As we move into 2021, we leave a year behind us that most of us are glad to see go. Although we are beginning a new calendar year, we are not leaving the virus behind. We know from officials that vaccines will slowly roll out during the spring and summer. Some businesses are thriving in this new reality, but some are suffering – especially retail, food services, and events. So, with that in mind, how do you plan ad spending with so much uncertainty?
Plan, but Be Prepared To Pivot
In a meeting this week, I called it the “Plandemic Effect,” meaning we will plan, but we will also be ready with pivots and changes that we can put into place as soon as we see a roadblock or significant change arise. In practice, this may mean having a solid marketing plan and ad budgets and also having a light dialogue every week with your team to think through the latest changes and if they affect the spend or messaging. Being ready to change will be the best way to set a plan and run with it… knowing we may alter the path as we go. Social media marketing and search engine marketing are incredibly responsive marketing avenues and the ad budgets are always adjustable, making it a perfect Plandemic option.
Ad Buying by Month or Quarter
Buying your advertising in bulk or pre-buying a package for the year makes sense. It can save you money by setting your rates with a media provider. With the uncertainty in the market now, you can also buy at some incredible rates right now. But, buying by quarter or by the month may be the deftest tactic since we don’t know how the year will play out. Take into consideration your specific market, and if it is dependent on social interaction with the public. If so, it may be prudent to ask your media providers if you can lock an annual rate in for a quarterly buy. They may just work with you. Ad budgets are not as easily changed with traditional marketing but you may be able to change them on a monthly or quarterly basis!
Communicate Clearly and Frequently
Your ad agency, your media partners, and your internal marketing team are all in the same place – a place of uncertainty. Reach out to them regularly, schedule monthly meetings at a minimum, and let them know when something changes inside your business. We are all in this together, and we all want to see businesses survive. Contracts and agreements should be honored, but many of your partners may be open to temporarily reducing or pausing your contract or buy if you are in dire straits. If you’ve been honest and open with them all along, you’re much more likely to get the result you need to go lean and survive if it comes to it.
Bottom Line: Ad buying and marketing planning in the age of COVID is a challenge. But, being prepared to pivot quickly, buying wisely and not overcommitting, and keeping a constant flow of communication flowing can position you to be ready for any uncertainty to come.
Here’s to 2021 and building the economy back up together.
By Jason Heflin
Jason Heflin is one of CrowdSouth’s owning Partners and brings years of marketing experience from his past lives as a corporate marketing manager, writer, and freelancer. He also plays the ukulele for fun, which is cool.