The pandemic sucked in so many ways.
Nearly 600,000 Americans died. Millions of people lost their job (and health insurance) and an estimated 100,000 businesses permanently closed.
For the businesses that did survive, "normal" won't happen overnight. It's going to be a process.
As a business owner, here's how I'm approaching marketing, advertising and promotion as our economy reopens post-COVID ...
Acknowledge What Happened
Let's not put our head in the sand and pretend this never happened. We didn't just "pause" our lives for over a year.
The pandemic was a painful, disruptive, once-in-a-lifetime event.
There are lots of bottled up emotions — anxiety, depression, sadness, confusion, uncertainty, exhaustion, loss, even anger — and you can't just flip a switch and expect everything to be ok tomorrow.
I think that's called being in denial.
As Ed Yong from The Atlantic writes, "The pandemic’s mental wounds are still wide open."
People might put on a brave face, but many of us are still hurting and not quite ourselves.
Normal is going to take some time.
Accept That Post-COVID Inertia Is A Thing
Who would think Newton's first law (a body at rest tends to stay at rest) applies to the pandemic. But it absolutely does.
After being hunkered down in our COVID caves for over a year, many of us have become accustomed to staying home. So it's going to require some energy/effort to get our lives and businesses moving again.
Another factor contributing to COVID inertia is the mental state of languishing — that feeling when you're not necessarily depressed, but rather just feeling blah and unmotivated.
“Languishing is apathy, a sense of restlessness or feeling unsettled or an overall lack of interest in life or the things that typically bring you joy,” says Shemiah Derrick, a licensed professional counselor and certified alcohol and drug counselor.
Bottom line, if sales are slow, it might have nothing to do with your product/service, but rather that people are still in a funk from the pandemic.
Be patient. It's going to take some time.
10 Post-COVID Strategies To Boost (Or Jumpstart) Your Business Marketing
Here are 10 strategies I'm focusing on post-pandemic. Perhaps one or more of these will help you ...
Strategy # 1: Make Your Bed
If you're a business owner trying to get your marketing machine cranking again post-pandemic (but it feels like you're rolling a boulder uphill), here's a great strategy for busting through inertia/overwhelm from US Navy Admiral, William McRaven: Make your bed.
(If his name sounds familiar, Admiral McRaven was in charge of the Osama bin Laden raid. He also wrote the best-selling book, "Make Your Bed".)
Strategy # 2: Get Back To Basics
No matter how someone learns about your business, all roads lead back to your website. Your site is a critical moment of truth on the buyer's journey.
So make sure your site:
During the past few months I've re-done our site's homepage, our service offerings page and re-evaluated and retooled the lead generation process on our site.
Don't skip over your website in favor of the latest shiny marketing object because your website is where many prospects go first.
If you know your site needs an upgrade or redesign, but you've just been putting it off for one reason or another let's talk. Website design and development is our specialty.
Strategy # 3: (More) Follow Up
Most people (myself included) don't follow up enough.
But increasing follow up in your sales process usually results in a quick win.
And dollar for dollar, the # 1 follow-up tool with the best ROI is still good ol' email.
People might not check their social media every day, but everybody checks their email usually multiple times per day.
A great email marketing resource is Brian Dean's Email Marketing: The Definitive Guide.
Strategy # 4: Demonstrate (More) Empathy
Re-evaluate the messaging on your website, social media and other forms of marketing.
If it feels too robotic or machine-like, you might want to soften things up a bit and be more human.
Not only did we go through a pandemic, we also went through a recession and a major racial justice movement.
It's been a difficult time for many people. Let them know you feel their pain.
Strategy # 5: Create (More) Irresistible Offers
Your sales numbers are almost always proportional to the number of offers you make.
As with strategy # 3 above, more is better.
In addition to creating more offers, try and create better offers.
Get outside your comfort zone and come up with new offers that are hard to refuse.
Remember, we're dealing with pandemic inertia, so you might have to sweeten the deal more than you normally would for people to take action.
Strategy # 6: Use (More) Video
During the past 10 years, nothing has helped me close more deals than video.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then video is worth ... well, a lot more.
But the reality is I could be doing even more with video.
For example, I could create many more "explainer videos" throughout my site to create a bigger impact than just using words. I could create videos of some of my most successful blog post and promote them on YouTube. There are lots of opportunities to use more video to boost my brand and increase sales.
Video is one of the easiest ways to get a leg up on your competitors because amazingly, even today, so few sites use video.
Strategy # 7: Edit Your Google My Business (GMB) Page
You might not know it by name, but Google My Business is that section on the right side of the Google search results that displays information about your business.
Google My Business is a free business listing from Google that occupies a lot of real estate on the search results page for the name of your business. So it's a good thing to have, especially if you're a locally based business.
If you haven't yet claimed your free GMB listing, here's how to do that.
If you've already claimed and verified your GMB listing, here's how to make edits.
Strategy # 8: Invest (More) In Paid Ads
A recurring theme with these marketing strategies is do more.
Because of post-COVID inertia, we might need to increase our ad budget to get our message in front of sufficient numbers of people so we can hit the sales figures required to keep our business profitable.
The fastest way to get traffic to your website is to get out your credit card and buy it.
Strategy # 9: Shop Your Competitors
Why reinvent the wheel?
Spend a few hours looking at your competitors websites to see what they're doing.
What do their sites look like? What services are they promoting? What does their sales processes look like? What are their prices?
If you really want to take a deep dive into researching your competitors, use a tool like SEMrush.
If you want to see what ads your competitors are running on Facebook, use this handy tool.
Strategy #10: Offer (More) Online Services
Buying habits changed during the pandemic and many people decided they kind of like the virtual life.
If your product or service is normally delivered in-person, see what you can do to offer more online services.
For example, one of the ways my business is adapting to a post-pandemic environment is to offer online courses. Our research indicates that funds are tight for a lot of businesses and online courses are a lower price point than our done-for-you services.
In addition, many businesses are going through a digital transformation as a result of the pandemic and there's no way we could provide services to all these prospective clients. But if they're willing to do the work, our online courses will show them what to do.
A Post-Pandemic Business Boom?
Some business forecasters are predicting a post-pandemic business boom.
In some industries, yes, definitely, the demand is there.
For example, the airline industry appears to be doing well right now due to a pent-up demand for travel.
Now that people are re-entering society and engaging in social activities once again, it appears the health & beauty industry is also doing well.
Last week my wife went to a local watch & clock repair shop. It's taking 4 weeks to get our wall clock fixed because he's so busy right now — mainly because several of his competitors didn't survive the pandemic and he's getting all their business.
If your product or service is lucky enough to be in demand post-pandemic, that will certainly help combat post-COVID inertia.
However, I think for many (or most) businesses, the recovery will be a bit slower. So you're probably going to need to implement marketing strategies like the ones list above.
Will things ever return to pre-COVID normals?
Or is our way of life permanently altered?
One thing is for certain — for most of us, getting our lives and businesses back up to cruising altitude will take some time and effort.
As we all do our best to get back on track ... remember to be kind, be generous, be authentic and lead by example.
We're all in this together.