Advertising Your Way Out of the Apocalypse: How To Survive & Thrive During COVID-19

Advertising Your Way Out of the Apocalypse: How to Survive & Thrive During COVID-19

Harry Truman once said, “The only thing new in the world is the history you don’t know.”

While the COVID-19 crisis we’re all experiencing is certainly unprecedented, we’ve experienced a crisis before. In fact, we’ve encountered several throughout history, and there are lessons to be learned from each. Here are a few notable events:

  • The Depression of 1873-1879
  • The Panic of 1893
  • The Great Depression, September 4, 1929
  • Black Monday, October 19, 1987
  • Dot-Com Bubble, March 10, 2000
  • Financial Crisis of 2007-2008

Opportunities are present in every economy — good or bad — if you know where to look!

In the late nineteen-twenties, two companies vied for dominance in the boxed cereal market — Kellogg and Post. Cereal had been around for decades, but until then, Americans were more interested in oatmeal and cream of wheat.

Enter The Great Depression, which began in 1929.

At the time, Kellogg and Post commanded a similar market share but opted for two completely different advertising strategies. Post decided to follow the status quo and taper back all advertising expenses. This was a predictable measure, considering others within the industry were taking the same conservative approach. On the other hand, Kellogg doubled its advertising budget and moved aggressively toward promoting their new cereal —  Rice Krispies. They also increased budgets for R&D (new cereals) and evaluated the market for potential acquisitions.

By 1933, in a span of four short years, Kellogg had become the dominant player and a household name. Oh, and their profits, yeah, they’d risen by over thirty percent!

While Post sat back and waited for the storm to pass, Kellogg used their time wisely to leapfrog the competition and grab the largest market share. The opportunities outlined below are similar to that of The Great Depression. The only question is this —  will you be Kellogg, or will you be Post?

Traditional Advertising is Officially Dead. R.I.P.

If digital advertising was the coffin, then COVID-19 was the nail. How effective do you think billboards are with fewer cars on the road? Yes, that was rhetorical. How about those radio ads now that people are driving less? They’re ineffective, expensive, and will do nothing to help your business flourish.

Traditional advertising has declined for the better part of the last decade. If our new quarantine lives have taught us anything, it’s that we can do without traditional ads. We’re now more reliant than ever on digital platforms for up-to-date information. The days of waiting for an article to print are long gone. We need to connect instantly, and we need our information now.

NOW is the time to take whatever budget you’d allocated for traditional advertising and shift it toward a new digital initiative.

Social Media Usage is Up 70%. #CaptiveAudience

Today, more than ever, people are glued to their devices. Social media usage — Facebook, in particular — is up by 70%! Despite this staggering number, it’s estimated that most businesses have either tapered back or paused social advertising budgets. Does this sound familiar? I bet you already know where I’m going with this. We have an excess surplus of advertising inventory and a decrease in demand.

According to an article published in The Verge, despite the increased usage, Facebook is just trying to keep the lights on. A majority of their revenue comes from advertisers, and they are hurting.

It is important to note that a majority of users are looking for Covid-related updates, to check in with family and friends, or just flat-out bored to tears and looking for something to entertain them. We’re online sharing our latest baking conquest, the most recently completed honey-do project, or to establish ourselves as either Facebook M.D.s or political strategists.

Ultimately, It’s a numbers game. Crowds of people are gathering on social media, and your business needs to be front and center. Let them know who you are, what you have to offer them, and why you’re unique. Make it memorable! Just remember, messaging is critical. This is, after all, a crisis.

Your Competitors Are Not Advertising. Now Is Your Chance!

Ok, so now the fun part. You’ll want to pay attention here. Your competitors are NOT advertising! If you’ve been online in any capacity lately, you’ve probably noticed fewer ads, and even fewer from places like restaurants, bars, and gyms. Non-essential businesses were most likely the first to pause ad budgets due to closures and restrictions on services, but even essential businesses decreased budgets. This presents a unique opportunity for businesses like yours.

If Kellogg hadn’t doubled down, where would they be today?

Your instincts will tell you to focus on generating more leads. And, while this is certainly important, special attention should be paid to branding-specific campaigns. Usually, you’re fighting others for your potential prospects’ undivided attention. Since your competitors have opted to sit on the sidelines, you have free reign to create as many of your brand impressions as possible. The goal is to make your brand top-of-mind. When customers think of your product or service offering, you want them to think of you— not your competitor!

It’s time to get the message out. Let them know you’re open, ready for business, and adhering to best practice safety protocols. Don’t wait.

ON SALE NOW! – Up to 65% Off Online Advertising

As previously mentioned, advertisers like Google and Facebook are sitting on a ton of ad inventory that’s going unused. This does nothing to help their bottom line. They need to sell ads to survive.

Historically speaking, competition helps to drive up the cost of ads. But what happens when everyone stops advertising?

At Allegrow, our marketing data analysts began to notice something at the beginning of March. Suddenly, the cost of ads decreased —  across all industries and on all platforms; Google, Bing, Facebook, Instagram, and more. We’re not talking about a slight decrease. In some instances, advertising costs were reduced by as much as 65.6%! Then in April, others began to notice. SEM Rush reported an over 50% decrease in the cost-per-click across the board.

For every $1 you spend, you get $2 or more of advertising! If you’ve ever wanted to 2x your advertising, now is the time!

Take Advantage of Free Online Advertising Credits

What’s better than a half-off sale on advertising? How about free money?!

In response to COVID-19, both Google and Facebook have launched Small Business Grant programs and your business may be eligible.

Google is addressing this challenge by offering $340 million in free advertising credits to small businesses. There are, of course, stipulations. For instance, you’re not just going to be able to spin up a new ad account and demand free credits. I’d advise you to reach out to your existing advertising partner, or connect with us here at Allegrow, and we’d be happy to evaluate your eligibility.

Facebook has set aside $100 million, and — unlike Google — the funds can not only be used for advertising, but they can also be used for other operational expenses. For example, your rent. They’ll be selecting up to 30,000 small businesses and yours could be one of them.

And just to add that sweet little cherry on top, here at Allegrow, we’ve partnered with Google to offer you $150 in free advertising with every new account you set up. No strings attached.

Now is the Time to Advertise!

H. Jackson Brown, Jr. said it best: “Nothing is more expensive than a missed opportunity.”

Remember that small company, Kellogg, I mentioned earlier who found a way to rise to greatness during The Great Depression? In 2018, it generated $13.5 billion in revenue. That’s billion with a “B”. History has a way of repeating itself. You just have to decide if you will be Post or Kellogg.

You now have the opportunity to shift funds away from traditional advertising to make them more effective, take advantage of a growing captive audience on social media, brand yourself so well your competitors become irrelevant, buy ads at an extremely discounted rate to 2x your impact, and apply for free advertising credits.

What are you waiting for?