If you’re a small business trying to figure out not only how to stay open during the coronavirus pandemic but still be okay after the pandemic is over, you’re certainly not alone. Millions of businesses throughout the world are being threatened due to the worldwide economic shutdown.
Still, there are ways to weather this terrible time — and it starts with revisiting your marketing strategy.
Tip #1: Do What You Do Best
During a crisis like the coronavirus pandemic, it’s important for your core business purpose. What do you do best? What do you do that other businesses don’t do? Do you need to streamline during this time to offer your very best products and services? Take this time to evaluate your value proposition, and then build your marketing strategy from there.
Tip #2: Don’t Be Afraid of Over-Communicating
Your customer base is a captive audience during this time, so don’t worry too much about over-communicating. Be transparent and let them know there may be questions they have that you don’t have the answers for or delays in the supply chain. You should use all of the platforms available to you to let your customers know about the latest updates. Set expectations now to avoid frustrations later.
Tip #3: Be Vulnerable
Everyone is struggling during this time, so sharing a little bit of your business’ personal story can help with stability and brand management. How has the pandemic hurt your business? How has it shown you the very best of humanity? Share on your website, on social media, and through email. Shared experiences knit customers and businesses together, so be honest and give a little of yourself to your base.
Tip #4: Extend Your Brand
Is there a new product or service you can offer your customers that would help them during the coronavirus pandemic? There are many incredible stories of businesses shifting from making foam to making foam personal protective gear or a company that pivots from making spirits to hand sanitizer. Can that be you, too?
Tip #5: Deploy Your Ambassadors
Now is a great time to consider mobilizing a volunteer team of social media brand ambassadors. Think about asking a dozen or so loyal customers who are social media savvy to be the bearers of all good news about your business. You can equip them with branded posts and photos/graphics for key social media platforms, so all they need to do is post on the days you identify. Your social media brand ambassadors also can announce shop sales, give testimonials and refer new customers through their personal networks. They can build your brand outside of your branded channels — and you can incentive their participation with perks, such as discounts, or free promotional products.
Tip #6: Get Creative
When many customers are stuck at home, this is a time to help them occupy their time in productive ways. How can your business help? Think about hair salons offering take-home coloring kits or pottery shops putting together a box of paint and pottery that you can pick up and drop off to be put in the kiln. What are the creative ways you can help customers explore their own creative spirit? Video production is another easy way to engage with potential customers.
Tip #7: Run Campaigns
Every small business has the opportunity to get in front of regular and new customers by running email email, and social media campaigns. The point of these campaigns is two-fold: You want to alert customers to a sale or product line offering and you want them to engage with you to continue to build your brand. To that end, consider sending a weekly email where you 1) feature a product that they may need or find useful during the pandemic and 2) feature a personal story of your business, an employee, or a loyal customer. Encourage your customers to react to the “engagement” content of your emails and to share their own story for the chance to be featured in future communications. You’ll sell more of your products and you’ll build community with some of your soon-to-be biggest fans.
What’s Your Next Move?
The coronavirus pandemic isn’t making it easy on any small business, but there are things owners can do right now to improve their chances of staying afloat. Try out each of our seven marketing tips as you revisit your business’ external and internal plans over these next few months. Hopefully you can make it to the other side of this pandemic.