Like 98% of businesses out there, our leads (and sales) took a dive in late March when coronavirus led to near-nationwide shutdowns that lasted roughly 4 weeks.
But, unlike the 2008/2009 recession, this time:
We were prepared — though we freaked out a little, I won’t lie!
And if you can believe it, our leads and sales have already rebounded. Look at these graphs:
Please know: I’m not saying this to brag.
I want to be transparent and explain exactly what we did to get our leads back up into a normal, pre-pandemic range…
I’ve been writing about how to safeguard your business during an economic downturn because years ago, I learned the HARD way what not to do when ish hits the fan.
When the housing bubble burst in late 2007, PostcardMania was slow to feel the effects. It wasn’t until late 2008 and into 2009 that we lost 46% of our client base (mortgage professionals and real estate agents) virtually overnight.
That hurt, we were about even with ’07 in ’08 and 15% down in 2009 – about $5 million. It was the first year EVER that PostcardMania revenues were down.
I almost lost PostcardMania.
I share the gory recession details here about how defensive-minded, seemingly sensible cuts to my marketing budget in 2009 turned into a HUGE MISTAKE.
So, long story short:
It wasn’t the housing bubble/recession that really hit my business.
It was my own stupid mistake to listen to advisors and cut my marketing despite my own instincts.
As states and businesses started closing in March due to coronavirus, I started getting a sharp sense of déjà vu.
Tell me if this happened to your business too:
Watching our leads go from a steady stream to a pathetic trickle…
Scarily watching sales plummet…
And frankly, wondering how we were going to make payroll.
I definitely had a sickening feeling in my stomach telling me to panic. Did you feel that way??
I remembered 2008. I remembered the HELL that was 2009, and how long it took us to recover fully.
So, I was firm:
We would NOT cut our marketing. No way… not after what we went through last decade.
This time, I wouldn’t be swayed.
We continued to market like usual, literally not cutting 1 penny.
Of course, we did make some adjustments to our marketing.
We tweaked our designs, promoted new “We’re Back Open” postcards, and also kept up with our Small Business COVID-19 Guide with almost-daily updates full of ideas to save businesses, including financial assistance and other marketing tactics.
We just kept marketing aka communicating, knowing that as atrocious as the economic effects have been from this pandemic, things would eventually change…
This downturn couldn’t last forever.
Here are the graphs:
Truthfully, our leads and sales did go down when March arrived. (There are a lot of businesses that were also deemed essential that still saw declines while others thrived – like Amazon and my own HVAC guy – he’s busier than ever here in Clearwater.)
But you’ll see they swept back up fairly quickly, back into normal range again.
And the only reason why is we continued to market at our usual levels (if not slightly more).
I made this short video for you about PostcardMania’s experience during COVID-19 and what you can do to ensure your bounces back as quickly as possible:
Even during an economic slump (no matter how unprecedented) —
Don’t cut your marketing. I also have to mention – that I didn’t pay any bills except payroll and marketing. I do have reserves but told my controller that I’d rather be in debt than empty the coffers.
I know this can all sound very self-serving since I own a marketing company, but I discovered that Harvard researchers found the same to be true when they studied 4,700 companies across 3 different recessions.
I wanted to share all of this with you, because, sadly, our quick recovery may not be the norm for businesses.
And I 100% believe that our quick bounce back is down to one thing:
We continued to tell prospects we’re here, and they’ve in turn reached back to us. I understand that if you have a restaurant or a day spa, this is more difficult to think with, but even a few of those have been super creative here in Clearwater and it takes pivoting along with marketing to really make it.
Here are a couple of examples of creative pivots I’ve seen:
One of my favorite local restaurants in the Tampa Bay area, Mise En Place, is not only doing a lot more delivery and pickup business lately, but they’ve come up with the idea to host group wine tastings every Friday on Zoom. The wines are pre-selected by their former wine director and shipped to arrive on Friday in time for an evening happy hour and Zoom gathering led by the sommelier. Participants can also meet and mingle with Mise en Place’s owner and chef, along with other local wine-lovers looking to socialize after weeks of being stuck at home. Tickets are $69 and include the wines and appetizers for two.
At a spa nearby, Botanica Day Spa, they’ve shifted heavily to gift cards and focused on selling products in their front lobby rather than person-to-person spa services.
Personally, I had to pivot when I lost 46% of my customer base – remember when every other person was a mortgage broker?? Well, they went back to doing bathroom remodels or driving a cab after 2008. We analyzed our entire leads and customer database to determine where the heck all the other industries came from and how much they spent with us and how much we spent to attain them. TRACKING was put into hyperdrive and we went after a whole plethora of new industries we’d been ignoring. This was our pivot and we had to move FAST.
So, my main takeaway for you is simple:
Whether your business is considered “essential” or not, whether you’re fully 100% back or not — continue marketing to your prospects and customers alike where you can afford. Borrow if you have to – this is your future.
Stay in touch with your list via frequent email updates.
Post a new status on your social media feeds daily with new updates and progress towards your reopening.
And then repeat. Keep at it!
Repetition is the key to response and results in marketing.
It looks like these quarantines will only continue to lift as time passes, and you want your prospects (who badly need your services after going weeks without) to remember and choose YOU over your competition (if they are still open themselves).
We are here to help you however we can.
If you need any help resurging your business, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at 800-628-1804. Our marketing consultants are trained to advise you on how to get your business back on the rails during this difficult time.
Or, you can always email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
P.S. Need a way to tell your prospects and customers you’re open again? Check out our “We’re Back Open” postcards — we can customize them to your industry!