It feels as is the entire world is on lockdown these days, and that is not an exaggeration. Just turn on the news, and you will hear about another country enacting travel restrictions, ordering businesses closed and asking everyone to remain in their homes.
For those trying to run a small business, they are indeed in uncharted territory as something like this has never happened in modern times. The last time it felt as if the entire world was shut down might have been during the Black Plague at the end of the Dark Ages.
But this doesn’t mean that you should feel like there is nothing you can do. Besides cutting costs, there are also a few steps you can take to make sure customers still know where to find you.
With that in mind, here are nine marketing ideals to weather the COVID crisis. Hopefully, these ideas will help you find ways to adapt and overcome the challenges you are facing today.
1- Take Full Advantage of Help and Support
Unlike previous financial crises, governments in many countries have rushed to roll out relief packages for small businesses. While these packages might be perfect, they do represent the best efforts of the government to offer support to your business.
As such, you should apply for programs such as the Payroll Protection Program and SBA Disaster Relief Loan in the U.S. or the local equivalent in your country. Private companies are also offering support for small businesses. For example, Facebook has set up a program to hand out $100 million in marketing credits to small businesses, and Google has unlocked certain premium features to help users take full advantage of Hangouts and other tools.
2- Become a Source of Knowledge for Your Customers
Not only is the COVID-19 disease very contagious, but so is the fear which often accompanies it. While you don’t need to go into journalism, you should consider setting up a “news feed” for your customers.
This might include information about your business and the efforts you are taking to overcome the recent challenges and simultaneously provide support to the community. Such a step can go a long way to expanding your base and will help your business to be a source of knowledge by your customers.
3- Connect to Trending Topics in Ways that Make Sense
A great example of this is Rex Chapman. For those who don’t remember, he was a basketball player in the 90s. These days he is better known for sharing heartwarming clips on social media. These clips have gained a massive audience, and many of them go viral shortly after he shares them.
While you might not be able to garner a twitter following in the tens of thousands, you can find ways to share trending topics that align with your brand. For example, if you are running a restaurant, you might want to share a new recipe that would help people stuck at home, make nourishing meals without spending a lot of money. Or, you might want to share contact information regarding local food banks who might be looking for donations during this time of need.
4- Offer Something of Real Value Now
Yes, your business is hurting today; but the reality is that many of your customers are also hurting. As such, find ways to offer something of real value now. This sharing will pay dividends in the long run as your audience will see you and your business as a trusted part of the community – this will translate into sales down the road; just have faith.
5- Let Everyone Know You Are Still Open
In a time like this, it might be easy for your customers to assume that your business is closed after all just about every company is. But it doesn’t need to be this way, and you need to remind your customers that you are still open for business; if you don’t, they might go somewhere else.
6- Look for Strategic Partnerships
If you are operating in a highly affected industry, i.e. travel, entertainment etc. you might not be allowed to operate. This is probably the best time to look for strategic partners. For instance, cinemas partnering up with other content based services to keep the prospects engaged during the crisis and rolling out full fledged partnerships afterwards.
A travel and tour operator can partner up with the online content creators and curators and send a weekly update to customers. Or may be they can get connected to locals in various destinations for virtual tours.
There can be hundreds of options depending on nature of business… all you need is to de stress yourself and think with a clear mind.
7- Invest Now
This might seem counterintuitive, but you want to invest in your message now. For example, if you are running a local labor organizer, you might want to invest in union stickers now. While many of your members or prospective members might be furloughed at the moment, you need to get your message out as things will recover, and you want to invest in making sure you will be in a position to make the most of the opportunity.
8- Run Small Experiments
While you want to invest, you don’t want to jump in blindly – after all, cash is king, especially in a crisis. As such, you want to run small experiments to see what works and what doesn’t work for your business. This could include video conferences or creating short videos that you can use to market your business, or it could be content marketing.
Also, you could experiment for hours for senior shoppers or even delivery options. Start small, see what works, and then grow from there.
9- Optimize and Repeat
Don’t think about your marketing as a one-off. Instead, look for opportunities to optimize and repeat. This could include looking at your website and how you attract visitors or ways to make the most of the content marketing you’ve already done. Either way, you want to look for ways to stretch every dollar that you spend.
10- Have a Recovery Plan
The news might be bad now, but this too shall pass, and you want to make sure you have a plan to hit the ground running when things get going again. While you might not have a million bucks in your bank account, you do want to make sure you are in a position to make the most of the resources you do have – this includes your resourcefulness.
Finally, stay home (if you can) and stay safe.