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Drumming Up New Business When the Economy Isn’t Great

Three experts explain how freelancers can stay afloat in uncertain times—and help their customers do the same.

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During economic upheavals, not knowing the best way to keep your business in motion can be scary. The good news: There are strategies that can help you get there. Here, 3 marketing experts explain how they’re navigating the effects of COVID-19 to be there for their customers while charting new paths to success.

Check in with your current customers

As the pandemic began to shut down cities and countries across the globe, Sequoia Mulgrave hopped on a call with her team to devise an action plan. “My goal was to support my clients so I could support my team,” says Sequoia, owner of Connecticut-based DailyMode Studio. “That’s where my head was at.”

Communicating with her current customers became priority number one. She and her team worked to reach out to each client, checking in with them about how they were feeling and how her team could best support them, whether that meant helping them re-strategize or coming up with a new payment plan.

Meet people where they are

Fiona Blinco runs DIY Digital with her husband, Richard, in Adelaide, Australia. In the past few months, she says they’ve kept surprisingly busy as clients experiment with new marketing initiatives to hopefully bring in more income. On top of that, she’s had to get creative and pivot her own business at the same time.

As people started moving their work meetings and happy-hour gatherings to Zoom, Fiona wrote a quick guide to help train first-timers on the platform. “I made a decision to do a number of things in my own business so that I was still relevant and accessible to people,” she says. That also included moving her face-to-face seminars to online events.

Strategies change, but your goals don’t have to

While “pivoting” may be the name of the game during uncertain times, that doesn’t mean you need to go back to the drawing board when it comes to your company mission. After all, “You’re changing how you do things, but you’re not changing your vision or your end goal,” Sequoia explains. “Thinking of it like that can shift your mind.”

She gives the example of a jewelry company that expressed fear about dipping sales. After looking at the data (which mostly says e-commerce sales are up), she worked with them on ways to switch up their messaging—like marketing earrings or a statement necklace that would impress your boss on a video call.

You don’t have to stop marketing

You’ve worked hard to build your business. But it can still feel weird or awkward to continue marketing right now. That doesn’t mean you should stop doing it. Just be mindful of your messaging, and focus on how you can best help your target audience in this particular moment.

Elsa López, an automated marketing consultant and trainer in her own online business, InfoEmprendedora, in Spain, has been using this time to help her clients continue building a community around their brands. “For this reason, I decided to reactivate my sales campaigns,” she says, “and also continue to offer valuable content for free through live masterclasses, participation in online conferences, or the content of my blog.”

Focus on moving forward

In challenging times, it can help to look for the lessons and learning experiences. Being open to change as a freelancer or agency owner can help you create a business structured to survive the unexpected and remain standing when you inevitably reach the other side. Panic is understandable, but pinpointing your fears and putting your energy towards figuring out creative strategies will take you much further.

“Each business will have to adapt and take advantage of the online channel to attract and retain customers,” explains Elsa. On the bright side, if you find success with the new initiatives you’re adopting now, you can continue to leverage those things moving forward, whether that’s more virtual content, a strong database of leads for an email marketing list, or something more.

Yes, it’s a challenging time for many businesses and their teams. But by listening to your customers, getting creative with your strategies, and not giving into panic, we can hold each other up as we continue forward. “I do love the saying that luck happens when preparation meets opportunity,” Fiona adds. “There are often a lot of good things that can happen if you are prepared or near the point where you can quickly pivot to something new.”

Caroline Cox is a writer, editor, and content marketer in Atlanta, Georgia. She's written for publications including The New York Times, Rolling Stone, Architectural Digest, Atlanta Magazine, InStyle and more.

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