majority believed small businesses are in rough waters, as 73% of respondents said that the current situation is poor. Possible responses were Excellent, Good, Fair, Poor, and Don’t Know. 

A few more highlights from the survey:

  • 85% of respondents said the pandemic is negatively impacting their business.
  • 52% of respondents expect to lower their marketing spend over the next six months.
  • 44% expect to either maintain or increase their marketing spend.
  • 28% of respondents cited the need for creative ideas and solutions to help their current marketing situation.

While companies tighten their belts, they must not neglect to advertise. As an old marketing adage states, “When times are good you should advertise, when times are bad you MUST advertise.”

In case that point didn’t get across, now is the time to advertise – not retreat. To maintain (and maybe grow) your marketing presence, here are three tips for small businesses.

Reallocate your budget

No one could have predicted widespread stay-at-home mandates. No one could have predicted that we’d be canceling annual meetings, networking events, tradeshows, conventions, seminars, etc. months in advance.

But, there’s a glass-half-full viewpoint here. The costs associated with these types of events (or anything else that can no longer take place in the current environment) can be allocated to other areas of your business – including marketing.

Traditional marketing (like direct mail) and digital marketing (like social media) should be emphasized.

Ramp up your social media presence

Speaking of social media, it’s a good time to target customers via platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

We can’t socialize in public, so the alternative is connecting online. According to the New York Times, Facebook’s website has experienced a 27% spike in usage since early January, while YouTube’s website is up 15.3%.

The idea is to be where your customers are. So, rather than trying to leverage every platform, focus on the main platform that your customers use.

Find creative alternatives

The pandemic has wedged a metaphorical boulder between businesses and their customers. To circumvent this bolder, businesses need to discover and implement creative alternatives.

Here are a couple of examples.

To help keep Richmond businesses afloat, Familiar Creatures created a website (Keep Calm and Nom Nom) with a directory of Richmond-based restaurants and breweries that could use support.

To help senior citizens, Decicco & Sons – a small New York grocery chain- has extended store hours, establishing the first 30 minutes of every day for customers above the age of 65 and immunocompromised families.

Times are tough, but marketing needs to be treated as an integral cog – not an accessory.

What do you think? How is your company responding to the current environment?



Interested in talking with a Sepire team member about how to implement new marketing strategies during the pandemic? Contact us today!