How can small businesses survive in the era of COVID-19?
Pre-purchase gift certificates are a great start, but that’s not enough!
Here are 9 more ways to help your business thrive even in uncertain times:
1. Make the Most of Social Media
Social media views and engagement have increased by over 30% in the last three weeks. Though this is a global pandemic, the impact is local. Get creative within your context. For businesses that rely on foot-traffic, the insight you have on your local customers is invaluable. For example, is there any way you can pivot your product or get people to pay for a virtual experience? Local nuance can help you continue marketing to a targeted geographic area at a relatively low cost using paid social media.
Apply for a Facebook Small Business Grant while you are at it!
2. Use Email
Send your customers some quick tips to tide them over while they hanker down – a simple recipe, tips to maintain edges or lashes, a video with a good workout etc. The goodwill will pay off in spades and keep purchase channels open as you adjust your business to changing times.
3. Start Text Communication Campaigns
Now is the time for small businesses to get on text campaigns if you’ve collected phone numbers from folks as they purchased your products or services. People are on their phones with nothing much to do.
4. Expand Your Sales Force
Reach out to people that love you or your brand… they will sell for you. Compensate them for that. Offer referral incentives or an affiliate program to your brand advocates.
5. Get Online and Listen
Hold watch parties, zoom gatherings, and 1:1 check-ins. Grab data from your market by listening to their needs, fears, happy triggers etc… this is GOLD!!! Start a dialogue and use these challenging times to truly engage your community in honest conversations about what you’re doing to support them and how you’re working towards resuming business. Make them feel the love even if it’s only online.
6. Double Down on Your Digital Spend
With the sudden rise of the stay-at-home economy, it’s imperative that small businesses and startups pivot swiftly to digital in order to stay profitable because, now more than ever, consumers are turning to social media as a source for content, comfort, and even creativity. Double down your dollars so that you can capture more market share. It may sound a bit callous, but we saw the same thing happen in 2008/2009. The companies survived and thrived turned a challenging time into an opportunity to grow.
7. Treat Your Employees Well
Let them put their health and families first. Acknowledge their concerns and life demands. Many probably have kids and are feeling the pressure more than ever before with the recent school shutdowns. When you treat your employees with respect, they will be more loyal and committed to your business. They will also likely come up with creative solutions to maintain productivity and service levels. That’s good for business and morale alike.
If you have a business with 500 or fewer employees reach out to your bank and see if you qualify for relief through CARES Act (the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act. This will to help with payroll, rent, utilities, healthcare costs and more.
In today’s world there are a lot of tools that make it easy to collaborate remotely. Find partners you can work with to provide product bundles or pivot to bring in cashflow. Use Google Docs to collectively ideate concepts. Ask employees and loyal customers to create human-interest story vblogs. Google Spreadsheets make it easy to collaboratively build out a content calendar. Take this time to write blogs, prepare email campaigns and engage your customers with a robust marketing campaign, while reassessing and pivoting as needed. As market dynamics change rapidly, what’s decided two weeks ago isn’t necessarily appropriate today. Collaborating can help bring light to blindspots.
9. Convert, Don’t Cancel
With many events and galas canceled, many non-profits, start-ups and small businesses are wondering what next? If these events were critical to getting clients or raising the capital you need to maintain your staff and do your work in the community, don’t cancel! Instead consider doing a digital event!
From campaigns for micro-donations through social media to crowdfunding, there are lots of great digital tools which, if done right and quickly, can slow the decline of fundraising efforts. There are also meeting tools like Calend.ly and Zoom which make it easy to establish intimate connections between donors, keep meetings on track, and keep communication flowing.
The world is changing every moment. The way we market our businesses and how we respond to what is happening both globally and locally will define future growth & revenue. I certainly don’t have all the answers during these turbulent times but I hope sharing some of my digital marketing expertise will bring a bit of clarity in a moment of chaos.
Don’t hesitate to reach out if there’s any way I can help you as you navigate the coming weeks and months.