If you're nervous about deciding when to get more aggressive with your advertising (or other business investments), you're not alone. After the year we've had, lots of people are trying to figure out the best timing and path to recovery and normalcy. The goal of this post is to provide you with resources that can help you make informed decisions related to three critical points:
- The public health landscape; what is the state of the pandemic?
- The employment landscape; are paychecks hitting households?
- The general economic landscape; how are things, really?
Monitor hospitalizations. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) shows the number of hospital beds available in your state, as well as the number of beds occupied by COVID-19 patients. It's a trend chart that illustrates how things have unfolded over time, when hospitalizations peaked in your state, and what the current forecast looks like. Note that we have set the link to show Georgia as an example, but you can use the drop-down menu at the site to look at your state, specifically. Are hospitalizations in your area going down? That would be good news.
Monitor new infection rates. Is the number of new infections in your area going up, moderating, or going down? The Coronavirus Resource Center at Johns Hopkins University gives the most up-to-date numbers on infection rates for your state. We set the link to show Massachusetts, but again, use the drop-down menu to explore the state or states that matter most to you.
Monitor vaccine distribution. How fast are they getting "shots in arms" where you live? The vaccine tracker provided by JHU's Coronavirus Resource Center illustrates the rate of vaccination in each state. Again, we've selected a random state to use as an example (New York), but you can use the drop-down to look at the state(s) where you do business.
In February — the most recent month available at this writing — the national unemployment rate was at 6.2%. You can monitor that national number at BLS.gov. However, the numbers that matter most aren't national, they're local and regional. So instead, we suggest that you follow this link to a map of the United States and click on the state that matters most to you and then the city or cities within that state where you do business.
To take this one step further, don't just look at the overall number for a state or city; scroll down to study the occupations that make up the employment base in your area. Which categories have the strongest employment base? Which categories are still waiting to come back? Some business categories are returning faster than others, so it's smart to upgrade your targeting to include occupational considerations.
In many households, the biggest investment they have is the home they live in, so I like to start with simple home values. One source to watch that shares home value trends "at-a-glance" is Zillow. We've chosen a city to use as an example — in this case, Charlotte, North Carolina — but you can enter the state or city of your choice to see the home value trends in your market or trade area. This is important because rising home values tend to lift consumer confidence.
Speaking of consumer confidence, it is rising, according to the people who measure it (The Conference Board). And if you're watching the trendline long-term, the same is true for the Dow Jones Industrial Averages, the S&P 500, and the NASDAQ Composite Index.
The Road Ahead
There could still be some bumps in the road — such is the nature of business and life. But while it is prudent to be cautious when you're facing headwinds or turbulent times, the most successful business people recognize when it's time to step on the gas coming out of that turbulence. Be informed so you can make informed decisions. Yes, we've seen some dark days in the past year, but let data illuminate your path forward to brighter times.
If you want help building a data-driven marketing strategy for your business comeback, click here.