Marketing In Challenging Times

Outlaw’s Experts Share Some Advice on how to tackle uncertain times.

“What can you do now, that your customers will remember forever?”

Lee Fitzpatrick, Managing Director, Outlaw Social

We are all facing tremendous upheaval in how we work and the landscape is changing so quickly that it can be quite overwhelming. To try and support our community, freelancers and clients as much as we can, some of the Outlaw team and partners have shared some insights into how business owners and freelancers can approach challenging times with some innovation and creativity.

Lee Fitzpatrick, Managing Director

Lee Fitzpatrick Image

Having worked on distress marketing campaigns previously for clients, we know that in times of sensitivity it is important to build trust, value and transparency with your customers. The best thing to do is try to slow down. You can do this by blocking some time into your schedule to look at the challenges you are facing through a creative lens. Think about your tone of voice, what role you play in your customers lives and how you can potentially side step or innovate to support your customers in the short term.

“What can you do now that your customers will remember forever?”

Another thing to think about is that depending on the type of business you run, the traffic coming to your website is going to fluctuate over the coming months, meaning that there has never been a more important time to consider looking at your conversion rates on your website. This is something we call CRO (conversion rate optimisation) and with traffic being unstable it is the perfect time to ensure that your website is optimised to convert people that land on your site into leads or sales and minimise the amount of customers that you lose through poor design or user experience. I believe that this could truly save businesses over the coming months, particularly if your products are of high value or you have an e-commerce business.

The starting point for this is to ensure that you have tools such as Google Analytics, and Google Search Console set up on your website so that you can analyse the behaviour of traffic on your site. This is usually combined with a deep piece of keyword, competitor and content research and an audit of your full website to identify opportunities to tighten up your customer experience and sales funnel. At Outlaw we carry out SEO AND CRO website audits every week and we can help you get the process started if it can help you positively in this tough time.

Lee-ann Masterson, Facebook Ads Expert

If you are currently using paid Facebook or Instagram ads it may be tempting to switch these off and assume ‘now is NOT the time’ to reach out to prospects. This is not the case, in fact now IS the time.

Here are some reasons why:

1. Less competition – already we are seeing a massive drop in CPMS (the cost per 1000 people reached) which tells us that many brands have decided to cut back.This is an excellent time for you to get your brand out there at a fraction of the cost.

2. Pipeline – even if you are in an industry that has been heavily affected by the new restrictions put in place, these restrictions won’t last forever and by building a pool of prospects ready to market to when things settle again you are already ahead of your competition. Even if you are collecting email addresses for now, you are building a list of people that are already aware of your brand and are therefore easier to sell to in future.

3. You can still sell – a lot of our clients are continuing to sell their products or services however tone of voice and language as most definitely changed in ad copy. Less of the hard sell more ‘We would like to support our customers as much as possible through this difficult time by offering….’ this could be a discount, free gift etc. This of course should be tailored to your product/service and make sense. Even if your product/service can’t be used right now, now is the opportunity to introduce gift vouchers, payment plans, buy now pay later options.

Danny Harrison, Graphic and Web Designer

As a graphic and web designer working mainly within the hospitality industry, the current situation has thrown up some very interesting and positive challenges. The biggest challenge is being reactive to clients rapidly changing business models. I have had some interesting insights from the larger clients who have been talking to their insurers who seem to be implying those that are deemed to be taking social responsibility seriously in taking measures to protect their staff and communities will be in the best position to make claims if needed. With that in mind if businesses are taking steps to either close or adapt and that means many new graphic design / branding assets to communicate their new strategy to their customers and in most cases very urgently. (So a chaotic time for me)

This means we have to be quick on the draw and get these urgent jobs to the top of our work list and also to make sure the tone of voice and visuals we use are both informative, trustworthy and most of all clear whilst meeting the clients core brand values. In graphic design terms this creates the opportunity to try and be creative and informative without being dull, overly authoritative or oppressive. Humour, if it is decided that is the correct approach must be applied very carefully with such sensitive issues.

The main thing, as in normal times, is to listen to the client’s needs and if you feel they haven’t gone far enough or they are missing something then it is our job to point this out to them where appropriate, although far be it for us mere designers to tell people how to run their business. The role of the graphic designer is communication and in most cases that is basically problem solving and in this current climate there is great need for our particular set of skills.

Rachael Bews, Content Marketing and SEO Expert

If your business physically can’t convert just now (i.e. you are a face to face business that is facing closure / lack of footfall) you could look to adjust expenditure of budget on ads of they are unlikely/unable to convert.

Instead, this is a good time to focus on SEO. It is has a slow-growing impact over time and hopefully when the crisis subsides is when you will reap the rewards. This is a great time for housekeeping on your website and SEO is a foundational part of that.

Revise your messaging to ensure it is appropriate on all channels. This will look different for all brands, however if you can use your industry expertise to support the greater good, all the better.

Jack McCourt, Web Developer

Covid-19 has impacted most businesses quite significantly, resulting in staff working from home for months at a time and a reduction in business overall.

Things will bounce back though and this won’t go on forever.

With us all being stuck indoors, more people will be online now than ever before, so now is a better time than ever to work on your core brand and your online presence looking at your website with a fresh set of eyes and perhaps having the time to make important changes that you haven’t had the time to complete. Not only to keep things ticking over now, but in preparation for the recovery once we all get through this together and things bounce back to normal.

Mark Maycock, SEO, Link Building and PPC Manager

The cancellation or suspension of an SEO campaign in the midst of this crisis is not advised if it can be avoided.

MOZ are one of our industry leaders. We rely on them for DA stats for all of our website reviews. They are one of the biggest names and most respected authorities in our industry. Basically, the image above shared with us from MOZ shows the importance in link growth. Clearly, ending link building suddenly will have the reverse effect from Google and rankings/importance/authority of a website could decline rapidly. Once the situation gets back to normal and clients start again, it will be from a considerably worse position than if they continued as normal.

We recommend that we “Keep Calm and Carry On”

If the business allows you to do this, the rewards will be higher than normal.  Online businesses do not have to deal face to face with clients so there is zero risk of contamination. We can carry out Skype/Phone calls and send emails as normal. Industry advice is that a lot of companies are actually ramping things up to take advantage over companies that are cancelling prematurely. In doing this we expect to see greater results in ranking improvements and all the benefits that come from increased traffic and authority.

Keep pushing – you don’t want to lose any of the gains you have made over the past few months or years. All that money spent will be potentially be negated by ending prematurely. The drop in rankings and trust etc will be detrimental to your campaigns and will offer your competitors a significant opportunity to overtake and dominate the top tier positions.

This is all a temporary problem. The governments are working to get things levelled out as soon as possible. We need to be sure not to lose focus of the bigger picture or offer our competitors any easy advantages and continue our campaigns with the determination that we started them with.

Closing Notes And Support

We spend most of my time helping clients solve complex marketing challenges, so in unsettling times we have cleared time in our teams diaries for the next few months, to give our clients the opportunity to discuss (in complete confidence) any concerns that they have about business continuity, marketing, sales or general strategy so that our team can provide a fresh set of ears to help them forward plan in the best possible way

We wanted to extend this to our network in the hope we can help businesses think a little more strategically about the challenges they may face in the coming months

If you think you could benefit from a chat you can book a slot using Calendly:

We believe there is always an opportunity to look at challenges through a creative and innovative lens. This ethos comes from one of the core values that we share as a company:

“We zig while others zag. We are bold & creative. We challenge the status quo wherever we can and strive to provide enterprising solutions that can truly help our clients, stakeholders & humanity.”