There is so much information floating around regarding COVID-19: how to avoid it, proper hand-washing techniques, practising social distancing, what to do if you get the virus and more. But outside of personal concerns, there are added professional concerns for small business owners trying to minimize the financial impact on their businesses during this time.
If you’re a small business owner, you probably have additional questions like this:
• How is COVID-19 going to affect my business?
• How should I market my business during this time?
• Should I even market my business during this time?
At times like these, some businesses have a tendency to pull back or stop their marketing altogether (like your competitors!) while the smartest businesses use it as an opportunity to get ahead. You have two options as a business owner:
• Embrace being a victim, pause all advertising efforts & brace for little to no results.
• Take your business by the horns and maximize this opportunity to get ahead!
You may be asking yourself the question, “How do I market my business through the Coronavirus?”
Marketing strategies that you can utilize
• Social Media Marketing – People are spending more time online now more than ever. With so many adults working from home, kids taking classes at home and people, in general, trying to stay in as much as possible during the Coronavirus, people are glued to social media right now!
With increased reach, engagement and time spent on social platforms, why would a business owner choose now to pause their social media efforts? Put your brand in front of where your target audience is already scrolling.
• Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – Given the nature of your business, is it common for consumers to Google search the product or service you provide? If so, SEO is a process that can help your website appear in the top rankings on a search results page.
• Email Marketing – As a business owner, are you ever really done learning about your audience? Is there ever a good time to stop building relationships with potential customers? Whether you’re B2B or B2C, email marketing can be a great way to connect with your clients.
• Social & Google Advertising – When business slows or uncertainties arise like they are now, it’s a common reaction for business owners to want to stop all advertising efforts. Why continue spending money if consumers aren’t actively purchasing as much, right?
For consumers that aren’t spending as much now, they will later as soon as normalcy resumes, and who do you think they’ll purchase from? A business they spent all of COVID-19 learning about and familiarizing themselves with- not companies they didn’t see or hear about at all. Advertising on social media and Google keeps your brand relevant and in front of your target audience so that when they are ready to purchase, they purchase from you and not your competitors.
Tips for how to execute marketing efforts during COVID-19
• Use Relevant Hashtags – Heightened social media use is happening during this time. One way to maximize that reach on social media is by using relevant hashtags. This extends your reach while also portraying your brand in a credible light, as one that is current and up-to-date with the modern consumer.
Some good hashtags to get you started might include #StopTheSpread, which is in reference to stopping the spread of COVID-19. A more lighthearted hashtag is #JOMO which stands for the joy of missing out. This is a playful replacement of the usual #FOMO which is fear of missing out; people are using #JOMO as a way to embrace cancelling plans and staying indoors for the time being. Another hashtag is #SocialDistancing which encourages people to take a break from socializing in person with others as a means to stop the spread of COVID-19.
• Be mindful of how your business fits into the big picture – Think about what your business offers as it relates to the general public and the Coronavirus. Is there anything you could do differently? For example, many restaurants (which depend on in-store foot traffic to make money) are closing their dining halls and instead offering delivery options.
This presents their brand in a responsible light to the public while still giving them the means to make money that’s helpful and convenient for their customers. Let them know you’re doing your part to end COVID-19 and that you’re still here to help them. Consumers will appreciate your communication and your acknowledgement to the world outside of your industry.
Benefits of continuing marketing efforts through COVID-19 –
• Get ahead of competitors –Anything you do now that your competitors are not doing is putting you ahead. Think of it like a race. Even if you’re running slow, you’re still lapping everyone who’s sitting on the couch!
• Learn more about your target audience – It’s always beneficial to learn more about your customer base. What are their pain points? Their buying behaviours? What motivates them to purchase? The more you understand about them outside of their demographics, the more strategic you can be in creating content that converts them into customers. Your research can equip you with the ability to create content that addresses their specific needs. You can position your product or service as a solution to your audience’s specific problems. Taking this time to learn more about your customer base will allow you to be strategic in the language and imagery you use in your content moving forward.
