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COVID-19: Should I reduce my marketing budget due to coronavirus? – Here is what SMEs need to know!

As new events unfold in this current economic turmoil and hospitality industry on its knees kowtowing to pressure, millions of businesses forced to operate remotely, and the economy in decline, coronavirus has a lot to answer for.

One paramount issue among the several for the business community is mounting fear. It is overly obvious that entrepreneurs or business owners have deep concerns as to how the virus will impact the health of valued employees or fear as to whether Ghanaian businesses will be able to survive these unprecedented times.

As a result, many businesses have started to cut costs, pause spend and retreat from day to day operations. As many too on the other hand are laying off workers just to bridge the debt gap.

For the majority, the first budget to be cut when facing times of adversity is marketing, and for the many business owners frantic with worry about coronavirus, this will come as no surprise.

Lowering marketing spend at these vital and crucial moment when staying connected and interacting with customers is the single most important thing -will be a knee-jerk reaction for the business

However – except for businesses physically unable to operate right now – cutting marketing spend at a time when you need to reach and engage with more members of your target audience than ever before makes zero sense.

With that in mind, here’s five reasons why cutting and reducing your marketing budget is not an option in response to the coronavirus outbreak:

#1 – You always need sales and marketing

Sales and marketing don’t just drive business growth, they drive business stability. No marketing spend means no resulting sales, forcing your business to inevitably grind to a halt.

The next market opening will undoubtedly be a challenging one for businesses in Ghana, but holding back will only hurt your business in the long term, where you’ll leave your remote working environment with a diminished brand presence and very little, if anything, in the pipeline.

Keep pushing for “business as usual” on all fronts, including sales and marketing. Although it may feel like it is not working immediately, it will eventually, and you’ll come out stronger as a result.

#2 – Your competitors will pull back due to fear

So many of your industry competitors will be withdrawing their marketing spend due to fear, providing you with the opportunity to scale and maximise market share as we come out the other side, whether in three, six or 12 months’ time so far as you got enough money to spend. This is an economical spend for the business and will definitely not go to waste.

If you’re looking to dominate, hold firm on your marketing budget right now, or even better, look at opportunities to increase your budget in areas where you’re looking to grow or where you’ve previously seen the best results.

We don’t know what is going to happen in the coming months, but we do know that the coronavirus outbreak is significantly impacting the economy, meaning the larger players within your industry sector will be impacted too.

#3 – More people are spending time online

More and more people are searching for news updates, engaging with social media content and maximising tools like LinkedIn than ever before. This means that if there has ever been a good time to have a strong digital presence, it’s now.

Before you commit to spend, it’s important to ensure you understand what channels your target audiences are currently engaging with and maximise marketing budget in these core areas. Without an effective strategy, you will struggle to generate an effective return, which is crucial at this time.

It is also important to note, that any marketing strategies which incorporate messaging around the coronavirus need to be executed with caution. If you get this wrong and look as though you are trying to profit from the pandemic, you will get a negative response from target audiences and it will be incredibly damaging for your reputation as a brand both in the short and long-term.

#4 – Don’t cut your spend, change your focus

So many businesses will pause or cut marketing spend, without thinking about how they can change their focus first.

Your current marketing strategy may not generate the same result now, but instead of panicking, think about what you can do differently.

This is where many business owners go wrong when assessing the value of marketing, whether amidst a pandemic or not. When their first attempt at marketing activity doesn’t work, they immediately believe that marketing as a whole doesn’t work, instead of trying something new or different. For example, where some businesses can generate a quick and effective return from social media advertising, it won’t work for others at the same rate. This doesn’t mean social media ads aren’t an effective lead generation tool, it just means the strategy isn’t right yet.

With that in mind, think about how you can innovate and maximise your budget to create a new marketing strategy which will help to maintain growth during these challenging next few months. Ultimately, those able to disrupt are those more likely to gain market share.

#5 – It’s time to sink or swim

The coronavirus has certainly presented what is likely to be the biggest challenge of this generation, but if you let the fear of the unknown take over, you will inevitably fail.

During the recession of 2008-09, the business sector divided into two. Those who retreated and failed and those who fought back and survived. Times of adversity provide the opportunity to disrupt, to dominate and to transform your industry sector.

Remember, this coronavirus period of uncertainty will not last forever. It is those who remain agile, continue to push hard and maintain their marketing budget who are far more likely to swim.

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