What business marketing tactics do you need to employ to keep your business afloat in these trying times?
The World Health Organization’s most recent report showed that more than 12.5 million people worldwide have contracted the highly infectious COVID-19, including 561,617 deaths. The highest number of recorded cases belong to the US, Brazil, Russia, the UK, Italy and Spain. Governments continue to lock cities down and impose social distancing, to help slow down the spread of the infection.
When the pandemic will finally end is as good as anybody’s guess.
Businesses, regardless of size, are struggling amid the COVID-19 pandemic. They are reporting record-low sales, record-high lay-offs and bleak growth forecasts. Physical offices and stores are closed, temporarily for many but permanently for others.
Small- and medium-scale businesses with limited resources are bearing the brunt of the pandemic.
According to a recent Goldman Sachs survey, about 51% of small businesses in the US will not be able to continue operating for more than three months because of the impact of the pandemic. The survey also found that 75% of these small businesses have been impacted by fewer sales.
Today, it is no longer a question of moving ahead of your competition but more of how to keep your business afloat. For now, your priority is to withstand the financial impacts of COVID-19.
Below are small business marketing strategies you should explore:
1 Establish a semblance of normalcy in your operations.
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Your customers might feel uncomfortable if you introduce radical changes to your products and services at this time. So, strive to remain consistent with your offerings.
For instance, if you were providing dine-in services, pre-pandemic, continue to do so (as the situation would allow), provided you apply new health and sanitation standards such as observing only 50% seating capacity. Complement it with pick-up and delivery services.
As you move along, you may gradually modify your products and services or digitize your operations. Get feedback from your customers, and use these to guide you in adapting your business to the new normal. Make sure you let your people know of any changes–no matter how small–that may affect customer experience.
2 Assess your customers’ needs and preferences during the pandemic.
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As Albert Einstein once said, “In the middle of every difficulty lies an opportunity.”
Use this global pandemic as an opportunity for you to rethink your business model, and slowly adjust to the unfolding new normal. Start focusing your business on the needs and preferences of your customers. You should be able to answer the following questions:
- What is their confidence level?
- What products and services have they been choosing since the start of the lockdown?
- How willing are they to spend for your offers?
- Do they prefer shop visits or home deliveries?
- What are they expecting from a small business, like yours, during the pandemic?
This can also be an opportunity for you to connect with your customers. Call them up, send them e-mail updates, or reach them via social media.
Build or rebuild your business, based on what your customers need and want and not on what you want to create. Stay afloat throughout this difficult time by becoming a customer-centric business.
3 Double down on your digital marketing initiatives.
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Many business owners are asking about the most effective marketing tools they can use in this time of COVID-19. However, it should not be about looking for the best but choosing what is right for your business and your customers.
A neighborhood bookshop may easily shift to pick-up and delivery services. This sort of adjustment, though, might prove challenging for a fine-dining restaurant.
Digital marketing is an effective and low-cost tool to advertise, although the underlying strategies should fit your business and your customer/audience profile. For instance, determine the platforms your audience prefers. Do they frequent social networks or do they opt for blogs? Know their interests or the topics that best answer their pain points. Are they interested in lifestyle topics or do they typically consume white papers and case studies?
Take the time to plan your digital marketing campaigns for your small business. This is no time for a hit-or-miss approach. Create quality content that is valuable to your customers/audience, and distribute these on the right platforms.
4 Reach out to your local customers through local SEO.
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Local businesses are in demand, now that movement is restricted. When people go out for errands, they opt for products and services within their locality. One of the small-scale business marketing strategies that still works today is local SEO.
Improve your local SEO by claiming your Google My Business profile, creating a Facebook Business Page, and making sure your business info is consistent in online directories.
For your website, the following are some tips to boost your local SEO:
- Optimize your webpages with keywords.
- Incorporate long-tail keywords in your content.
- Ensure your website is mobile-friendly.
- Publish unique, valuable and relevant content.
- Establish relationships with websites and blogs for link building.
Local SEO is an ongoing process. It is important to monitor your progress and to optimize for better results. There are free tools such as Google Analytics that generate local SEO reports on the fly.
5 Explore and expand contact-less service.
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Your business cannot stay still and wait until the world returns to the old normal, if that is even possible. Make this global pandemic a turning point for your business to explore e-commerce.
“As stores remain closed in many parts of the world, e-commerce is a crucial channel for keeping sales up, communicating with customers, and forging a sense of community around a brand,” according to consulting firm McKinsey & Company.
It seems that people are slowly adjusting to contact-less services amid the global health crisis. In China, a new e-commerce market has emerged among individuals aged 36 and older and from poorer cities. In Europe, about 13% of consumers said that they were planning to browse online for retailers during the lockdown.
It is best to speak with e-commerce specialists to help you get started or to assist you in boosting your existing e-commerce website. You can also check for free online resources on how to start building an e-commerce site.
It remains unclear if the global pandemic will serve as a hard business reset or only as a short-term glitch. It is undeniable, however, that it is changing the way businesses operate today.
It is quite understandable if you feel jittery at the uncertainty, but this should not discourage you from moving forward.
Reopen your business slowly. Reassess your offers and business model. Listen to your customers. Keep in mind that the best marketing strategies used by companies are customer-centric.
Maximize cost-effective digital marketing tools and boost your local SEO. Make the most out of your available resources.
Keep your business afloat by creating opportunities in the middle of difficulty.