COVID-19 has presented a truly challenging and unprecedented circumstance to so many small businesses. Social distancing, self-quarantines, event cancelations, and even mandatory closures are wrecking havoc on just about every facet of entrepreneurship.
In the past two weeks, I’ve had countless conversations with retailers rightfully alarmed about how to continue business. Unfortunately, it’s far from business as usual. There’s no way to go on with scheduled sales, promotions and events. Everything has quickly come to a halt and the need to adjust and pivot is essential.
According to Forbes, “In the coming months, businesses are going to become more reliant than ever on their digital strategy. Without wanting to sound too alarmist, in many cases it will be the deciding factor in whether they make it through the tough times ahead.”
I’ve been working overtime to help my digital design clients stay on top of this ever-changing situation, from how and when to communicate with customers, to strategic messaging about sales and extra ways to ease the shopping experience.
While there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy, here’s some marketing rules to survive COVID-19 as a business.
1. Keep the Message Positive
As a business and community leader, do not illicit negative or fear-based messages; that’s not something you want to associate with your company – ever. Keep emails, social media, and website announcements heartfelt and helpful. Being authentic and transparent about what’s happening in your store is enough. It’s also a good idea to keep it light. Not every adjustment in your business needs an email. Save the big announcements (or a recap) for email and use your website and social media as a place for the latest updates.
2. Ease the Shopping Experience
Yes, your store is empty and with good reason. Instead of prompting customers to continue to shop in store, respect social distancing and offer free curbside pickup and shipping. Make it easy for customers to shop. If you don’t have an online store, try selling on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest. Be available via phone and chat to help customers with questions and concerns. Let them know you’re here for them.
3. Adjust the Product Focus
If you’re able, put a spin on your products to focus on health and wellbeing, self-care, and home life. This will be easy for sellers in industries like nutrition, fitness, beauty, apparel (loungewear), home decor, and office supplies. Even if you don’t sell something so directly related, get creative. For example, a retailer that sells dog collars could do a campaign on the importance of dog companionship, or benefits of walking your dog.
If you have a blog, use it to promote ways to embrace this time at home. When you know your audience, you can pinpoint what their feelings and needs are. Tap into that and become a reliable resource.
4. If You’re Not Online, Now’s the Time
Again, people are home and potentially bored. That means people will be on their phone more than usual, scrolling social media, browsing their favorite websites, and buying online. While I hope this is over within a couple of weeks, there’s no telling how long the affects will continue. Take this time to review your website and give it a refresh, or take the leap to launch your website. Online shopping isn’t going anywhere, virus or not.
The most important thing I can recommend is to not press pause on your business. Now is a time to adjust with the changes not disappear.
With the current situation, I feel a responsibility to support you during this time, and am making it as easy as possible for you to start selling your product online. Please contact me for a quick questionnaire to see if I can help you get set up and selling – like yesterday.