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Should I put my marketing campaigns on hold

In times of crisis, when you are unsure as to how much business will close and you can’t be certain that your existing clients will need, or be willing to pay for, your services the standard approach is almost always one of caution.

So, if that is what you are doing right now, then you have definitely sided with the majority.

Around the world many companies are holding on to their cash, so that they can remain in business for as long as possible. Putting staff on furlough, cancelling all capital investment and stopping external spend is the order of the day.

But are they right?

Well, conserving cash is definitely a good thing. If most companies are going to shelve their projects, then the likelihood of you selling to them is definitely reduced, meaning you will also have to adopt a more cautious approach to spending, so that you remain viable when their optimism returns.

However, what you need to give thought to is what your company will look like when you reach that point. If most of your sales and marketing staff are on furlough and you haven’t spent anything on engaging with your audience, you will have a lot of catching up to do, as your pipeline will be virtually zero. That means that the cash will need to last even longer, whilst you recover, placing more restrictions on what you can do to engage.

You may get through the pandemic, but will you then be able to compete?

You should also consider what you would have been doing if the pandemic hadn’t happened. No doubt you would have delivered a series of campaigns utilising events, email, social, tele and advertising with the aim of communicating your message to your target audience. But who is/was your target audience?

I doubt many of you only focus on the prospects that have already made a buying decision and just need to find the right provider. Don’t get me wrong, when we find them and close them it’s great, but in reality, what normally happens is that on the odd occasion you find them, they are already speaking to your competitors and it’s just a pricing exercise.

The people that we are actually trying to find are those that have a need, can define it to some extent, have the ability to drive the purchasing decision over the next 6-9 months but have yet to decide on what to do next and need some help. That’s right, the people that would have been buying from you next year!

Let’s think about that, the people you would have been trying to reach won’t be purchasing for 6-9 months anyway, so not only are you going to see a reduction in revenue now due to tightening of budgets, but you will have the same problem again in 6-9 months when there is large gap in your pipeline because you haven’t been engaging with the companies that are now ready to purchase.

If you think things will be ok because you can catch up, good luck – that’s what your competitors think too. Remember at the start I said that most companies are putting their efforts on hold? Everyone is waiting for the day when they are told everything is now back to normal so they can kick-start their campaigns. In the meantime, nobody is engaging with your target audience. An audience that has the same requirements, maybe more, the same concerns, maybe more, and the same need for assistance and guidance, again maybe more. It doesn’t make any sense not to engage with them now.

Remember, if nobody knows how long the current restrictions will last, then nobody knows how long the cash will need to last. That’s why it is vitally important that businesses continue their demand generation efforts and ensure that they continue to engage with and educate their audience. Not only may it bring in some much-needed short-term revenue, but it will protect the business in the long term.

So, should you put your marketing on hold? Definitely not, but there are some things to bear in mind when communicating with your audience at the moment, which I will go into in the next blog.

And if you are still unconvinced, I will also be taking a look in a further blog at the likely consequences for stopping your demand generation efforts, even just for a short period.

By Iain Borrowman

CEO, IRSMarketing

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