Coronavirus, declining stock market: where will it take your business?

As the saying goes “This too shall pass.”

The past week has been tough with the coronavirus escalation, oil pricing wars, and the rapid decline of the stock market. I’ve lost sleep fretting over the uncertainty; how long will this last, how much further will the market sink, how will this affect my company, and what should I do to prepare my business? Should I pull back, think more strategically, stay consistent, or put my foot on the gas?

I, like many of you, am a small business owner. I just happen to own a marketing agency. This means I have a choice on how to respond when times are uncertain and anxiety is high. These choices will make a big impact on whether I continue thriving or see a decline in my business. I’ve decided to lean on my past experience and historical research to make my next move: keep my foot on the gas!



a man standing in front of a buildingWhat does our past tell us? We had huge market pullbacks in the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, and 2000’s (in fact approximately every 6-10 years) and the research is clear and conclusive; companies who continued investing in their advertising and marketing during these down times fared better during market pullbacks and ultimately gained market share. Companies typically don’t gain market share when times are good; they gain market share when times are bad and the competition is pulling back and/or failing.

What did I learn in 2008? The Great Recession was a very difficult time for most businesses. For my business, we found it more difficult to get new customers, and many customers requested to cancel their agreements with us. Here’s how we responded.

First, we thought strategically. We thought about customer segments that still did well during a downturn, and we focused our sales and marketing with them.

Second, we improved our current customer experience to demonstrate our commitment to support and nurture them.

Third, we continued investing heavily in our own sales and marketing to capture more business when the pool of in-market customers was shrinking.

The result? We maintained revenue growth and fared much better than our competitors throughout 2008, 2009, and into 2010.



a close up of a mapIt’s important for us to remember that despite sales getting harder to come by during uncertain times, demand still exists. In other words, you provide products and services people still need.

The sales cycle may become a little longer or you may have to pay a little more to acquire that customer, but Google searches are still happening, visits to your website will still persist, and people are still researching.

You may not be a historian, and times were certainly different in 1918-1919, but many are comparing the current Coronavirus situation to the Spanish Flu, which wreaked havoc on the markets throughout 1918. As soon as the final wave of Spanish flu subsided, the market began a 50% climb which lasted late into 1919. Consumers still need products and services, and the market is still driving demand. It’s the companies that invest in securing this demand who emerge the strongest.



As we enter another period of uncertain times, I realize I must take a strong position on how Bell Media responds to market conditions. This will make a tremendous impact on where we are as a company in 6, 12, and 18 months from now.

I’m making the choice to keep my foot on the gas; doubling down on local marketing efforts, taking advantage of competitor pullback, and gaining valuable market share while the time is ripe.

We’re also making the commitment to focus on our customers more than ever before; thinking more strategically for them, taking advantage of lower click costs, and supporting them in their efforts to beat the competition.



You may just have a unique opportunity to take advantage of the market pullback and get cheaper traffic; we intend to help our customers achieve this so they can grow their businesses and win.

So as we enter a market pullback and uncertain times, let’s remember: “This too shall pass.”