Nobody really knew what to expect this year, and regardless of what industry you do business in, the pandemic changed things. Being able to adjust appropriately is a must, and while that might sound impossible, we’ve all learned nothing is impossible these days. Here’s how to ensure your small business comes out on the other side of the pandemic happy and healthy.
Stay in Touch
Did you close the doors of your brick and mortar to ride out the first wave of COVID-19? While it might be the time to shelter-in-place — or perhaps you’re gradually reopening your doors — now is not the time to do things quietly. Keeping in constant contact with your clientele assures them that you’re still interested in their needs, and it reminds them that when things are returning to normal, you’ll be there for them.
For instance, with work shifting to homes, and many people furloughed, Sprout Social points out that social media use shifted. It might be time to reevaluate your strategies, and if social media isn’t already part of your marketing plan, definitely give it some thought. Some statistics indicate use is up 20 percent — no small consideration, given how popular it was even before the pandemic. Explore the many platforms out there, meshing the right ones with your outreach.
Decide on Your Message
One of the things that might be holding you back from reaching out to your customers is knowing what to tell them. Perhaps you’re afraid acknowledging trouble will amplify it, or you’re afraid to get caught up in some of the heated discussions surrounding the pandemic.
The reality is that your customers are intimately aware of the situation, and you’re sending a message whether you send one directly or not. By not acknowledging the pandemic, you might imply you don’t care, or that you’re closing your doors and fading away. This is your opportunity to control the impression you make, so make it wisely.
Send a message that is clear and forward-thinking. For instance, you can give a shout out to members of your community who are healthcare professionals, truck drivers, or retail workers who have remained on the front lines throughout the lockdown. Choose to be hopeful and a positive influence, and steer clear of focusing too much on situations or statistics that are changing rapidly so that your message remains strong.
Choose Your Goals
Marketing is just one oar to keep in your business’s waters right now. Think about your overall business goals and what you’re doing to achieve them, especially in light of the circumstances. Do you need to adjust how your business is spending? Will you need to invest in products or equipment to meet CDC guidelines for safe reopening? And always ask yourself, what do you need to do in order to reach those goals?
Reflect on Resources
Talking about reaching goals is one thing, but with a pandemic and struggling economy, actually figuring out practical means to reach them is another. It’s easy to get discouraged right now, especially if you’re experiencing trouble with cash flow. With that in mind, contemplate potential resources to provide the shot in the arm your business might require. Of course there are loans, but there are also grants and funding options available which you can apply for through the government as well as through corporations.
Don’t forget you have people to connect with as well. Many other business owners are struggling, so The Philadelphia Inquirer notes it’s an ideal time to have some relevant conversations. Reinforce your personal brand and don’t be afraid to drop a sales pitch now and then. You may want to join forces for an online event or reopening gala. Keep focusing on the future so you’re shaping goals that are applicable and meaningful.
The pandemic has altered things dramatically, and while it means big changes and reevaluations, it doesn’t mean life isn’t plugging along. Shift your strategies to fit with the times, and keep your connections with customers and other businesses strong. The reality is that things are tough, but it also is that we really will get through it if we do so together.
Contributed by: Marcus Lansky