The outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) has led the world into uncharted waters. People are taking precautions – stocking pantries at home with canned food, toilet paper, and other necessities to prepare for being quarantined at home during this health crisis.
A large per-capita infection rate in Orleans Parish, Louisiana has put BlakSheep Creative, for one, at ground zero for the coronavirus outbreak.
As a digital marketing and web agency, we’ve become concerned about not only the impact on the population but on small businesses as well.
This article will offer some tips and suggestions to help your small business and organization to mitigate the financial effects during this trying time.
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Small Business Planning for COVID-19:
Get Financially Prepared
According to Fortune, 75 percent of companies reported that the coronavirus has disrupted their supply chains. This is a warning that the virus is impacting our global economy.
What’s more, media outlets are saying this is beginning to resemble the 2008 financial crisis.
We have spoken to several financial experts and the need for major concern fluctuates.
Now is the time to get creative. Panicking will do you no good. Rather, use this time to develop your contingency plan.
As a small business owner, you access to low-interest loans guaranteed by the SBA, employer tax credit, payroll tax cut and federal income tax deferment. Learn more about the employer tax credit by visiting The New York Times.
However, economic downturns happen, and your business should always be prepared. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Avoid arbitrarily cutting your marketing budget.
- Determine your target audience’s current behavior and adapt accordingly.
- Keep up on current affairs and how it affects your customer base.
- If possible, Increase conversion rates by focusing on digital revenue.
During times of hardship, your first thought as a business owner may be to avoid spending your budgetary dollars on marketing.
But what if we told you that now, is the time to pay close attention to it.
With the world of big data, digital marketing is more important than ever? Splunk for Good has even built a publicly available interactive Splunk COVID-19 Dashboard that any individual or organization can view without any installation necessary.
According to the World Health Organization, artificial intelligence (AI) and big data played a significant role in China’s response to the virus. For example, Taiwan used big data to fight the virus.
Now is the time to use technology to monitor your audience’s behavior and adjust your marketing efforts, not squash them.
How can you do this? By using data.
You can use data for predicting who, where and when customers will buy products or services.
Therefore, instead of cutting your marketing budget, look at how you can make data-driven decisions and meet your audience with where they are – whether online or offline.
Analyze and Adjust Your Market Strategies
Building and maintaining a brand that customers trust and recognize is one of the best ways that you can reduce risk during a down economy.
Instead of making cuts to your marketing, look at where you’re spending money and the return on investment.
Be strategic about the types of marketing channels you’re using to reach your audience.
Although some marketers may suggest that you pause or stop all social media marketing and Google Adwords campaigns, we suggest you merely analyze and adjust.
As a result, your market strategies may change.
Look at the changing behavior of each consumer segment and plan accordingly.
This is a difficult time, so there’s fear, worry and stress your audience is most likely dealing with at home and work.
Connect with your audience by humanizing your brand.
How Will Social Distancing During COVID-19 Affect My Day to Day Business Operations?
Just yesterday the CDC, in accordance with its guidance for large events and mass gatherings, recommended that for the next 8 weeks, organizers (whether groups or individuals) cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more throughout the United States.
Basically, if you’re going to be around other people, don’t.
Although your business, store, school, or church may temporarily shut its’ doors, there are things that you can do to maintain business continuity during this trying time.
Keep Your Audience Informed
Whether it’s business as usual at the office or working from home, the best thing that you can possibly do during times of uncertainty or crisis is to communicate.
Keep Up With Your Social Media
Announce any changes in business hours, locations, or procedures via every one of your social media channels.
If it fits with your brand’s persona, use this time to posts some “real world” content. Be there for your customers.
Help ease their mind.
Post pictures of cute cats.
Whether people are worried or simply bored, they’ll be scrolling Twitter and Facebook like crazy.
Give them something positive to read.
Use Your Website
You’ve got a website that you’ve paid for, use it.
Whether anything has changed with your business or not, put a banner or hero image right there above the fold on your website. Be clear, concise, and direct so that you don’t leave your customers guessing.
Post On Your Blog
If you’re posting regularly on your company’s blog (as you should be), now is the time to step it up. If you’re one of those business owners who doesn’t have a company blog, now’s the time to start.
Use your blog to give your thoughts, input, and perspective about what is happening globally, as well as locally.
This not only offers some value to your customers but also lets them know that your business is human-driven and is going through the same things.
Send Out Email Blasts
Believe it or not, there are some people who aren’t on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and not everyone checks your website daily.
Another way to communicate with your customers is to simply send them an email.
You can easily and efficiently fire out hundreds of emails by using free tools that you should be using already.
Give your subscribers any changes in hours of operation, ways to reach you, service disruptions, etc.
Update Your Google My Business
You should already be updating your GMB page regularly.
Continue this process, just make sure to include all of the types of information above.
Granted, people may be less prone to use your GMB page and the map pack, but you’ll still want to keep them informed.
What To Do If Your Business Cannot Operate During the Shutdown
Content Marketing & Blog Writing
Just like we said before, you can use this time to create, educate, and inform.
Not only can you create content for the present, but you can create posts and articles that you can drip throughout the coming weeks, months, and even years.
Remember: Both search engines and readers love new content with value.
Social Media Calendar and Posting Schedule
Take the time to develop a social media schedule.
Create posts that add value and schedule them out.
You can even use a platform such as Hootsuite or Later to do all of the heavy lifting for you.
Use this downtime to create good marketing habits that pay off.
Because people are stuck at home, there will be no shortage of online broadcasting.
From webinars on Facebook live, to eLearning via Udemy, there are plenty of opportunities that you can take to further your craft.
If all else fails, or you can’t think of something specific to your industry to learn, learn something new.
Learn some tips and secrets that you can use to market your business online.
You probably already know that backlinks are huge for Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Backlinks let the search engines know who “vouches” for you, and whether or not your website has anything important to say.
Building your backlink profile takes time.
Well, if you’re stuck at home, you’ve got time to build those backlinks and boost your organic search rankings.
As you create those blog posts, articles, and content for your company, browse other niche-specific websites.
Would their readers benefit from new content?
If so, reach out to the webmaster and offer up your content. Usually, they’ll either offer you a guest posting opportunity or simply link back to your article.
Either way, you not only gain a link back to your website, but more importantly, you offer your perspective and value to their customer base, and search engines love that.
If your local business offers a unique perspective or insight on a specific subject, you can even reach out to local media outlets (newspapers, TV stations, etc.)
Not only are you working from home, but journalists are also as well. You can save them time and effort in their research, and offer valuable information to your community (and maybe even a backlink).
For most small business owners, the Coronavirus pandemic is uncharted territory.
But, much like any other crisis, if you avoid the urge to panic and keep calm you’ll come out much better.
Be prepared, keep your customers informed, and enjoy the downtime to work on your digital marketing efforts.
Louisianians are resilient. We’ve been through Hurricane Katrina and the Great Flood of 2016. We’ll be just fine.
Oh… wash your hands.
How Can we help your Small business during the coronavirus epidemic?
Let us know how we can help you during this time of crisis. We’ll analyze your customers, your competition, and join forces with you to come out of this together!