Advice for digital agencies during the COVID-19 Pandemic

By now, you’ve already learned the most important lessons being spread across the Internet on how to handle the COVID-19 crisis as a digital agency; the basics of remote work, what industries are doing well during an epidemic, and how much cheaper it is to advertise right now. These articles on how to market during COVID-19 are everywhere since the beginning of March 2020.

We thought we’d get a bit hands-on with what we believe digital agencies could be doing to combat any losses of sales and use the downtime to come out stronger.

First of all, let’s dig into some ideas related to web development – our core business.

Find new work for idle team members

Redesign your own websites

We often hear agencies say that they don’t have time to redesign their own websites since they’re busy redesigning those of their clients. As the slower pace settles in and designers get freed up, use the time to invest in your own website and be able to generate more leads when things pick back up. It’s much more expensive to do that when your team could be working on billable projects.

Migrate old websites to WordPress

If you have old clients sitting on legacy sites that you’re always worried will break, take this time to use your idle developers to migrate those sites to a new WordPress installation. Maybe add ACF Flexible Content as the backend setup to allow more flexibility in reorganizing pages and building new landing pages.

Help a client launch their products with WooCommerce

If you support offline businesses that have been pushing their decision to get an online store, you might want to offer them a great deal right now to get on the web.

Offer free audits

If you know that your old clients’ websites could use some optimizations and improvements to SEO, page speed, or ADA, offer them to do an audit for free right now while you have free capacity. When things get better, they know exactly what value they will get for their money when you send the proposal to upgrade them.

Offer the exploration phase for free

If you have leads that are considering to work with you, but are held up by the crisis, offer them to do the exploration phase for free – or with a big discount. You’d be helping them out and at the same time lining them up for a billable project once they’re ready to go. This helps you get your designers, developers, and copywriters busy with work much quicker, instead of waiting for all new projects to make their way through a crowded top-of-the-project-funnel.

Be your own customer

Lastly, you can reassign your team members to help you find new leads. This doesn’t have to be a strict outbound sales effort, you could also identify and categorize the potential customers in your area and prepare new marketing materials and campaigns that target your new focus personas.

Get free advice from an agency consultant

If you’ve already done your damage limitation and invested in special initiatives, you can start looking externally for help with your overall strategy. Agency consultants have been offering to do free calls to get acquainted with you and advise on how to manage the crisis.

If you find someone you trust, you might end up with a strategic partner that helps you use this crisis to your advantage as you take a closer look at the agency you’re running.

Here are some offers that I saw on LinkedIn (this piece of information will likely not be valid after spring 2020):

Useful resources for digital agencies during COVID-19 you don’t want to miss

Karl Sakas is also an agency consultant and writes excellent blog posts that are more actionable than most articles I come across. And they’re written specifically for digital agencies. Here’s his take on how to manage COVID-19:

Another favorite blog of mine is the one from Orbit Media. Their CMO and co-founder Andy Crestodina conducted a survey in March and got responses from 122 agency executives on how they were affected by the Coronavirus outbreak so far. Most were slightly negatively affected overall, with the biggest drop in “Media Planning / Buying” whereas “Website Design and Development” was the second least affected:

Finally, I absolutely love the podcasts that Nathan Anibaba has started to produce since about a year ago. He has interviewed agency executives every week for over a year, and recently he started to address the topic of how the Coronavirus impacts agencies with more frequent episodes. Be sure to check them out:

Stay healthy, stay strong!

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