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Jane Lea Jane Lea Reading time: 9 minutes

Staying Afloat: Anti-Crisis Strategy for Your Marketing Agency

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Introduction

The COVID-19 crisis of 2020 has presented a particularly pressing reason for almost the entire business world to move online. Many businesses aren’t ready for such a drastic transformation. But, actually, we have no choice but to adapt to this new situation. Consequently, the online world is gaining a huge reinforcement now.

Marketing agencies all over the world are feeling the impact of this global issue, but unlike many other businesses, they are more or less used to working online. They may even find it somewhat positive. According to a survey published by Statista in mid-March, 73 percent of UK marketers believe that they are more efficient while working remotely. They serve clients from different industries, help them move their businesses online too, and promote there.

COVID-19: home office and work-life balance of marketers in 2020

Despite all of that, many experts believe that 50-70% of agencies will shrink (including many that will close altogether), 20-30% are expected to keep their revenue roughly as-is compared to 2019, and only 10% are likely to grow.

As an agency owner, you should be ready for all possible scenarios and do your best to keep your head above water during the downturn. You’re probably going to have to take two important steps to keep your business healthy: decide on a new plan for your agency and redefine the way you work with your clients.

Decide on a consistent plan for your agency

  • Make some calculations to predict your chances

First of all, you should start by evaluating your actual state of affairs. You need to conduct limited internal research and make some calculations that will help you determine your agency’s chances of surviving these challenging times.

We recommend calculating how many months your agency is capable of survivinging when spending money without earning any. You need to have at least 3 months of expenses to survive the economic recession. If you have 6+ months – that’s even more promising. If you have more than 12 months of expenses – you’re in really great shape.

There is a straightforward way to calculate your monthly expenses in cash, suggested by Karl Sakas.

1. Calculate annual expenses.
Likely, it is the “Total Expenses” figure in your Loss & Profit Statement.

2. Divide it by 12 and get a monthly average.
This figure doesn’t include seasonal payments, such as quarterly tax payments to the IRS, for instance.

3. Calculate your total cash.
This number commonly includes checking accounts, savings accounts, and certificates of deposit.

4. Divide total cash by the monthly average.
This is, actually, the answer you’ve been looking for—a month’s expenses in cash. As mentioned, if you have under 3 months of expenses, your business is at high risk of going under. More than 6 months of expenses in cash sounds much more promising for your agency, while 12+ months means that your company is about 99% sure to feel good even after the crisis.

5. Adjust this based on seasonality and business debt.
You will likely see an increase in expenses during December when you need to make your quarterly estimated tax payments. Usually entrepreneurs make distributions to cover taxes, although distributions aren’t considered as expenses. But what to do if you need this money each quarter? It would be best if you treated it as part of your minimum “expenses.”

  • Take care of your team

It’s a challenging time for each of us. You should keep in mind that the stability of your business depends mostly on the stability of your stakeholders, which includes your team, clients, and partners.

First, take care of your team. Let them see and feel that you are ready to lead them through all this. Update your team with all the company’s new plans and transformations and get them prepared to meet the challenges.

Maintaining team spirit even while working from home is essential. It will help your team stay productive and motivated to move forward. You can also organize daily stand-ups, weekly, bi-weekly, and monthly team meetings to make sure that all the processes are following the plan and all the teammates are aligned with the same goal.

Think of how to establish smooth team member-client communication and collaboration on projects while you’re working remotely. What management framework will you use? What collaboration tools will you apply? You can go beyond simple threads in chats and connect with each other and clients by conferring through Slack, Skype, Calendly, WhatsApp, Google Hangouts, and Zoom.

Redefine Your Work with Clients

The main problem agencies face during this crisis is the loss of clients. However, you may be able to stop this from happening by rethinking the way you work with them. If you help their businesses survive during the recession, you’ll raise your agency’s chances too, by default. Let’s consider here what you can put into practice.

  • Transform your service offerings

The global digital transformation has already had a noticeable impact on different parts of our lives. Entrepreneurs realize that moving their businesses online is their only option. But what if they haven’t yet built their entire digital presence? The problem is that they just don’t know how to do it as they are not marketing savvy. But you know how to do it. That’s how you can help them and prove your value as a professional digital marketing team.

