Difficult Decisions in Difficult Times

When should you change your messaging due to a crisis? When should you lower your ad spend or stop advertising entirely due to a drop in advertising effectiveness or overall revenue?

These are questions that many businesses and advertisers are facing right now. COVID-19 is impacting everyone in some way. How we conduct business, how we consume information, what we need, and what we buy are all evolving quickly.

It may be a short-term change, but there are likely to be some long-term impacts as well. If you fail to make an adjustment, you’re likely to fail.

Here are a few things to consider when it comes to these difficult questions. Once we get out of this crisis, you should be able to apply these same considerations to the next challenge.

Should You Change Your Messaging?

The first thing we should do as marketers right now is pause. That doesn’t mean it’s a long-term pause. Simply realize that the approach we were previously taking may no longer be appropriate.

Step back, and take a close look at all of your marketing efforts. Look at it from an unbiased perspective. Does this currently make sense? Will it upset people? Should it be changed?

For example, any messaging that assumes or requires people to leave the house may not be appropriate at this time.

Should You Change Your Product Offering?

Some businesses are changing their product offerings as a result of these new challenges. In some cases, stores or restaurants aren’t allowed to serve people, but they are still allowed to be open for pickup or delivery.

These are examples of altering your product offering. But what about a completely new product?

How people consume content is changing. The things that people need right now are different than what they needed just a few weeks ago. How can you serve them?

This crisis has impacted me. I put a pause on plans for my next training course. After giving it some time to think about it some more, I’ve decided to do a new course that’s more relevant in these times.

Many businesses are forced to go virtual, and they may not be comfortable in that space. As a result, my next course will be focused less on Facebook ads and more on live streaming and virtual teleconferencing with webinars and Facebook Live.

Should You Change Your Pricing?

There are so many factors to consider when changing your pricing. It’s something I have struggled with during this time.

Many businesses are being forced to cut costs. Workers are being laid off. Revenues, in many cases, are down.

Are you losing business? If so, bringing down prices may be on the table.

But, there’s another side to this. I recognize the struggle businesses are facing right now. I understand that marketing and education are likely low on the priority list when a business is losing money. What can I do to help them?

I’ve considered lowering prices for a short period of time, less as a way to bring in business and more as a way to be conscious of the struggles that marketers are facing right now. The next course I offer will be $49, a far cry from the $197 price tag for my prior course.

There is a psychological side to pricing, of course, that we can’t forget. I’ve thrown around the idea of a special community for entrepreneurs and business owners during this time. Recognizing budgets will be stretched, I considered a $1 per month trial or initial entry point. That price would go up later.

When I suggested this, I’ve received responses along the lines of, “People don’t respect a $1 product.” This may be true, particularly in normal times. But these aren’t normal times. Everything is on the table.

Should You Alter Your Ad Budget?

There are plenty of theories about the state of Facebook advertising right now. We can assume a few things…

  1. More people are online
  2. Some advertisers are spending less
  3. Some advertisers have stopped entirely

If all of these things are true, the result is more ad inventory. More people to reach and less competition. That should result in a lower cost to reach people (CPM). It may even result in a lower cost per click (CPC).

A recent study by SocialBakers suggests just that.

Here, we see a drop in CPM in North America…

This chart shows a steady drop in CPC among e-commerce brands…

And here we’re seeing a possible drop in ad spend in North America after an initial seasonal drop…

And this chart shows how more people are online now during typical business hours…

The question, though, is whether people are still buying. Their budgets are tightening, in most cases. Is your product essential?

Take a look at your advertising. What results are you seeing? Are you still getting a positive Return on Ad Spend?

It may be time to spend less right now, particularly if your ads simply aren’t as effective as they were before.

Should You Stop Advertising?

When I was laid off nine years ago, my budget was as tight as it gets. I didn’t have a business. I wasn’t making money. But, I was still spending $1 per day.

While that $1 per day likely stretched further in those days, I still encourage you to do something if you can — assuming you can get something out of it. Maybe it’s not a direct sale. Maybe it’s building your email list or driving traffic or engagement. You can leverage these things later.

But, it’s entirely possible that you’re really hurting right now. It’s possible that costs need to be cut and your ads simply aren’t helping you right now.

In that case, it may be necessary to step away for a while. Come back in a few weeks or months and reassess.

Your Turn

What challenges are you facing right now with your business and advertising? How are you addressing these issues?

Let me know in the comments below!