The COVID-19 pandemic has left all of us with a brand new situation to deal with, both in terms of our business and personal lives. With regards to the business end of things, being a business owner was already a stressful endeavor. Most small businesses have thin margins and the slightest disruption can send things into a tailspin. Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic has done that for all of us. But there are ways that we can use this time wisely so that we’re ready to return to normalcy stronger than we were before this all started.
While the federal government is offering substantial financial assistance to small businesses during this time, there are many things that business owners can do on their own, too. Instead of panicking, think about ways that you can work to improve your business during this time. One thing to consider is your marketing strategy. There are some great ways to continue to reach your existing customer base as well as a new audience. And many of them are inexpensive or even free. Check out these tips on how to market your business during COVID-19, and let us know how you’ve been dealing with the pandemic. We’re always looking for more ideas to help small businesses get through this difficult time, and happy to feature your business on our blog, too!
- Analyze Your Existing Marketing Strategies and Budget
- Clean Up Your Contacts and Marketing Segments
- Offer Shoppers Helpful Advice
- Adjust Your Topics to Be Relevant
- Market Your Free Trials, Promotions, and Discounts
- Stay Positive in Your Messaging and Marketing Content
- Go Digital with Your SMB Marketing During COVID-19
Your existing marketing budget is likely to change during this time. For most businesses this is a time to trim back some of the fat on more expendable items on your marketing list.
Start by making a list of every item in your marketing budget, including all social media, paid advertising, PPC campaigns, crowd-sourced sites like Yelp, print and mail ads, email marketing, etc. If you haven’t already done so, use the extra time this opportunity has afforded many of us to break down your cost per lead, and what type of lead each platform brings you. Simply put, you want to identify what sources are bringing you the most valuable leads and the best price.
Marketing strategies that bring in valuable leads but are more expensive may need to be put on hold. Instead, focus on resources that bring your brand to a larger audience and increase your brand awareness and reach so that you’re on those shoppers’ minds when business returns to normal.
For most industries, this pandemic will stifle growth for the first and second quarters of 2020, and perhaps even longer. Rather than try to prevent the inevitable by pursuing sales that are already lost causes, focus on ways to come out ahead of your competitors down the road.
A lot of marketing efforts, particularly digital ones, are tied to various automated platforms and databases. Now is the time to step back and clean them up!
- Go through your email marketing and blog channels to delete duplicate emails and segment your users in more productive ways. Cater your emails more personally to each customer so that you can keep in better touch with them now and in the future.
- Analyze your paid ad campaigns on search engines and social media to see how you can reach a more targeted audience at lower costs. There are endless combinations to play around with, so try a few out and monitor the overall success of each.
- And no one likes getting contacted by people or businesses they have no interest in. If certain users on any of your platforms have shown no interest or interaction with your brand over an extended period of time, perhaps it’s time to cut ties and focus on consumers who are more likely to shop with you.
Your marketing efforts, of course, aren’t always geared toward simply selling. This is especially true during COVID-19. As we mentioned earlier, consumers are spending less, so this is the time to build brand awareness for purchases down the road rather than immediately.
A great way to do this during COVID-19 is to offer helpful advice to your shoppers. Keep your audience updated with new information about your business and other items that might affect them during this time. Offer guides to dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and other related items to help your customers. This will help strengthen your relationship with your customers and leave a memorable impression.
Additionally, be sure to keep your customers updated on the status of your business and any new products or promotions. Make sure to update hours, shipping, availability, and pricing throughout the coming weeks and months, especially as things start to reopen.
Likewise, you want to be sure that all marketing efforts are staying relevant to the situation at hand. Restaurants and water parks, for instance, can’t exactly advertise the same sort of items that they could before. And most of us are in the same boat. So be sure to adjust your content accordingly.
- Write about topics that are helpful to the current situation. Talk about how people can give back to their community and neighbors and stay productive during this time.
- Avoid getting political and just stay supportive of everyone involved.
- Stay accurate in topics that you write about, too. You want any advice you offer to be actually helpful and resourceful. In an age of so much misinformation, stick with official resources that you know can be trusted.
- Finally, your topics should be about contributing something useful rather than converting new customers. Again, helpful, genuine advice will go a lot further than a traditional sales pitch.
Most small businesses can’t afford to hand out significant discounts at this time, but there are still several ways to entice shoppers to spend.
- Modify your offers to fit the current situation. For instance, Google has banned all paid advertising for any travel products or services.
- The situation is changing each day, so pay attention to what’s happening. That way you can make adjustments to your promotions.
- Don’t fall back on the old mantra of creating a sense of urgency. Consumers aren’t interested in being coaxed into spending money during uncertain times. Adjust your content and copy accordingly, for the time being.
- Change your calls to action (CTAs) to be suitable for the situation. If you’re running a promotion, offering a free trial or giving away some items, have your CTAs reflect that.
- If you have a subscription service, come up with a compelling offer, like 50% the first three months, or an unlimited free trial. These are great ways to allow consumers to try your product or service out and make a decision at a later date about spending more money with you.
Not only do you want to stay positive and helpful with your marketing content, but you also need to stay positive in your tone. We’re all anxious about what the next few weeks and months will bring; we don’t need content marketing to remind us of it all. Instead, keep a cheery and hopeful demeanor.
There’s a difference between staying lighthearted and humorous and making light of the situation or being inappropriate. Be sure to err on the side of the former. There’s no need to be somber or pessimistic. Instead, keep your message filled with hope and stay uplifting.
Furthermore, watch specific language. Stay away from words that evoke fear from the virus, such as “killer, spread, infectious, viral,” and similar words.
Most small businesses have upped their digital marketing over the past few years. The current time is particularly apt to steer your focus to digital avenues.
The average American is surely spending more time on social media right now, so put more resources into that channel. As we’ve talked about many times, social media might not be your favorite thing in the world, but it’s an affordable way to reach large, diverse audiences. Spend some time figuring out what platforms and target groups are right for your brand.
Email marketing is another marketing outlet to improve. Use it to keep in touch with your shoppers, rather than reach new ones. Personalize as much as possible, and try to provide this group with helpful advice.
Look at your paid advertising strategies. Whether it’s Yelp, Google, Bing, or any other similar service, break down the marketing dollars and reallocate money to the most productive sources. It’s too easy to overspend on these services, but a little tweaking can make a big difference.
Finally, spruce up your website, especially if you have an eCommerce store. Shoppers are relying on online resources more than ever, so your business needs to keep up with the times. During the COVID-19 situation, you’re likely to see even more traffic than usual. Make sure your website is up to par. Improve your landing pages, product images and descriptions, and cart/checkout process. Make it simple, straightforward, and clear for each person who hops on your site.
More Marketing Advice During COVID-19
And remember that we’re all in the same boat! We’re writing this blog and others to try to help out our shoppers and readers. And we’re also making the same changes ourselves. It’s not always easy, but it has been nice to have extra time to step back and take care of some of these maintenance items. If you need more advice, subscribe to our blog and YouTube channel! And if you’re thinking about a new point of sale when this all quiets down, start a free trial. It’s unlimited, so you can use your extra time to play around with it and schedule a few demos. Click below to get started!