While social isolation is beneficial to public health, it is detrimental to small businesses. Foot traffic has plummeted since the coronavirus outbreak, as customers have opted to stay at home and self-quarantine. Many business owners are concerned that COVID-19 will have a greater and longer-lasting impact than anticipated. The Covid-19 pandemic has altered nearly every aspect of our lives, both personally and professionally. Many businesses are working remotely, at reduced capacity, or have completely shut down, making it appear as if there are few if any, opportunities for business growth. Despite these setbacks, there are ways to make the most of the current situation and keep your business growth during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here are some things you can do to keep sales coming in and your customers and employees engaged, no matter where you (or they) are:
Be strategic about your digital marketing efforts
Even though many digital marketing channels, such as blogs, e-newsletters, and social networks, are free or low-cost, businesses that want to grow now are decisive about the effort and cost they devote to marketing. It is exceedingly difficult to raise knowledge for a new non-essential brand amid a pandemic. “We need to work harder... to ramp up quickly." Keith Phillips, CEO of realLINGUA, agrees that well-planned marketing campaigns are critical to business growth, particularly in the current environment. More importantly, businesses must track results to determine what is and isn't working.
Support your community and workforce
According to a recent American Association of Advertising Agencies survey, 56 per cent of consumers are pleased to learn about how brands are assisting in the response to the coronavirus pandemic. It's not that you need an excuse to help out in your community, but it's comforting to know that your audience is paying attention to how you're giving back. Consider how your organisation can assist local hospitals, school districts, front-line workers, and small businesses. A Forbes article talks about how companies are providing support during Covid 19. Don't forget about the most important audience – the company's employees. To get the imagination going, read this Forbes article about some innovative ways companies are assisting Covid 19. The company has to remember to include the most important audience – the employees. This is a difficult time for all businesses, but a little kindness can go a long way with the employees who are working so hard to support the company. Consider your customers' perspective when interacting with them
In the age of virtual work and store closures, social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn have become even more important for brands looking to stay connected to their customers.
Identify the target customers and pay close attention to what they're saying and doing online right now to make the most of social media. At a time when everyone is worried about their health and the economy, the company can differentiate itself by responding to the customer's current needs and concerns and addressing issues from their point of view.
Brush up on your virtual selling skills
Most businesses have moved their sales processes online, but just because someone is pitching over a Zoom call doesn't make it any less professional. Treat one virtual sales call as if they were in-person meetings, and place a premium on first impressions. Dress professionally, optimise the background and home office environment, and ensure that the audio and video are clear for effective communication. It is advantageous to provide value upfront when selling virtually. Proactively provide prospects with relevant, useful resources such as tools, guides, and workbooks. This will keep one in front of the target customers’ minds even if one doesn't want to close the sale right away, which is a challenge numerous startup companies are facing during the pandemic.
Host virtual events that will interest and educate your audience
Planning and arranging virtual events that are relevant to the needs of the business's target customers is an excellent way that can provide value whilst also reaching people in the comfort of home. Of course, because these events are becoming more common, the company must find ways to differentiate the webinar from the crowd. To entice people to participate, the company must create an interactive experience and, if funds allow, offer incentives such as giveaways and expert speakers. Finish the event with a strong call to action that will leave the audience feeling connected to the brand and eager to continue working with the company.
Stream or video chat your services
Go digital with the offerings to provide the access to the clients who are sitting home and truly wish they could help the company. Tutors, fitness trainers, and even therapists are making their services available online. To offer unique services, the company can use a free tool like Skype, or Zoom. If the work is in a service vertical that doesn't lend itself to live videos, the company should consider creating a Vimeo channel (https://vimeo.com) where customers can pay for videos with frequently requested information. Vimeo employs a paywall to charge customers for access to the content. The company may not be able to charge as much as it would for the regular services, but it will help with cash flow in the meantime.
Look to the Future
Most companies have seen those days when they wished for some extra time to plan. Now they have them! Companies have to use this time wisely to be prepared for the long term. Companies have to rethink their marketing strategy objectives and the role public relations, social media and content marketing will play to achieve them.
Marketing to the customers, pandemic or not, is always an important aspect of running a business. But how can the company continue and improve the marketing efforts during Covid-19 to benefit the company?
It can follow the following ways:
- Get a head start on the competitors by going digital..
- Find out more about the intended audience. Data is important.
- Improve business relationships by showing you care..
This is not the time to put a halt to the marketing efforts. It's the chance to be more strategic than ever before, to put oneself in the shoes of the customers. This will help you to market better to them.