Marketing during an economic downturn

You have to market your firm and services even in boom times. When the economy hits rocky water, you have to market even harder. But, what messages, and using what medium?

This economic downturn is helping answer those questions. The money worries of clients and prospects seem clear, and familiar personal technology means you can reach more people, more frequently, and faster for less cost.

Your expertise is needed now

Money is on everyone’s mind now. According to a recent Urban Institute survey, two out of five adults reported that their families have lost jobs, work hours, or work-related income. Almost a third said their families have cut spending on food, almost half have put off major purchases, and more than a quarter have dipped into savings or increased credit card debt.

Your financial knowledge might be especially effective now. Consider messages that ask clients and prospects these questions:

  • Should you dip into your retirement accounts?
  • Is investing still a good idea?
  • Should you still carry all your insurance policies? Should you refinance loans?
  • What’s the best use of your stimulus money, if you can spare it from necessities?

Recent federal and state changes produced big – and, to the public, sometimes confusing – developments in taxes. At this moment, you have a chance to market your expertise to a receptive audience. Consider these hot topics:

  • Do you qualify for a stimulus check? How big will it be? When can you expect to get it?
  • What’s the best way to use the extra time to file your taxes?
  • What are your best tax moves if you’ve lost your job? What are your new tax obligations – and advantages?
  • What are your best tax-planning moves for the rest of this unusual year?

(There will likely be more federal stimulus packages until the economy recovers. You’ll be able to use aspects of those for touchpoints with clients and prospects, too.)

Many of the above questions, of course, defy quick or short answers. Give the responses thought, but remember that your purpose is not to provide complete tax and financial advice; it’s to address even partially what’s on the mind of your target audience, and make them think of you as a financial and tax expert they can turn to for fuller explanations.

Using the best tools

Some started careers in the age of postcard and other paper marketing. These tools still have their place, but when it comes to speed, cost savings, and repetition of message, modern personal technology is one of your best avenues.

Social media can be an excellent place to start your marketing, though pinpoint targeting of your message might be hard (social media offers other advantages, though, such as boosting your practice’s results on major search engines). The most popular content formats on social media are videos, how-tos, lists, info posts on a specific topic (which tend to be the least shared), and explanations of conclusions (perhaps, about a recent tax topic). Studies have shown that the last two types of posts tend to get the most shares.

There are software solutions to help manage your social media presence and content, just as there is management software for email and texting campaigns, too.

Marketing through e-mail is flexible and easy to measure with the right tracking. You can drive traffic to your site and keep frequent contact with both clients and prospects. Format is one consideration: Should you use an e-newsletter, short and frequent news items or teasers, or some combination of the two? Commercially available email marketing software run the gamut – from simple to complex (and expensive) – and can also incorporate such features as customer relationship management.

The other obvious marketing method involving personal technology is texting. This has evolved to be even more effective per cost than email. It’s not as intuitive, however, and requires a couple of special procedures.

Mass texting will require that you decide on a “keyword” for your business – a designated word or phrase that your recipients will text to a number to sign up for your text marketing list. Keep your keyword short and easy to remember.

Next, you’ll probably need a text messaging service. These also come in a variety of price ranges, and with a variety of features. The latter can include analytics, message templates, and other tools. Make sure they have your keyword available (you may want to use more than one keyword), and that they use short messaging service (SMS) technology, which can help make sure your text doesn’t accidentally wind up in recipients’ email spam folders.

Your recession marketing punch list

  • If using email to market, always allow readers an opt-out, and unsubscribe them immediately if they ask.
  • If using text, again allow readers an opt out, and make sure they have to sign up for your texts before they begin receiving them.
  • Stay clear from robo-calling, which has acquired a bad reputation.

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