• Build relationships with potential consumers – Whether you’re a B2B company that needs to nurture leads or a B2C company that needs to “warm-up” potential customers, every business can benefit from guiding potential customers through the sales funnel. Why let this time go to waste? Use this time wisely to build real relationships with your potential customers and convert them into paying customer.
• Capitalize on customers ready to purchase now – So many businesses are temporarily closing down for COVID-19, narrowing down the public’s options of where they can turn to for goods and services. If you’re open to business, let people know! Continuing to market your business through the Coronavirus can be as simple as letting customers in need know that you’re here, you’re open and you can provide your product or service like usual.
• Set yourself up for success post COVID-19 – This is probably the most important benefit of them all. At some point, the Coronavirus will pass. When that time comes, do you want to be starting from scratch with your marketing again? Or do you want to be leaps and bounds ahead of the competition, building on the efforts you’ve already put in for the past few months? We know that most business owners are long-term-minded anyway, so don’t let the Coronavirus deter you from that forward-thinking mindset.
Now is not the time to stop marketing efforts, it’s the time for you to be even more strategic in implementing them! We’re taking our own advice and so are our clients, and so far all we’re seeing is more results. Some of our clients are even seeing double the amount of results as usual!
“Stay home, stay safe” has now become the new-age mantra at a time when the world is grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic. As each of us strives to embrace this ‘new normal’ and get on with life while confined to our four walls, the digital world once again reassures us that technology transcends all physical boundaries and restrictions.
While these are testing times not only for individuals but also for companies and businesses, the corporate sector continues to function and fulfil its objectives by means of online platforms. And amidst all the social distancing, companies are still maintaining their associations with their loyal clients through social media platforms like Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook.
Following are the major reasons why social media platforms are proving to be useful for businesses –
• Brand Building and Awareness: As a majority of individuals are resorting to the online world to stay connected as well as for a much-needed respite from the situation, this is the perfect time for brands to establish themselves in the minds of their target audiences and carry out innovative campaigns. More active users on social media make it easier for brands to attract the attention of the masses and drive them to purchase their products. This significantly contributes to driving sales for the company.
• Retaining Existing Loyal Customers: In this lock-down phase where most products and services except for the most essential ones have been relegated to a standstill, social media platforms help companies to retain their loyal customers while also striving to make a mark on the relevant potential ones. This allows them to target the existing as well as new audiences towards their products and increases the sales turnover.
• More Innovative Campaigns and Strategies: Since the whole world is faced with this sudden and harrowing crisis, brands that continue to strike a personal chord with their consumers and express their support in these difficult times are more likely to be remembered and cherished even after this phase passes. Thus, this is a good time for businesses and brands to spread love and goodwill via their innovative social media campaigns and interactive posts. Social media features such as stories with opinion polls, interesting quarantine challenges and posts with a personal touch help brands to support their consumers in the best ways possible.
Social media marketing agencies across the board are helping their clients to increase their visibility on social media platforms even at a time when the offline world has come to a halt. This helps them to establish their relevance to their target groups and reassure them that they remain dedicated to providing the best quality services and products, even during these difficult times. Most importantly, even as the lock-down is gradually relaxed, it helps companies to not only sell their products but also increase their sales and earn significant profits.
Of course, when the restrictions are lifted the initial reaction of many will be to jump offline and do things that they couldn’t before – visiting friends and family, visiting museums and theatres, returning to pubs, restaurants, sports grounds, places of worship, gyms and libraries. However, digital marketers should be aware that many economists expect the recovery to be gradual, rather than a strong rebound.
However, it is likely that for many, using the internet more for shopping, gaming, keeping in touch and other activities will have become something of a habit. In addition, it could well be that consumers emerge from the crisis with some very different priorities, values and attitudes – all of which could impact how they want to spend their time and money.
For these reasons, it is important for marketers to research how consumer habits are changing. The growth of eCommerce and the use of the internet has already been a major feature of life and economics, but this crisis may serve to accelerate that growth.
This means that the importance of digital marketing – already crucial for small firms that have seen traditional marketing bring ever weaker returns on investment – will be even greater during and after the COVID 19 crisis. As the world goes increasingly digital, so will marketing. What marketers need to do is respond with updated strategies and buyer personas for a different, post-pandemic world.