Small business owners are no strangers to innovating and adapting. I’m sure you can think of a time (or two, or five!) where you had to take a step back, reassess your strategy, and pivot.
The difference this time is that we have to pivot because of an unprecedented, uncertain event: COVID-19. These are strange times when small business owners may be shuttering physical locations, having to lay off staff, and struggling with lagging online sales.
To complicate matters, marketers have to be sensitive to the emotional rollercoaster ride that everyone is on. People don’t want to be pandered to or bombarded with aggressive sales techniques.
That’s why we’re sharing 4 ways to pivot your small business marketing strategy:
Update Your Information
There’s more to communicating with your customers than posting a message on your front door and/or website telling them you’re keeping their health and safety in mind during COVID-19. Of course, that’s important—share how you’ve enhanced cleaning protocols, are keeping employees safe, and practicing social distancing, for example.
But you also need to update your Google My Business listing. When your business comes up in a Google search, so does information like your address and website, hours of operation, and so on. According to a study by BrightLocal, a typical business receives 59 actions from their Google My Business listing each month. And many customers are going to use Google to find out what changes you’ve made because of COVID-19. Your customers and potential customers are counting on you for the latest information about your small business. If you’re closing your company temporarily, changing the hours you’re open, or offering curbside pickup, let people know.
If you don’t have a Google My Business listing, getting one is an important first step! Fill out your profile with as much detail as possible, whether you’re offering delivery or have reduced the hours you’re open to lower the COVID-19 risk. You may not see the changes you make to your Google My Business listing right away, but that’s only because Google may review everything before publishing. Aside from Google My Business, check your social media accounts as well and ensure up-to-date information is found by your social followers too.
Support Your Community
We get it: You have a small business to run, and you rely on income from it to be successful. This isn’t about giving away stuff for free or letting your business suffer in order to benefit the community. But during this time, people need your support more than ever. Is there a way you could help your customers with free shipping, or put together low-cost product or service bundles? Some small businesses are hosting virtual wine nights or coffee hours to bring together customers and employees, provide networking opportunities, and keep the community feeling connected. Would this make sense for your business?
This all relates to what we mentioned earlier in the article: Your customers don’t want to feel like they’re being sold at, or that you’re using COVID-19 as a golden opportunity to increase sales. Even if your small business is doing better than ever during the pandemic, be humble and kind to the community who supports you. (Also, people are going to remember the small businesses that went above and beyond during COVID-19).
Be Flexible to Be Successful
No matter what business you’re in, it’s possible to pivot your marketing strategy to better serve your customers. For example:
Help Your Employees Adjust
According to recent stats, nearly 17 million people filed initial claims for unemployment insurance over the past three weeks. This suggests the unemployment rate is already above 15%—far above what it was at the height of the Great Recession.
Many small businesses have had to make difficult decisions and lay off staff. Even if you haven’t, how can you keep your team engaged and optimistic about the future, especially if everyone is working remotely? Here are three ideas:
I know that this is a scary time for all small business owners, who face unique challenges in the face of COVID-19. But you’ve pivoted before and will again, so stay positive, adapt as best you can, and stay connected to your community.
By pivoting your marketing strategy now, you can emerge from this experience stronger than ever. For more guidance on how to pivot and market your business during COVID-19 and beyond, visit eVision Media.