How To Identify The Best Money Making Activities In A Market Downturn

Growing a business can be challenging, and understanding how to spend your marketing time and dollars will be one of the biggest challenges to achieving that growth.

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By Shauna Armitage

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Not all marketing is created equal. Some strategies are designed to yield results in the long term, but your average business owner doesn't always have that long to wait. According to Statista, 21.6% of American small businesses surveyed claimed that the COVID-19 pandemic had a significantly negative effect on business. If those numbers hold across the board, more than 6.5 million businesses are struggling. They need revenue now.

As a fractional CMO working with startups in several industries including fitness, fashion, health, CPG, law and non-profits, I support small companies struggling to scale without a whole bunch of money or resources. I've seen businesses, particularly in this climate, set themselves up to succeed when they focus on engaging in revenue-generating marketing activities first and foremost.

Here's what you should be focused on:

Activities that bring you leads now

Without leads, a business won't have sales — so actively getting leads in the door is crucial for business health. Content marketing is among the most popular marketing strategies to bring in new leads.

While content marketing is essential for every marketer and founder, all of the best content in the world will not likely generate leads in the short term, especially if a brand hasn't yet established a dedicated audience and strong distribution channels.

Instead, you could be spending your marketing resources on more active efforts such as:

  • Engaging with your ideal customers on Instagram, both in the comments and messages
  • Pitching your company for gift guides
  • Showing up to industry events; Speaking or hosting events when possible
  • Developing partnerships with companies and organizations with which your brand has synergy

These can be time-consuming tasks, but these grassroots marketing tactics will create stronger brand awareness and bring more potential customers into your ecosystem when coupled with a great lead magnet.

If you have a marketing budget, running ads on the social media platforms where your target consumer spends the most time will help you quickly test audience, messaging and offers so you can move forward swiftly and confidently.

Related: 10 Expert Tips for Driving More Marketing Qualified Leads

Activities that nurture leads

No business owner wants to spend energy on marketing — and they certainly don't want to spend money on advertising — to discover that 96% of visitors who visit your website aren't ready to buy. One of the best ways to generate revenue in your business is to develop a stronger relationship with the leads you already have. Nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads.

You will build the necessary rapport with your leads when you focus on connecting with them on a human level, show that you share values, and provide them with meaningful content.

You can accomplish this in myriad ways, but ultimately, it comes down to making your potential customer feel like they're having a one-on-one conversation with the brand. This can be done through the following:

  • Sending regular, valuable emails that are in alignment with your lead's desires and goals
  • Engaging in Facebook groups and other digital communities where your ideal customer spends their time
  • Hosting small events where your customers can meet you and engage with your brand in a meaningful way
  • Sending text messages, when appropriate, to keep your potential customers updated on important happenings in your company

Whether you sell to companies or individuals, there's always a human on the other end of that transaction. As humans, we crave connection. As marketers, it's our job to forge that connection between humans and brands.

Related: 3 Money-Making Tactics Rich People Use Every Day

Activities that build brand advocacy

Once you've made the sale, you have even more opportunities to build your business. If you have a great product or service, it's likely that with some great nurturing, your customer will purchase again.

A great product coupled with excellent service is the key to taking your returning customer and turning them into brand advocates. 72% of customers will tell six or more people if they have a satisfying experience. Brand advocacy means that your customers won't just buy from you — they'll also spread the word for you, amplifying your message and making sales on your behalf.

Here are some ways you can turn your customers into advocates for your business:

  • Make sure your product or service is of the highest quality
  • Ask your customers for reviews and referrals
  • Ensure that there is always a strong line of communication between you and the customer, whether it be the DMs on a social media account, an email that is regularly checked, or a chatbot that refers the customer to a human being. Customers will be much happier when they feel heard and don't have to jump through hoops for a brand's attention and support.
  • Start a loyalty or rewards program
  • Create a customer advisory panel
  • Develop a strong community space for your customers through a Facebook group, Mighty Network or similar

Growing a business can be challenging, and understanding how to spend your marketing time and dollars will be one of the biggest challenges to achieving that growth. When you focus your energy on the three best-performing revenue-generating activities — generating leads, nurturing those leads, and turning customers into brand advocates — you'll start to generate revenue in the short term and be one step closer to achieving your big business growth goals.

Shauna Armitage

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

Fractional CMO for Early-Stage Startups

Shauna Armitage is a fractional CMO for early-stage startups to build, implement & optimize a holistic growth strategy from day one. She is the creator of the signature system, The Pyramid of Profitability, where she guides brands into sustainable empires & is host of the Startup Renegades Podcast.

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