Ten Tips forSurviving a Pandemic
- Lean into Digital Marketing – Many small businesses rely on word of mouth for incoming business. But social distancing poses unique challenges for operating our companies as soundly as we always have. That’s why now is a great time to move into social media marketing, content marketing, SEO, and influencer-led campaigns. You can start leaning into these digital channels by making small adjustments. Start your Facebook business page, clean up your LinkedIn business profile, claim your Google My Business listing, and join referral directories like Good Company for better search ranking. If it’s standard in your industry to meet new customers face-to-face to win business, try opening new channels over the web or social media to foster relationships.
- Focus on More Online Sales – If your business has relied primarily on in-store purchases, but you already accept some online orders, try syncing your online and offline inventory. If you don’t already accept online orders, consider which of your products or services can be sold online. Do you offer services that can be adapted from face-to-face to digital?
- Offer Digital Services – If you are a service provider, consider which parts of your business can be done virtually. Things like training, teaching, coaching, advising, consulting, or counseling can often be done online vs. on-site. Offer online courses or start a virtual fitness class. Stream your live events, trade shows, or conferences. Host webinars or start a virtual summit or networking event instead.
- Serve a Need Unique to COVID-19 – shelves are bare, stress levels are high, schools and other municipalities have been shut down. Consider how social distancing may be impacting people and the creative ways that your business can address those unique problems. If you have a retail store, consider adding healthy essentials to your product offering. What can you offer now that will be of value when spending, hospitality, and tourism pick up again? More people are working from home. Can your business adapt to serve a home-office or home-school environment?
- Integrate Social Distancing – Are there parts of your business that absolutely can’t be digitized? Try offering order pick-up, delivery, or curbside services instead. You don’t have to hire a delivery driver. Vendors like Postmates have helped retailers grow local buzz with 3rd party product delivery. The more location-independent your business is, or can become during this time, the better.
- Offer Gift Cards or Flexible Payments – gift cards can increase your cash flow while your business is closed or affected by social distancing. Ask your regular customers to purchase gift cards to show support. Many payment processors like Square offer gift cards. Bonus: You can even offer discounted gift cards; for example, offer $100 gift cards for $75. Social distancing has caused financial strain for businesses and households alike. Companies that offer flexible payment terms, financing, or installment plans may close higher ticket sales more efficiently.
- Heavy up on Merchandise Sales – If you own a location-dependent business like a maker-space, studio, or restaurant, do you also sell merchandise? Sell your special sauce, seasoning, tools, tumblers, mugs, or apparel online. These times present an opportunity to generate interest in other areas of your business that may have gone neglected. If you don’t already offer merch, vendors like Printful offer on-demand print and order fulfillment, so gettings started with merchandise sales is relatively painless. Some restaurants have even opened pop-up shops to sell their perishable items that may not be available at grocery stores due to shortages.
- Offer Other Ways to Shop – There’s more than just online and in-store purchases. A phone call often goes a long way for your overall customer experience. Get to know your customer base by letting your patrons know that they can shop by phone. Bonus: If you don’t normally deliver, consider offering delivery temporarily.
- Maintain Your Customer Experience – Don’t keep your customers in the dark. Communicate with them about any changes to your product or service offering, service interruptions, or amended hours in response to the pandemic. Using marketing tools like Mailchimp, or Easy Texting will make reaching out to your customer list much faster and easier.
- Find support – stay up to date with information to prepare for near and long term impact. Organizations like the U.S. Chamber offer resources for combatting the Coronavirus. If you are a veteran, minority, or woman-lead business owner, there may be exclusive resources available for you.
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