Coronavirus is beginning to shake up businesses and consumer behaviour on a massive scale. Both the public and private sectors are scrambling to slow the spread of the illness and contain COVID-19 infection, as it is spreading rapidly, with updates flying in every minute.
Depending on the industry you are in, some losses are unavoidable, but for many entrepreneurs, it is about minimizing your losses and finding ways to capitalize on opportunities. No longer is it business as usual. People’s routines and lives have been greatly impacted.
What does this mean for you and your business? It means that unless you re-examine your marketing strategy, your ability to grow and expand your business is under siege.
As the situation evolves, many small business owners are unsure of what steps to take to mitigate risk, protect employees and support customers. Here are the recommended tips that small business owners can take to accomplish all of those, and still make sales during the COVID-19 pandemic:
Establish a remote work option
Implement a remote work policy that covers when you expect your team to be online or available, how to communicate (via email, Slack, or video call, for instance), and what deliverables each team member is responsible for completing.
Reduce meetings and travel
Try to keep opportunities for exposure to the virus to a minimum. Postpone team meetings or hold them virtually. Skip conferences or other planned business trips.
Communicate transparently with your customers
Everyone is facing this crisis together, so be transparent about what your business is going through. Customers can empathize with brands facing a crisis, as long as you communicate with them properly.
As Harvard Business Review reports, “When customers are separated from the work that’s being done behind the scenes to serve them, they appreciate the service less and then they value the service less.”
Describe the steps you’re taking to mitigate risk and give them insight into the steps you are taking to help the community. Keep your employees and your customers safe by being as proactive as possible about cleanliness.
Shift your sales strategy to online
As storefronts are shutting their doors and workers stay in place, savvy business owners should shift their sales strategies to avoid heavy losses. If you are closing your store, find ways to keep your employees earning a paycheck by selling on social media, putting your email list to good use or using a video tool to reach new leads.
If your sales previously relied on brick and mortar stores, face-to-face meetings, tradeshows or events, it’s time to re-evaluate your marketing strategy. As cities lockdown and people are forced into isolation, one of their best friends becomes the internet.
This is your chance to move your digital communication to the next level! People will be seeking updates, answers, and ways to improve their personal and professional lives. If your business has a solid digital marketing strategy, you are in a better position to weather this storm.
Important questions to ask when it comes to reaching your buyers online
- Does your business have a reputable online presence and an intuitive and easy-to-use online interface?
- Have you implemented a Pay per Click (PPC) online advertising campaign to pull in buyers searching for your services?
- Do you have a social media campaign that engages with your potential customers?
- Are your website and content optimized for search engines when clients are browsing and researching online?
- Is your website delivering a superior user experience – making it easy to navigate, explaining your value proposition and how to buy your products and services?
If you have not invested in an Omnichannel digital marketing strategy, with consistently aligned messaging and customer experiences across channels and platforms, it’s not too late to start. If you are already invested in an online presence, consider devoting even more resources to this critically important area.
How to identify, implement and optimize new sales channels
With social distancing being the preventative measure to contain the crisis, investing or reallocating resources to different sales channels may be the opportunity you have overlooked, until now.
Six ideas to help you sell more effectively in the digital world
- Build e-commerce functionality on your site so customers can order your goods and services directly.
- Make sure you offer quick, inexpensive delivery to online shoppers’ homes or businesses.
- Add functionality to your website so users can easily book virtual appointments.
- Offer webinars in place of face-to-face presentations.
- Implement an online chat tool so online buyers and browsers have a way to get their questions quickly answered.
- Post a comprehensive online FAQ on your site, with strong search functionality