Updated: Jan 6
As the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) pandemic continues to batter the U.S. (and the world), we're all trying to find our new normal. What exactly that looks like, who knows. In addition to the threat to our health and safety, we also face threats to our businesses. Many states have issued a shelter in place orders that have closed all non-essential businesses leaving small business owners scrambling to shift their marketing strategies to stay afloat.
In fight or flight response mode, many businesses have found some really innovative ways to not just remain relevant but to continue to bring in a steady stream of revenue to keep their business afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic. From realtors offering virtual tours to those wine and canvas businesses offering "cabin fever kits" to help us stay sane during these unprecedented times, these small businesses have proven that with a little creativity we can overcome.
Not everyone can afford to pay for a marketing company to help them determine a viable marketing strategy which is why we've put together some tips for staying relevant during the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) pandemic. We may not be able to help you find Lysol wipes or hand sanitizer, but we'd like to do our part in helping small businesses stay afloat the best they can. After all, we're in it together.
Determine Your New Target Audience
The people you were targeting as potential customers before may not be the same during or after the COVID-19 pandemic. Let's take gyms for instance. Avid gym members with a strict workout routine have been forced to find alternative methods to maintain their fitness. Gym equipment sales have significantly increased during the pandemic and finding weights is a struggle. When the gyms are allowed to reopen, will they have the same number of patrons? Probably not. Many have built new routines with the equipment they ordered for their home gyms. Those with a less harsh fitness regime may have found a renewed interest in getting outside hiking or running and may no longer frequent the gym either. So, what can gyms do to bring their current clients back and to draw new business to make up for the loss of revenue during the forced closure? It starts with defining your new target audience and building brand awareness with the new demographic(s) while you're waiting to reopen.
Adapt to the Virtual Environment
That's right, it's past time to bridge the virtual gap. Your competitors have already amped up their virtual solutions, so if you haven't yet, you're behind the curve. Your customers, like you and your employees, are all at home during lockdown keeping safe while awaiting the government's order to reopen the economy. Your physical location may be closed, but your website is open and it's time to adapt your business model. If you sell products or services online, your website should be updated to provide a more comprehensive overview of the product/service. And while we're on the subject of websites, SEO. While you have some time for homework on your website's SEO, I cannot stress to you enough just how vital SEO is to the success of your organization.
Websites that are more user friendly are more likely to find success. Why not ask some friends who are also stuck at home to go through your website to see how easy it was for them to perform certain tasks? Another suggestion to make your website more user friendly is to add a chat function. The chat service provides an easy way for your potential customers to ask questions that may not be immediately obvious on your website. This responsiveness and answering questions as soon as a potential customer expresses interest can help them become a qualified lead and start their journey down the sales funnel to become a paying customer.
When this is all over and your business can reopen, you want your business to be the name at the forefront of your customer's mind. One way to accomplish that is through social media. Creating business pages on social media is an important part of staying relevant - especially as the majority of the nation is stuck home right now with nothing to do but the Facebook scroll. At a minimum, your company should be on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn though we realize that those three won't be relevant to all industries. For instance, restaurants would do better to have a profile on Instagram than on LinkedIn. However, with that being said, creating pages on social media is completely free, so what have you got to lose - especially when there are millions of daily users on the different platforms?!
Many create pages on different platforms at different times which then results in varied wording for the description and different photos for the profile picture and cover image. As a best practice for businesses on social media, ensure that your profiles are all the same across the platforms (i.e. your photos, description, etc. should all be the same on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram). All too often we run across this issue with new clients. Creating uniformity across the board means that your brand can be more easily recognized, which is a good thing.
A common question we get from clients is "What should we be posting". Often, business owners aren't sure of what they should be posting to their social media accounts and end up almost ignoring their social channels. We recommend that you balance industry-related content with messages of inspiration and "human" posts. Are you celebrating a work anniversary? Is your business donating supplies or money to support the COVID-19 efforts? Did you sew some face masks to donate to the local hospital? Do you have a team that participates in charity walks? Your followers want to see the human behind the brand. They want to celebrate your victories and see that you're in it for more than just the money. We do not recommend posting beauty tips on a dental page. Attempting to attract followers that won't end up converting to customers is a waste of time and energy. Keep your posts relevant to your target audience.
Work on Content Marketing
One of the largest complaints most businesses have about their content marketing is that they don't have time for it, which is where companies like Pendragon Consulting come in, offering to run their content marketing for them. Let's address the "What is content marketing" question. Content marketing is just that - content used for marketing. Content can be anything from graphics and posts on social media, blogs for your website, emails, even videos for YouTube. The coronavirus outbreak has forced many small business owners to remain home, so use the time to your advantage to work on some content to help your company stay relevant.
We get that many companies can't afford to pay their employees let alone afford to pay for advertising. However, advertising can provide an opportunity (albeit a paid one) to remain at the forefront of your customers' minds. A meager $50 used strategically can go a long way on social media. If you're going the course alone with advertising, we encourage you to do some research. Facebook (and Instagram) advertising can be SO much more than just boosting a post.
For existing Google Ads users who meet certain criteria, Google is giving away $340 million in Google Ad credits. Some of the criteria you'll need to meet to receive this criteria is to 1) be a small to mid-sized business and 2) have advertised on Google Ads 10 of 12 months in 2019 AND have advertised in January or February of 2020. This means that if you did not advertise with Google Ads during 2020 you would be ineligible to receive the credit.
Content Marketing Solutions for Small Businesses
Pendragon Consulting can help your small business by crafting a custom content marketing strategy tailored to your business' needs. We not only take your input into account, but value it. Let's work together to rebuild and put you back in your company and humanize your brand. Give us a call today at 443-343-2313 or send us a message via our website to schedule a free consultation.