So I think it is fair to say most of us did not have a backup plan in our 2020 business plan for a nationwide pandemic lockdown. If you did congratulations you are ahead of the curve. If you are like most of us you are figuring out what the future of your business looks like day-by-day.
It is easy to get caught up in the panic or be paralyzed by the lack of information. Not knowing when things can start back up again is one of the most challenging things to plan for. How can you plan? Where do you start? What do you do now?
We are not claiming to know what the best course of action is, we’ve never been through a global pandemic before (obviously). But here are some tips we have given our clients. This situation is different for all businesses, we hope that some of this advice can be applied to yours.
How to Market Your Business in a COVID-19 World:
1. Start Communicating
You might be tired of getting those Coronavirus update emails, but you need to send them too.
If you are changing the way you operate during social distancing you need to let your customers know. If you are open and nothing has changed you also need to reach out, don’t assume your customers know that you are still up and running.
2. Update Everything
Don’t forget to change your hours or add notifications on your website, Google, and Yelp.
CHECK IT OUT: Google has a new COVID-19 post option in your listing so you can post updates or specials.
3. Start Advertising on Social Media (only if you are still open)
On the bright side of things, you have a lot of people with a ton of free time racking up hours a day on social media. Social ads are low-cost and could yield results if you are still up and running.
4. Start Thinking About What People Will Need When You Reopen
Focus on the future. You may not be able to keep your doors open during the social distancing orders, but you can work on developing plans and deliverables for when you can reopen your doors. What will people want? What will help them feel like things are normal again? Plan now so you can hit the ground running when the time comes.
Take a look at all the things you put on the back burner during the course of normal business. Often times we find clients put off rebranding, creating new marketing materials, and updating their website. Take this time to develop your brand and message so you can show off your new look when business picks back up.
6. Build Your Authority
If you are an expert in your field use this time to write about it, start a Facebook Group, get active on social media, create videos, and if you have a lot of time consider writing a book. People buy from experts they trust, and there is no better place to build that authority than online. Build a following now that you can reach out to when you can get back up and running.
7. Create or Clean Up Your Email Marketing List
We run into a lot of small businesses that don’t have an up to date email marketing list. If you don’t have a current email marketing list this is a great time to combine lists, go through old appointment books, sales emails, etc, to build your list.
MailChimp is our favorite platform for getting emails out, start with a free account and get your list ready.
8. Work on a New or Additional Revenue Stream
With crisis comes creativity. Many companies are finding ways to make to-go or drive-thru versions of their current products or services.
Here are a few ideas:
- Make At Home Kits
- Create Online Classes or Webinars
- Take sales online with eCommerce
- Create packages with other local companies
- Find alternate uses for your equipment or products
- Bulk Discounts: Talk to a caterer who is selling people 2-weeks worth of meals at a time
9. Plan your Reopening
Start planning what you need to do to reopen your doors. Write out a full plan, create a timeline, write the emails you will send and get your specials developed early.
10. Don’t Add to the Panic
While Purell and Clorox have had an increase in sales during this crisis, they don’t discuss COVID-19 in their marketing. While FDA restrictions block them from making claims about the coronavirus, instead they provide tips and respond on social media to ensure people are aware of the guidelines on prevention. When asked about their current marketing they responded: “What we don’t do is market with fear.”
You do not want to create a panic or add to the current situation. focus on how you can help.
11. Don’t Over Invest
While you may have time to rebrand, don’t over-invest in it right now. Find a company that can work with you by providing a payment plan so you don’t overextend yourself.
12. Don’t give Advice if You are not an Expert
Feel free to point people in the right direction, link to articles, etc. But don’t try to offer expert advice if you are not an expert in that field. Giving people poor recommendations isn’t going to help anyone.
13. Don’t Pay for Advertising if you are Closed
Turn off your paid ads if they are leading to a business that is closed. If you are locked into marketing contracts see if you can redirect funds to developing your brand, work on your reopening marketing, or put programs on pause if you can.
14. Don’t Do Nothing
Running a business isn’t easy, but it has never been easy. If you have downtime use it wisely. Reinvent your company or yourself if you need to, but don’t give up before you’ve tried.
15. Rewatch Forrest Gump
Seriously… I just rewatched this movie. If you don’t remember… Forrest is the captain of a shrimp boat called Jenny and gets caught in a storm. The storm is bad, the seas are rough, but he somehow makes it through the storm. When he gets back to shore he finds out that he has the last shrimp boat left.
Companies will go out of business, don’t let yours be one of them. If you can get through this there will be less competition when businesses reopen. Find a way to make it through the storm. Be the last shrimp boat!