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David Hoffman: Digital marketing lessons from the current crisis

David Hoffman digital marketingWhen I first began working in digital marketing in 1994, people were just beginning to hear about something called the World Wide Web, and the question I was often asked was: “Is the internet going to last or will it be the next Betamax?”

Clearly, questions about the internet’s viability were answered long ago, although our current state of affairs seems to have turned that question around to: “Will the internet soon be the only marketing medium we have left?”

While that will not be the case, there are immediate takeaways that business owners and marketers should recognize regarding their digital presence, as well as actions they can take to better survive the current climate and be better positioned for the future.

Commit to maintaining a social media presence, even if you can’t stand Facebook or Twitter. Business owners need to separate their personal feelings about social media’s preponderance of cat videos and food pics from the need to continually engage your audience via the social channels that are right for your business. In addition to sharing pertinent news stories with your audience, invest in content that is engaging and sharable, such as well-produced videos or ongoing news/blog posts. Proprietary content helps keep websites and social media up-to-date and positively impacts Google ranking.

Companies that have been doing this are currently better positioned than those now playing catch-up. But there’s no point in lamenting being too busy in the past to address a neglected online presence – use the current opportunity to strengthen your digital content and put a plan in place to regularly do so going forward. The investment in your online presence will not only help now but will help drive your business when the current crisis is over.

Double-down, if possible. It’s not just Amazon, Zoom and Netflix that find their businesses in demand in the current economy. There is a range of industries whose expertise is being called upon to help weather this storm, including insurance agencies, IT companies, telecom services, financial advisors and eCommerce providers.

If your company resides in one of these categories, or another that is currently in demand, strategies similar to those outlined above still apply; seize the opportunity to build awareness of your services with a robust commitment to improved digital marketing communications that will reinforce your position as a leader in your field.

Don’t hire your golf buddy’s sister’s friend’s son as your digital marketing expert. There is sometimes a tendency to assume that leaving our digital marketing in the hands of a person (usually a younger person) who is comfortable on social media platforms is a sufficient approach to digital marketing.

This rarely works, even during the best of times, and with so much uncertainty right now, most businesses need more than a set of hands who “kind of knows” how to boost a Facebook post. It is more important than ever to make the investment in working with an experienced digital marketing professional providing experience, strategy and the reliability to be a long-term partner.

Westchester and Fairfield counties are chock-full of talented web developers, graphic designers, social media experts, copywriters, PR professionals and video studios. But there are pretenders as well; get referrals from colleagues and organizations such as the Business Council of Westchester (thebcw.org), Hudson Valley Gateway Chamber of Commerce (hvgatewaychamber.com) or Stamford Chamber of Commerce (stamfordchamber.com). Hire locally and you’ll also be assisting your business community.

The coronavirus pandemic has created an unprecedented set of challenges for our businesses and the people connected to them. We will come out the other side, and when we do, being better prepared by embracing the new realities of digital marketing and communications will put us in position to hit the ground running.

David Hoffman is founder of Search Smart Marketing, www.isearchsmart.com, a digital marketing agency located in Westchester and Fairfield counties specializing in search and social media marketing for small and midsize companies. He also teaches search marketing courses as an adjunct professor at Fordham University and Purchase College. David can be contacted at dhoffman@isearchsmart.com.


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