As an industry, digital marketing is in one of the biggest booms we will ever see in our careers. Thousands more businesses are looking to convert more of their sales through digital channels, or switch to online entirely. Many of these businesses, unless their hands were forced, wouldn’t have proactively made this step, not without a huge push.
Yet, despite the increasing overall demand, we’re also seeing businesses cut back on digital marketing spend. This is especially the case since the renewed wave of lockdowns sweeping the country, particularly in NSW and Victoria.
We know from 2020 that this is exactly the opposite of what these businesses should be doing. We have case studies and data showing that those who stayed the course or adjusted strategy somewhat and adapted, did very well. Those that cut back on digital spend, found it hard to catch up.
However, there’s also a palpable tendency to not assert ourselves to our clients and senior managers and make the case for increasing spend instead. In many ways, it’s easier to sit back, wait this out, and join the fray later.
We rationalise our inaction by noting that ROI per dollar is down right now with the increased competition of all these new businesses competing online, and that privacy changes from Apple have made it much harder to get the job done. Perhaps cutting back spend is the right idea? After all, we know they’ll be back!
Whilst nobody has a crystal ball, it’s very unlikely that these businesses will go back offline, and somehow we’ll find ourselves back in 2019 conditions once the pandemic is over. Instead, it’s more likely that we’re discovering a new normal, not weathering a storm.
So, we need to be bold. If you’re told to cut budget, you need to arm yourself with the metrics that prove it’s a bad move to shrink what is often the only functioning new revenue lifeline these businesses have.
If you're on the agency side, we also have some work to do. We have to walk the walk as well as talk the talk if we’re to have any credibility in our recommendations. The pandemic should be a catalyst for aggressive growth - SEO Advantage is growing in headcount but also across geographical lines too, with our first clients (and soon office) in Singapore coming aboard this year.
It's certainly not the easiest thing to do during a pandemic, but the time is right.
In the past, we’ve worried about being undercut by overseas competition. Now we have the upper hand. There’s a genuine hunger for experienced professionals from Asian businesses to guide them through the impact of the pandemic. The skill and reputation of Australian professionals combined with a closely aligned time zone is a fantastic asset to have for these businesses.
It’s a curse of human nature that we often only really recognise the ‘good years’ in hindsight. The pandemic is undoubtedly a terrible thing, but we shouldn’t ignore the tailwinds it has given us as a profession. Those that don’t recognise this and are cautious will have a lot of catching up to do when we are finally through this. We have never been so important to a business, we need to start to act on it.