How to Deal with COVID-19 as a Small Business
Posted on March 15 2020
From our sister company, Trade Ideas:
Many of you have already reached out to us with company messages you would like to implement regarding policies/amended hours, etc. due to COVID-19. We are working as quickly as we can to update websites and social sites. If you haven’t already done so, and would like something in place on your website and/or social, please provide your official statement so we can be sure to include correct verbiage. We can also help you craft a message that reflects your corporate image; just let us know! Communicate with your customers honestly. Maintaining a strong and positive communication channel with your customers is vital. Let them know what steps you and your employees are taking within your business to keep everyone safe. Let them know you value their business, appreciate their needs, and will do everything in your power to meet their needs as soon as it is safe and practicable to do so.
Small Businesses across the country and world are facing lots of challenges at this time. The insecurity and fear across all industries does not come undetected and it’s felt in every office and manufacturing facility. Your goal as a business owner is to guide your company through this challenging time. It’s time to think about your business in a new way and take this time to prepare for the future. How your business deals with this global crisis in the next few weeks will determine how quickly you can resume your normal operations and be as successful as before. Here are a few steps you can take today.
1. YOUR OVERALL MARKETING RIGHT NOW
It’s not the time to come up with a new marketing campaign to boost your sales. Do not offer unreasonable sales to keep yourself busy. Understand the situation and focus on the items that are a lot more important. Companies who used a college student for their social media should rethink their strategy. This is a time when PR matters. Reach out to your local agency and see what their recommendations are at this time in your market and industry. Most of all, you don’t have to advertise right now. There will come a time for it and when the public is ready.
2. YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA
Do not try to make COVID-19 funny. Do not re-post messages about the lack of toilet paper. The worst thing to do is for your posts to be tone deaf. If you are planning to continue to use social media, use it to communicate with your customers about your operations, about the precautions you and your team are taking to assure public safety. If you own a small restaurant and just added delivery as a service to continue to serve your clients, be sure to talk about it in a positive way.
With all of the social media feeds being flooded with fearful messages and statistics, focus only on the facts and things that may help your clients make it through this difficult time. Understand your clients’ state of mind and their readiness to consume any brand advertising.
3. YOUR ONLINE PRESENCE/ WEBSITE
This might be a good time to take care of the things you have not had time for in the last few years. If your website is 5-10 years old and you have been considering an update, this would be the time to do it. When the fears pass, you will be ready to enter the market with a valuable asset. If you were considering adding online sales, this may be the time. You will not be able to utilize it immediately and create online sales within hours, but it’s a long-term investment that can change and improve your business in the future.
4. FOCUS ON YOUR EMPLOYEES
At the end of the day nothing matters more than keeping your employees and assuring they will be with you when things get back to normal. That’s certainly our small business goal. Their well-being, their families, their future and safety are our key focus. Do everything possible to keep their working environment healthy. Take advantage of any state government grants and interest-free loans to keep employees on your payroll. After all, they are your biggest asset. Be clear and honest in communicating with your employees about their future and your plans.
5. ADAPT YOUR BUSINESS IF YOU CAN
We understand that not every small business has the ability to adapt in a short amount of time. Focus on the adjustments you can make. Offer free delivery if keeping in-store sales becomes a challenge. Most of all, even a small change can make a difference so don’t be afraid to be creative. Adapt your services to the needs of the consumer. This is not the time to make the greatest sales, but it’s a time to find simple ways to keep your business going.
6. YOUR FINANCIALS
This will be a time for all businesses to watch their business spending, their supply chains and their incomes. This also does not mean everyone has to completely stop their operations. Keeping a level head and continuing to support others in their business in the key. The fact that large sports events are being called-off and gatherings are not going to happen, does not mean you will stop doing all of the things your business has done in the past. People will still need car parts, their favorite cheese to put on a salad and paper to put in their printer. Let’s all continue to support our local businesses.
7. PAUSE AND REFLECT
Think about ways you can make your business better for the future. Do machinery repairs you have been holding off on, or major warehouse organizing, implement a CRM system for managing clients. Sign up for an email campaign software. Improve your client tracking.
Don’t let any fear into your business. Stay positive for you and your employees.
8. FOCUS ON THE FUTURE
A small amount of business and brands will handle this situation the right way. Be that business. People will remember how you handled your marketing at this time. So instead of pushing your message today, focus on the future.
When things stabilize, make sure you have a good online strategy in place. This means planning Google Ads, display advertising, sending promotional postcards. If you plan for it right now, you will be ready and your transition will be a lot easier.
Most of all – to all our small business friends – stay strong. If you need assistance with any of the above steps, please don't hesitate to contact us. We are all in this together and want to be sure we come back from this better than ever!
*Excerpt from The Lion Group, Marketing News