The COVID-19 pandemic has put a lot of strain on all businesses around the world. In fact, most cities in North America have ordered a mandatory lockdown with only essential businesses allowed to stay open. Obviously, the lockdown won’t be around forever, and business will get back to normal eventually; however, in the meantime, business still needs to go on in these uncertain times.
How Some Companies Are Adapting to Crisis
Most large organizations have already adopted quickly. Ads on television and online were abruptly pulled and replaced with marketing material that speaks to the situation we are currently in.
For example, large food and beverage chains like McDonald’s and Subway have changed their marketing to focus heavily on delivery, something that they didn’t really do before the pandemic. Ford, on the other hand, is running television ads with a clear message that they are here for you in these uncertain times.
Of course, large organizations have deep pockets that can absorb any downturn, but even they are feeling the pinch. So what about the small to medium-sized businesses?? What can your average 1 to 50 or 50 to 200 employee company do in times like these?
In this article, I will breakdown a few marketing and general business tactics that can help any small to mid-sized business ride out this pandemic. With these tactics, your business could potentially be in a better spot than when we went into this.
Rethink Your Marketing Strategy
Now is the best time to rethink or re-assess your marketing strategy. In fact, adapting your marketing or sales strategy can help your business succeed, even in times like this. Currently, most people are stuck at home, they can’t go anywhere, and they likely have a lot of time on their hands.
The primary questions you need to ask yourself are, “How can I reach potential customers at home” and “How should I adapt my marketing to target them?”
For example, due to the mandatory COVID-19 lockdown in Alberta, all preschools, daycares, and kindergartens are closed. Parents, whether they can work from home or not, are struggling to keep their kids happy and entertained.
Online Educational Videos Are Surging
So how do the child education centers adapt to this? A great idea is to go online. In fact, I’ve now seen multiple preschools offer online classes to keep the kids busy while the parents can continue their work at home. This is an excellent example of how small businesses that “can” quickly adapt and still generate revenue in these uncertain times.
Another example is fitness centers. As people stay home, they want to still keep in shape, but as we all know, working out at home can be tough. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, many fitness centers from kickboxing to yoga are offering free online classes to help their customers and potentially reach a new consumer base.
A Few Quick Takeaways:
- Now more than ever is the time to rethink your marketing strategy. Get your digital marketing up to par, even if it requires you to redesign your website.
- Adapt to your current situation. Perhaps it’s time to move your servers to the cloud and allow your employees to work from home.
- Consider all the ways your business can reach people at home.
- Embrace online technology. If you haven’t yet, now is the time to do so, it will help you guaranteed!
Your Online Presence
Most of my time goes to helping small, medium, and large businesses improve their marketing and online presence. Since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, I’ve seen a significant increase in online marketing demand. Companies (especially retail & restaurants) realize that the best way to target their audience is by investing money in their online presence and overall digital marketing.
Facebook ads, pay per click advertising, and YouTube videos are just some of the options available to you to get your message and business in front of viewers faster. These are all steps in the right direction. However, online marketing can be cumbersome if you don’t know what you are doing. I always advise people that they should team up with a marketing agency that can help them plan and architect a great robust marketing solution.
With that said, not all marketing agencies are created equal. Always make sure to do your homework before signing up with any agency. Scanning through online reviews and customer testimonials is the best way of getting your ideal digital marketing partner.
Tips On Selecting Your Ideal Marketing Agency:
- As mention above, scan through all previous customer reviews and testimonials on both Google My Business and UpCity. Make sure to go back from the beginning.
- Pinpoint three agencies you feel would fit you best. Give them a call and have a casual conversation about what you are planning on doing or what you need help with.
- Ask for pricing. Now here’s where things are interesting. If they give you pricing on the initial phone call, then I would suggest you move on. See, providing an accurate estimate on the phone is extremely hard to do. Especially if you don’t have a clear breakdown of the potential business model, objectives and short to long-term goals.
- Request an introductory meeting at their offices. Make sure to meet the team. Get to know the people you are going to work with.
- Finally, don’t go for the cheapest option! Go for the agency you felt most comfortable with. Pick the agency you connected with that made you feel special.
A Few Quick Takeaways:
- Not all marketing agencies are created equal.
- Scan through all reviews & testimonials from old to new.
- Don’t go for the most affordable marketing agency. Go for the agency that stood out.
- Make sure to meet the team. This will allow you to get a feel for the agency.
- Get a full breakdown of the entire project from start to finish, including terms and conditions. For example, go through milestones, deadline dates and, most importantly, ask who owns the intellectual property once the project is completed.
Consider Setting Up Shop, Virtually.
E-commerce has been around for a while now. Most of us are used to it, especially when it comes to Amazon or Costco online. Creating or setting up and e-commerce platform is relatively straight forward for most small businesses.
There are a few pre-made platforms out there that can help you spin up an e-commerce site in no time. Would it work the way you want it to work? Probably not. I highly recommend you get yourself a web development company that can help. In most cases setting up an e-commerce site like Shopify, for example, can be daunting. You might spend more time trying to fix things than getting it up and generating revenue.
If you’re planning on investing in an online store, make sure to have a sizeable marketing budget and plan that can help you promote your new online store.
Social Media Can & Is Playing An Important Role
I’ve been following a local bakery on Instagram for many years now. A few years back, the owner of this bakery requested an estimate from us. However, he never decided to move forward with investing money in his online presence. Every day I see him and his team posting multiple photos on Instagram of all the daily freshly baked goods.
I’ve noticed that his bakery has quite a large following on Instagram, much more than most small businesses. However, since the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve seen several small businesses grind to a complete stop. Luckily, this bakery is still managing, thanks to his large social media followers. However, can you imagine how well he would’ve been prepared if he decided to invest in an e-commerce platform?
A Few Quick Takeaways:
- If you sell products to consumers, then an e-commerce platform is the way to go.
- Let a web development company assist you in setting up your e-commerce platform.
- Make sure to invest in online advertising once you have your online store up and running.
- It’s never too late to create an online store.
Be Online and Be Found
While this is an unprecedented time and not something anyone saw coming, it shows why it is more important than ever to have a solid presence.
Many people are spending this time lining up renovation contractors for after the pandemic or are looking for a great tattoo artist. Whatever your business is, if you are not online now, you could be missing out.