Goodness, what a change a month can make. Last month we were talking about ways to help your small business grow, and this month we may be talking about ways to help it stay alive. As an entrepreneur, these can be very worrying times indeed. Of course, the number one priority should always be to stay safe and stay healthy, but after that extra attention needs to be focused on what to do about your business.
Many small business owners find they have to search for new ways of conducting business as more “shelter in place” requirements are put in place. Businesses that rely on walk-in customers have been very creative in finding new ways to provide their service. Restaurants quickly pivoted to drive-through and take-out capabilities and hair salons are offering custom color solutions through the mail, while exercise and yoga studios offer online classes as a way of helping clients stay in shape. More companies have found ways to sell their products online so customers don’t have to risk coming into a retail outlet.
Resources are available, and there might be a light at the end of the tunnel with the government’s massive stimulus package, which includes loans for small businesses. In certain cases, you might not have to repay the loan if you manage to maintain your workforce. So what can you do to continue trying to provide for your family and your employees? The answer might lie in placing an even bigger emphasis on your marketing efforts.
You need to let prospects and customers know you are still in business, and clearly explain how you have adapted to changing conditions. Here are some tips to help implement a strong small business marketing strategy during the coronavirus:
• Website: Add information to your website to let potential customers know about the products and services you offer, and explain how they can be accessed in these more restricted times. If you have a product, make it easy to buy online, and arrange payment and delivery. Perhaps you can offer gift certificates for future use. You might be able to sell something via video, webinar or e-book, if you offer a service. One-on-one video sessions for a fee might be the answer.
• Public Relations: Let the local media know what you are doing differently during these difficult times. They are always looking for a good story, and want to interview local experts about how to get through the pandemic. Any positive news in these trying times can be a sought-after commodity. This helps to get your company’s name out without incurring additional expenses.
• Social Media: Get out there on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social media outlets to keep reminding people that your business is still here. Talk to them ask questions, provide answers, shape tips…whatever you can do to keep in touch and remain relatable.
• Email: Reach out to your email list and communicate directly with them. More people are home now, so the likelihood is higher that they will read your message. Let them know you are still here to help, and inform them about any special offers you might have that can make their lives easier, especially during times of self- isolation and social distancing.
• Videos: People have more time to watch videos now, so you can post extra clips to keep interest heightened. They are now more accustomed to seeing people at home demonstrating how they are still working, and more desperate than ever to share the human connection. Let your target audience see what you are doing to help your business and them. Perhaps you can even include some employees or customers who can share special insights or humorous stories.
It has always been said that the first budget item to get cut in down times is marketing. But now is not the time to pull back from letting people know about your company. Many of the modern marketing methods require nothing more than a computer and your time, so take advantage of them to continue promoting yourself, and set a solid foundation for recovery after the crisis passes.