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Audrey van Petegem
Each day COVID-19 continues to change the way we do business. That means that small businesses need to move quickly to make changes to survive and keep services relevant during this period of uncertainty. Self-isolation is forcing us to adapt to how we execute our business plan. To keep your business afloat you need to continue to ask these questions: “How do we stay relevant?” “How can we continue to retain current clients?” and “How do we reach potential new clients?”
Companies need to stay connected to customers in a variety of ways. Below are some ideas for products, services, and businesses to respond to each question posed above:
How to stay relevant?
1) Have a product to sell?
Have people order on-line
Offer free shipping
Offer drop off to door locally
Offer call in orders and leave outside the door
2) Do you offer a service?
Replace in-person appointments with video conferences
Do Facebook Live for sharing your expertise (a local yoga studio started a Facebook Group page for their students where they offer live classes)
Give webinars to run a class (a spiritual leader is offering a four-week course for those suffering from loneliness)
On Twitter? Have a Twitter party using an #
Add another service that may be relevant during self-isolation
3) Do you have a non-essential business?
Offer gift certificates
Start a monthly club (gift of the month, dinner of the month, etc)
Offer your business in a creative way. A great example is a local photographer offering to take family photos in front of their homes. Each photoshoot last five minutes and the photo will be delivered digitally
Post videos of the inside your store and show products you carry
Have a contest or an online giveaway. These can be ongoing and specific to Facebook, Instagram and even in your e-newsletter
Do surveys. This is a great way to do some market research
How to retain clients/customers?
Do you have an email list? This is key to retaining customers and clients. Offer words of wisdom. Give them support because we all know we need it at a time like this! And don’t be afraid to ask for support yourself. Ask them to purchase gift certificates (feel free to offer a $20 gift certificate and add another $5 for free or any other small giveaway.) If you do not have an email list then go through your emails and start populating an email list in a service like MailChimp. If you do this initially send a welcome e-mail reinforcing that they can opt-out if they do not want to receive emails from you. Continue to keep them updated regularly.
How do we reach potential clients?
Use social media
You probably find yourself more on your computer or phone these days. It doesn’t take much to figure out that you are probably not the only one. This is the perfect opportunity to post more on your social media platforms. The key is to give, give, give. People are ‘hungry’ for any information that will educate, make them feel good, and give them something to do. This is the perfect time to start engaging with people online and starting a good foundation for loyalty.
If you are going to offer discounts it is worth boosting those posts to make it more effective. More people are on Facebook and Instagram trying to stay connected so chances are your post will have a bigger audience. Remember what do people like to do when they are bored? Shop!
Do you have a favourite product, business, or service? Support them by reposting their offers to your followers. Chances are they will reciprocate and their followers will then discover your business.
Join online groups
Join online local bartering groups, or ‘give a hand’ groups on platforms like Facebook. You may be giving away free services or products but consider it part of your marketing budget plus you may get something in return!
Send press releases to media outlets and local influencers, updating them on what you are offering or how you are offering your services, product or brand. Make it newsworthy. Offer a big take away or something free. The media is looking for any feel-good stories right now. This is free marketing and even if you are giving away something for free it is still part of your marketing budget.
Write what you are an expert in
This is an opportunity to build yourself up as an expert in your field. This can be done on your website, on LinkedIn or start a new platform and post on Medium. Send this to your followers via the e-newsletter and posting on your social media platforms.
These are just some ideas to get you started. The key is when you think of retooling your marketing strategy during this unprecedented situation always go back to the cycle of marketing (reach, engage, convert, act, and retain) and how each action you do is assisting you to reach your marketing goals. Did I miss anything? Feel free to share what you are doing.