There is no doubt that the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic will far outlive the virus itself. The past few months have been confusing, frightening and uncertain. But through it all, there have been huge acts of kindness and boundless positivity. For entrepreneurs and small businesses, it has been an extremely difficult situation to read and to know how to conduct business, leaving many asking the same questions. There seems to be a feeling of guilt for those companies still doing business but you are not profiting from a pandemic, you are powering through and helping your business to survive.
Here we’re going to offer some advice on some of the most common questions business owners are asking and the challenges they are facing.
should I lower my prices?
This is a knee jerk reaction, you shouldn't lower your regular prices because it will be very difficult to recover from in the future and may devalue your products or brand. In place of lowering prices, offer alternatives to regular offers such as packaging offers and discounted rates for a series of services. Your focus should be on helpful service and products, focus on the pain points of your clients and partners as your guiding light. Always remember that whatever decisions you make now should have a future-facing focus that asks, "How will this impact my business when the new normal emerges"?
HOW DO I MARKET WITHOUT LOOKING TERRIBLE?
How your customers perceive you during this time is a big concern for businesses. Will reputations be damaged if you’re perceived to be benefiting from a pandemic? Possibly, but there are ways to continue marketing that are thoughtful and sensitive. Be empathetic first, think about what it feels like to be in your prospect’s shoes. Be a problem solver, not a product pusher, a pandemic should not be used as a sales tactic i.e. "We will donate $1 for every purchase" etc. Don't be afraid of marketing, you're a business working to survive should respond favourably.
Is it bad to make money during this pandemic?
Mass unemployment, mass business closures and no certainty of when things will return to business as usual is understandably a cause for concern and a source of guilt for businesses who are still open and making money. However, it is definitely not wrong to be working, billing and making money during a pandemic. If you can safely and efficiently run your business during a pandemic then more power to you! Creating a plan to be a sustainable business is a strength, not a weakness. Entrepreneurs and small business owners are hard-wired to survive and you are allowed to survive. As discussed, empathy is an extremely important consideration, there are ways to put yourself and your offerings out there without being insensitive. Plus, now more than ever, consumers are switching their focus to shopping local and supporting small businesses.
Is there a high impact and low-cost marketing strategy for this uncertain time?
The power of social media has long been lauded by marketers and during a pandemic, it can be a powerful tool to keep your brand in front of consumers. Make a push on social media to stay top of mind, post often and authentically and be mindful of what kind of content gets your audience excited and what time of day they are most often engaging with your posts. Email marketing to your existing database, and continue to grow your subscriptions through your website and social media; right now, people have more time to read and engage. Existing relationships are also a useful tool; ask family and friends to share your content and social posts to reach a broader audience. As people are looking for more to read and entertain themselves, create content. Show your audience why they should trust your expertise with blog content. These should be helpful, not sales-driven. Creating blogs will also give you more content for email and social posts so it’s win-win.
HOW DO I QUICKLY CREATE E-COMMERCE SALES WHEN IT'S NEW FOR MY BUSINESS?
We’ve seen a lot of our clients take the leap into e-commerce in order to continue to do business during the pandemic. Getting started is easy as e-commerce platforms such as Shopify are user friendly with great support. Generating sales for a new channel is where the challenge lies. Again, social media has to help. Leverage these channels, always making sure that your posts link back to the product for sale on your site. Use social PPC; build out a few audiences, customize the offering for your target demographic, use a lookalike audience if you have a good-sized existing email database and try out a retargeting campaign (Shopify has the ability to set up retargeting from the back end of your online shop). Keep your existing customers in the loop, send frequent emails to your database featuring products. The more frequent your emails, the fewer items you need to feature per email. Don’t overwhelm customers with options, make the content attractive and engaging enough for them to click through and they will explore on their own.
These are just a few of the questions being asked while businesses try to navigate this new marketplace. It is uncharted territory but the challenges we face today can create opportunities for the future. The way in which businesses are adapting and innovating can only result in them coming out the other side even stronger and perhaps even have more meaningful and engaging relationships with their customers.