The spread of COVID-19 is impacting businesses both small and large in a way many of us haven’t seen. As of today, most businesses in America are on a mandatory 30-day shutdown, leaving small business owners wondering how they can adapt to keep their doors open in the future.
What should you be doing during this shut-down? How can you connect with your clients? Is there any way to adapt your services over the next few weeks?
After speaking with small businesses and thought leaders, I created a list of ways you can share your brand online during the COVID-19 pandemic.
What should your business do during the CoronaVirus?
1. Share your “Why”
2. Create educational content
3. Connect with your existing customers
4. Adapt your services
Share your “Why”
Blanket marketing is a thing of the past, and for good reason. Digital marketing opened the door for customers to speak back to businesses. People want to connect with brands that care about making an impact. In the book Do Good to Do Better author Sheryl Green said, “…if you’re looking to establish a positive brand for your company and forge long-term relationships with loyal customers that become an army of adoring fans, [cause marketing] is the way to go.”
If your business does not currently partner with a non-profit or cause, use this opportunity to find one that aligns with your company’s core values. COVID-19 is affecting the entire world, don’t feel limited to who you can help, focus on finding a cause that speaks to you. I reached out to Sheryl to learn what she is telling business during this time.
“Now more than ever, we are realizing the importance of community. In order to survive, we need to look at the different ways that we can support one other both in our personal lives and through our businesses. When this pandemic has passed, consumers will remember the brands who took advantage of us in our weakened state and will flock to the brands that stood by our side and found ways to contribute to our well-being.”
You can get involved in 3 easy steps:
1) Find a cause you want to support and locate a charity whose mission aligns with this goal.
2) Connect with the charity and figure out what you can contribute (this may be time, talent, or treasure)… and then do it!
3) Share this with your audience. Invite your followers to support the cause as well.
Support your community and know that when you do good, you’ll do better.
Create educational content
Making a difference in your client’s life should be a priority within your business. During this COVID-19 pandemic pivot your focus from conversion-driven content to content that educates them on ways they can care for their problems at home. Creating educational content to post on Social Media is a great way to help your clients and share your brand’s authority.
A few ways you can educate online:
– Holding live Q&A webinars through Zoom, Facebook Live, and Instagram Live
– Creating informational infographics using tools like Canva
– Step-by-step at home tutorial videos
How do you know what educational content to create?
– Make a list of the products and services you provide. Write beside each item on that list the issues clients face that cause them to use your products/services. Create a list of at-home remedies they can do to help with the issues.
– Create a poll on Facebook asking viewers what they would like to learn about.
– Use Moz free SEO tools to discover the terms and questions people are searching on Google.
Focus on building the connection with existing customers
If your business operations are currently affected, it is not the time to focus on acquiring new customers. You need to pivot your focus from customer acquisition to customer retention. The worst thing you can do for your business is ignoring your existing customers until you’re able to re-open your doors. Imagine re-opening in a month and having to re-build your existing customer base. Use your email list to open a line of communication, keeping your brand at the top of their minds.
I spoke with Theresa LaBranche, Operations Consultant, on what she is coaching businesses to do during this time.
“If there is an opportunity to capitalize on new service lines or remote services to have a new pipeline, by all means, go for it. But this should not be at the expense of losing an existing customer base, the erosion of historic revenues is a real risk and for most established companies, a bigger loss than the lost opportunity of new business. I’m focusing my established company clients on nurture campaigns to keep the existing customers engaged and loyal. These customers are a known entity with proven purchases. We want these customers to return or continue buying.”
What are the ways you can connect with your existing customers?
Educational emails – Repurpose your social media content into a format that fits for an email
Updates if your business is adapting services – Let your customers know if you plan to move your services online or ship your products.
Personal outreach to ask how each client is doing – Don’t be afraid to reach out directly to your customers and ask them if there is anything they need from you. The more personable here the better. Many email services, like MailChimp, allow you to insert personalized names into the email without having to send each email individually.
Pro tip – To increase your open rate, ask a question in the subject that can only be answered if the viewer opens and reads the email.
Create a Facebook group centered around connecting your customers and providing value to their lives. Personally invite everyone to the group and send out an email raising awareness of the group. You will see higher engagement and morale within the group as opposed to just posting content to your Facebook Business Page.
Personal Phone Calls
Social Media posts and Email Campaigns may not be enough for higher ticket clients. Create an action plan and give them a call to share the value you will provide them over the coming months.
Adapt your services
You started your business to provide value to your clients. This outbreak shouldn’t limit the value you provide. Many small businesses are moving their services online by connecting with customers through video conferencing. I connected with Dancing Dogs Yoga Greensboro, a Yoga Studio located in Greensboro, NC, that provides membership-based yoga classes. I wanted to learn how they’ve adapted with their business being shut-down.
“Our first concern was how we could immediately provide connection and value to keep members from canceling. We started holding Online Live Yoga Classes via Zoom, and our clients’ response has been amazing. Out of 210 memberships, we have only lost 5,” said Libby, owner of Dancing Dogs.
When asked what advice she would give business owners during the COVID-19 outbreak, Libby said, “Identify the most important aspect of your business and dial in on that. We’ve given up retail, new student outreach, and private corporate yoga classes. Dial into the aspects that are most valuable to your customers and what’s most valuable to your bottom line.”
Online Tools you can use
Zoom – Enterprise video conferencing with real-time messaging and content sharing.
Loom – We’re on a mission to empower everyone at work to communicate more effectively wherever they are.
Creator Studio – Facebook’s Creator Studio allows you to create, schedule, and measure all of your Facebook and Instagram posts. They recently added the ability to schedule Instagram content which has been a huge time saver.
Canva – Easily create beautiful designs + documents. Use Canva’s drag-and-drop feature and professional layouts to design consistently stunning graphics.