Definitive Guide to growing a digital marketing business during uncertain times
Author: Catherine Howell March 22 | Blog
Trying to grow but things around you are going crazy? Here’s your Definitive Guide to growing a digital marketing business during uncertain times.
There’s never been a better time to launch and build a digital marketing freelancing or contracting business.
As companies the world over look to cut costs, talent strategies begin to favour freelancers and contractors. For those that can demonstrate competence in their fields, downturns needn’t come at the cost of growth.
Digital marketing freelancers have always been a staple of the global economy and recent statistics show that the proportion of freelancers is on the rise – estimated to make up about 50% of the US workforce by 2028! Why? In part, because economic conditions that place a strain on expenses are making companies hesitant to employ in-house teams and favour, instead, freelancers as a flexible solution to their marketing needs.
But here’s the thing, even with a silver lining, a fact of the matter is, there’s a standstill economy at play – normal measures should not be applied.
Your definitive guide to growing a digital marketing business during uncertain times
STEP #1: OFFER A SKILL THAT HAS DEMAND UNDER MARKET CONDITIONS
Ok, so you have the existing perk of being able to work from home or anywhere in the world for that matter, which also means you can work with clients from all over the globe. But none of this means anything if your offer isn’t suited to market demands.
The businesses that will be doing well during tough times include gaming apps, security companies, video conferencing software, online wealth-making courses, meditation apps, etc (to name a few). These types of businesses will/should be going all-in with their lead generation to capitalise on being first to market before the competition that always follows opportunity comes in.
This means things like:
- Digital advertising
- UX & conversion rate optimisation
- email marketing
- PHP & code
- sales copy
- Websites, branding, & email marketing are all part of this as well but especially amongst industries doing well.
So here’s where things get exciting.
Let’s take a tiny subset of one of these in-demand skills and look at Facebook ads. In 2019 there were 7 million advertisers. On the flip side of this, the largest online Facebook community (Facebook ad hacks) for Facebook advertisers only has 130,000 members. Since 2017, there’s been a continued gap in the market between the demand for Facebook advertising skills and competent advertisers. Even if a recession knocked out 80% of these advertising businesses, there’s still a considerable gap.
Now if we estimate that about 80% of those advertising businesses that use Facebook ads also use websites, sales copy, branding etc – then there is an abundance of potential work at play!
Current Problems that People Are Paying $$$ to Solve:
- Personal care and at home cosmetic solutions (eg: waxing kits)
- Lack of social contact
- Can’t workout
- Service businesses closed
Point being, make your life easier by choosing a skill that already has demand behind it. If you try to sell services that aren’t directly helping to solve something for a specific industry then you will get left behind.
Niches that may be worth pursuing during uncertain times:
- Gaming apps
- Security companies
- Video conferencing software
- Online wealth-making courses or summits
- Meditation apps
- Divorce and employment dispute lawyers
- Digital/development agencies
NOTE: These are only suggestions and a segment of all the potential niche opportunities of digital marketing. The key is to think outside the box!
STEP #2: BUILD COMPETENCE IN THAT SKILL
Before taking on paid clients, make sure you master the solution you are selling to clients. The most important factor in you being able to thrive during an economic crisis is your ability to think past the fear and hysteria, confidence. Losing clients, not delivering on results, these types of events can knock the wind out of your sails in a way that would make for a difficult recovery even without a recession.
So before you charge for a digital marketing service, become competent with it (yes, even if you plan to outsource, you should still have a solid foundational understanding of what digital marketing solutions your business is selling).
True mastery and understanding is attained through observation (ex: how kids watch adults), training (ie: the mechanics, rules and ecosystem behind the service offer), and practical experience (ie; getting your hands dirty and implementing that actual skill in real-life).
Make it a new part of your daily routine to:
- Learn something new about your craft, industry or customer every day
- Watch what experts or peers that are the level you aspire to are doing
- Offer to help friends or get connected with internships to gain real-life experience and apply your knowledge until you feel confident you can replicate results
STEP #3: WOW YOUR CLIENTS
Have you ever heard of the old adage that keeping a customer is easier than trying to find a new one? When the pool of leads gets smaller, it’s even more important to pay attention to your existing clients.