At this phase, you need to communicate to your clients the growing need to market their businesses online. You should also emphasize the added value of digital marketing. Your main mission is to educate your clients about how to enter the online space with their products and create a unique offering for a tech-savvy audience who has recently become particularly active online.

The best way to do it is by holding free coaching sessions, workshops, and webinars.

On the one hand, this will show your clients new opportunities for business and development even under the conditions of a global recession. On the other hand, it will help you, as an agency, offer alternative solutions to your existing clients and even engage new prospects.

  • Help your clients go online with their products

Don’t wait. Reach out to your clients and suggest navigating the crisis together. Be proactive and consult with them on how digital marketing can help their businesses survive during the COVID-19 economic recession. Suggest a clear plan on how to market their products in these challenging times and get to work.

Help your clients optimize their unique offerings for online sales. The solutions may vary across different industries.

Food & Restaurants. For example, restaurants can create special delivery options for their customers. They can also grow their audience engagement and brand awareness by sharing recipes, tutorials, and live cooking shows on social networks and their website.

Healthcare. At the same time, medical organizations and private practitioners can give a boost to their activity by sharing videos and articles on how to protect yourself during the coronavirus pandemic or how to treat certain health issues at home.

Sport & Fitness. A great idea for gyms and personal coaches is to start streaming online fitness courses and sharing some tips on how to keep fit and healthy with their followers on social media. This will help them make revenue online and reinforce their business during the downturn.

Beauty. Beauty salons and cosmetics suppliers can secure their businesses by holding online workshops on how to care for your appearance and make yourself even more visually stunning. They can also share content that is slightly related to social distancing and the importance of hygiene since many people are currently concerned about this topic.

Retail. Retail shops can move entirely online. They can build amazing web stores and optimize them for mobile. Another option is marketing on already existing selling platforms like Amazon, eBay, and Etsy, or creating shops on Facebook or Instagram.

  • Do meaningful digital marketing for clients

When resources are tight, your clients need clear directions on where to invest. It’s your mission to explain which marketing steps are a must and which channels will work best for them.

First of all, the ways your clients have transformed their business due to the situation needs to be announced. Whether these are changes in open hours or launching delivery, their customers need to have this information at their fingertips, preferably on a website. Create a separate COVID Statement page for clients, making it clear and comprehensive.

The other place where customers look for this information are listings, such as Google My Business, Yelp, Apple Maps, Bing Local, etc. Keep in mind that some Google My Business features are temporarily unavailable. For example, no new reviews or review replies are being published.

For a more personal touch and transparency, your clients can invest in email marketing. Communicating the changes to customers directly is a nice gesture. Also, it’s a chance to showcase your creativity and prepare emails that will be remembered.

Social media marketing is definitely worth investing in. It’s the best channel for building relationships. Social media are pretty crowded nowadays, so it’s up to you to create content for your clients that will be noticed. Being authentic and relevant is what matters the most. You definitely shouldn’t act like nothing is going on, but posting all about washing hands and working from home is not an option either. Think out of the box, and come up with content ideas which reflect the very essence of your clients’ brand. This way, your creatives will be noticed and will help your clients claim their business online.

Also, it’s the best time for running ads. According to a recent survey conducted by Kantar, many people think that advertising helps them in daily life. They say that it keeps them informed of important events, discounts, webinars, and helps them stay in the know about what their favorite brands are doing.

All of this can drive even more customer engagement and strengthen your clients’ online business presence. Social media advertising may bring positive dynamics in business awareness and loyalty for your clients.

Now, while traffic is significantly higher, costs per click are lower. How is that possible? Well, some players are out of the game (like travel or real estate companies), so competition has decreased and made ads more affordable. Running targeted ads that contain relevant online offerings is a chance for local businesses to reach out to their potential customers and compensate for the loss of foot traffic with online traffic which converts into online sales.

 

While everyone is staying at home and moving online, you should take this downtime to build a strong brand presence on the web and engage new customers at the same time. This is the time for meaningful digital marketing which requires innovative thinking. So reveal your creativity.

 

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