As public uncertainty continues to mount in the wake of the global coronavirus pandemic, business owners have had to make difficult decisions in order to minimize losses.
Gatherings are being limited, restaurants are no longer allowing customers to dine in, and organizations who meet regularly have had to put activities on hold. It’s safe to say that even the most thorough SWOT analyses didn’t account for the situation we’re in now.
Although there is no proven course of action that businesses should follow in a time like this, there are a few best practices that every business owner should consider.
1. Update your audience
Even under normal circumstances, communication is key between business owners and customers. In the coming days, weeks, and months, it’s crucial to frequently provide updates in regards to changes in hours, goods or services temporarily not being offered, or special products and services you might be providing until things return to normal.
Obviously, social media channels are a great place to start. Consider doing one daily update on Facebook and Twitter and encouraging your followers to spread the word. On a platform like Instagram where daily posting is generally discouraged, utilize the story function for daily updates.
In addition to social media, review your Google My Business listing to make sure all the current information is still accurate. Some specific components of the listing to look at are:
- Hours: Have your business hours changed at all? If so, update your listing accordingly.
- Business Description: This is the little text area toward the bottom of your listing that gives a brief overview of your business. Even if you’re pressing forward with no changes, this should be mentioned so customers and potential customers are aware.
- Q & A: Google My Business has a place for users to ask questions that can be answered by other users, or the business owner. Keep an eye on this feature and respond as necessary.
2. Look for opportunities
Marketing efforts are a complicated issue in nearly all industries at the present moment and in the foreseeable future. Businesses don’t want to give the impression they’re trying to profit off the Covid-19 panic, but it’s important to remember that it’s not wrong to provide people with things they still need.
As millions of Americans are working from home, there has been an increase in overall web traffic. Simply put, more consumers are living through their computers than in any other time in recent memory. This means that the opportunity to implement effective digital marketing strategies can, and should, be explored.
Do a quick inventory of all your offerings and see which ones might be particularly useful for consumers at this time. For example, if you own or advertise for a restaurant, could you be pushing out more ads for carryout or delivery services? If you’re trying to advertise for a gym, are there online video courses you could offer that allow people to have instructed exercise in their homes?
No matter which industry you’re in, there’s a good chance you have something to contribute to the market. Find out what it is, and focus your energy and budget in that direction.
3. Engage with your audience
There’s no other way to say it – most people are going to be spending more time inside than they can ever remember. Netflix is a great friend to keep close in these times, but as social creatures, we still crave interaction.
Brands have been coming up with creative ideas that have opened up a two-way street of communication between business owners and customers. Here are a few examples of what you can implement in an effort to build trust and hold the attention of new customers:
- Live video: I don’t have specific numbers available, but it’s safe to assume video consumption as reaching an all-time high. Get in on the action by putting together a live video with you or your team. Feel free to take it in any direction you want, whether it’s looking to inform, entertain, or a combination of the two.
- Contests: Global pandemic or not, a contest on social media is always a way to generate engagement. Think of a creative way to relate the contest to the situation we’re going through, but be very careful that you don’t appear insensitive. For example, a contest that asks users to say what they’ve been doing to pass the time is good, a contest that makes light of the crisis could have an adverse impact. As always with public relations, err on the side of caution.
- Be responsive: Users are more active now than ever in terms of reaching out to brands via social media channels. Make sure you’re answering all questions to the best of your ability. Showing your audience that you’re there for them during a difficult time goes a long way in establishing brand loyalty in the future.
4. Think of the Future
It might not feel like it now, but this crisis will eventually pass. It’s important to not just tread water until that day comes, but to also use any extra time you might have to develop a plan for the future.
Numerous studies have shown that businesses who continue to advertise, or even increase advertising, during times of crisis typically come out on the other side with a larger market share than they had previously. That isn’t to say that now is the perfect time to double your marketing budget, but it certainly should serve as a warning for businesses who are considering pausing their marketing efforts altogether.
Even though revenues might not be as robust or consistent as usual, that isn’t an excuse to ignore the future. Put together a strategy for when things return to normal, and you’ll be a step ahead of many others in your industry.
As the world continues to navigate through unprecedented waters, the economic ramifications are very real. Businesses have been forced to get creative in order to reach their customers at a time when customers are stuck at home.
If you believe your business could benefit from a digital marketing consultation, get in touch today.