At a base level here are some of the processes you should put in place:
- Pro-active communication, if you’re in the first few months of a new client relationship you should be communicating on a regular basis, if times get tough for clients or their results are suffering this communication should increase to daily. Even if nothing has changed between work done yesterday and today, touching in with clients and providing whatever update will help to reinforce that you are in this for them and it’s something you’re proactively addressing
- Daily huddle – tough times call for great creativity! Cruising along with funnels and campaigns that used to work circa March 15th 2020 isn’t going to cut it anymore. The budgets will got smaller for some but expectations remained the same. But hey, that’s actually a good thing, it’s given you the opportunity to solve problems with great rewards that you are perfectly equipped to solve. It means innovation, thinking outside of the box, strategising. How can your client become more online if not already? How can they use their existing audiences to quickly create a new offer? How can their existing situation be optimised, even by just 1%?If you’ve got a great idea that can help them, now’s the time to share it! If you’re not sure, schedule in a daily huddle, even if for just 15mins. PS – yes, you can totally have a huddle by yourself too – that’s one of the perks of doing what we do! Remember, the more they grow, the more you do too.
- Set Google Alerts for their industry and competitors Not just so that you can keep tabs on what is being innovated in their industry (specifically relating to your services or solution) as well as the health of their industry, but also so that you can encourage hope and help to strategise solutions for them.
- Express understanding – in the agency/client world the relationships that withstand natural and economic disasters are the ones based on a people to people relationships. Do you know your client and what they are personally going through, do they think you understand them on that level? This doesn’t mean you need to become best friends but showing that you pay attention to them as a person and not just a business or client will go a long way. Here’s a hack for those of you awkward in human connection – read the 5 Love Languages, find out what love language your client is and express it in this manner so that they get you understand their situation (it only gets awkward if your client’s love language is ‘Physical Touch’ lol). This builds affinity to the level where someone will think twice before simply axing your services.
The businesses that refuse to adapt and pivot are left in the dust, technology and market conditions will always change, adaptability is not only a life skill but a success one as well.
TIP: A client re-opening their contract is a sign that they are potentially about to jump ship. Several online proposal softwares (ex: Proposify) will alert you when this happens allowing you to reach out and potentially prevent losing the account altogether.
If you’ve been working with a type of niche that has already felt the impact of is starting to panic in the current economic conditions, there are several things you can do to assist them.
Other things you could do to help them out:
- Offer deferred payments
- Help them take their offer online or change their offer
- Refer them to subsidies or funding sources that could help them out during hard times
STEP #4: HELP YOURSELF
So you’re the engine behind this whole thing right. The thing is, if you burn out and hit a confidence snag the show goes to shits. With hysteria happening all around you, trying to “keep calm and carry on” is getting harder by the day. Now more than ever is the time to make sure you’re looking after yourself. Not just physically but mentally.
Put some time aside to practice journaling or meditation. Read, listen, and watch the things that will help you. Not scare you. We’ve always struggled with this one but – get some sleep!
But probably more importantly give yourself a break. Things are what they are and happened the way they did not because you’re a victim of reality or incapable in any manner but because who’s to say something beautiful is yet to come of all this.
STEP #5: WOW YOUR LEADS
There’s some pretty effective and simple ways to impress your potential clients. If you’ve got a hot lead in the pipeline that you think would be a perfect fit, here are three simple ways to impress them with your proposals:
- Use Facebook’s creative hub to mock-up ads using their own branding
- Put together a competitor swipe file – again shows you’ve been doing your homework. Use Facebook’s free ads library to search for ads competitors might be running.
- Embed a personalised video message in their proposals. You can say something as simple as “Hey Steve, so excited to potentially be working with you, I’m excited about being able to potentially help you grow XYZ. Inside this document you’ll find more information about the processes we use and the solution you’re getting. If at any time you have any questions don’t hesitate to reach out to me.”
A downturn doesn’t mean the end of the world, it just means you need to operate more like the adaptive startup. Having to whip your business processes and boosting your competence in order to attract and keep businesses will only be a good thing for you and your business.