Small Business Marketing During and After the Coronavirus Crisis
Read our 7 small business marketing and customer acquisition strategies to obtain more business during and after the coronavirus pandemic.
Has the coronavirus crisis derailed your customer acquisition strategy? According to recent studies, this serious outbreak has negatively impacted a great number of small businesses. Meanwhile, even more expect crisis-related obstacles in the near future. On the other hand, some smaller companies have made savvy plays to help maintain and even increase business in the future. Learn how the COVID-19 outbreak has affected American companies and which small business marketing ideas can help you acquire new customers and retain your existing ones.
The coronavirus outbreak impact on American small businesses
The National Federation of Independent Businesses published a study of hundreds of small businesses on March 13, 2020. The report found that almost one-quarter of U.S. small businesses had already felt a negative impact. At the same time, about 43 percent of business owners said they predicted a negative impact in the future. Another 37 percent of respondents could not predict ramifications, and only 20 percent of the business owners believed that their business, at least, would have immunity to the virus.
The business owners who reported negative impacts from the coronavirus outbreak mostly had these kinds of problems:
- Supply chain disruptions: 39%
- Slow sales: 42%
- Ill employees: 4%
Again, this survey occurred close to the middle of March, so reactions to the virus had not yet peaked. As the weeks have passed, stay-at-home orders have grown stricter and more common. Even so, just about half of employers who had not yet felt an impact said they had already planned ahead to minimize risks to their business.
Some examples of these measures included purchasing more supplies to improve store, worker, and customer in-store hygiene, working with employees on sick leave policies, allowing more remote work, and arranging for alternative distributors for supplies. The survey did not mention ways that small businesses might adapt their marketing customer acquisition strategy during and after the coronavirus.
How to get more business for my small business during and after coronavirus?
Are you asking how you can keep your business running during the coronavirus and emerge even stronger afterwards? At this time, stay-at-home orders affect almost every part of the country to some degree. Even without them, you will probably see fewer customers who want to visit your store or office. You may even find that the demand for any non-essential products or services you offer has declined.
With all this in mind, the obvious conclusion is to ramp up your digital business. If you don’t conduct much business digitally, you could hardly find a better time to start. Consider these digital small business marketing ideas:
Digital Trends pointed out that a number of small businesses have scrambled to take more of their business online during the crisis. As an example, Bonnie Morales owns a small Russian restaurant in Portland, Oregon. Previously, she had no online options to order online or get curbside takeout. She had to close her dining room and layoff staff on a Sunday, decided she needed online ordering on the next Monday, and managed to get basic features live by Tuesday.
While Morales worked very quickly, she said she knew she had lost customers who may have looked for online ordering options previously. She promoted her new curbside delivery and online ordering on such social sites as Instagram, which luckily, she had already established. Other local stores and restaurants have followed this trends. Without an established eCommerce site, the businesses make simple platforms that post menus or list items for sale, and they may simple take orders and collect payment by phone. Small businesses may offer curbside pickup or various delivery options.
Obviously, small businesses can benefit by having more feature-rich eCommerce platforms and of course, digital marketing platforms. During this crisis, these companies might start with the minimum they need to get online and then work on improving both their digital services and marketing as they go.
Explore platforms that allow you to communicate with your customers, even when they don’t care to visit you in person. You can find plenty of visual chat and meeting apps that will let you give presentations, answer questions, and provide customer service in almost the same way you could do in person. Even doctors and therapists are turning to online appointments when possible these days, and so are insurance agents and attorneys.
If you haven’t paid much attention to your small business social profiles on sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, it’s certainly a good time to get started. If you run a B2B company, you might focus on LinkedIn. No matter what, this is a good time to connect with your market and encourage your employees to do the same.
As to the kind of content you should post, you might take a cure from similar companies that hope to maintain their business and brand during these challenging times:
- First of all, let people know they can still buy from you online or over the phone. As one ice cream shop owner said, “We have to shout it from the rooftops.” Work on building your connections, so as many people as possible will see your message. On social sites you can search for the kinds of groups that you are likely to appeal to.
- Let your community know how you maintain a safe, healthy business to protect yourself, your employees, and of course, your customers. Not only will you help reassure anxious customers, you will enhance your brand.
- Work hard to build personal connections by explaining how your business and employees need their support in order to survive and thrive. Get creative with your offers to adjust them for delivery or pickup options.
- Consider ways you can give back to the community by supporting hospitals, first responders, and residents. Not only can you support worthy causes, you can promote your good deeds on your own website and social platforms, and very often, the organizations and people you support with give you a bit of social attention too.
Keep advertising online
Typically, businesses that keep promoting themselves during tough times tend to emerge stronger. According to Search Engine Journal, you should try to maintain your marketing budget as close to normal as possible. It’s just that you may adjust your customer acquisition strategy somewhat.
For example, you might not need to encourage customers to visit your non-essential, closed, physical business at the moment. At the same time, you could double down on any online ordering options you offer. Here’s the thing. You may need to reduce spending because of lost revenues; however, you can bet that many of your competitors have to do the same. During this time, you can probably find opportunities to improve brand awareness and gain new customers just because you may face reduced competition for advertising platforms, publishers, and other digital media.
Renegotiate and seek help you need
Many businesses do expect to lose revenue during this outbreak. They may suffer from distribution, productivity, and of course, revenue problems. According to the Harvard Business School blog, this is the time to figure out how to attempt to renegotiate rents, accounts payable, and even debt. During this time, landlords, banks, and creditors know about the coronavirus crisis and may already have programs in place to help. Certainly, they would rather work with small businesses as much as possible than see them close.
Also, the Small Business Administration, the government, and even private lenders have setup emergency loan and grant programs, and these could help with immediate cash flow problems. Act sooner, rather than later. Some of these programs have limited funds and provide loans or other assistance on a first-come-first-serve basis.
In addition, consider partnerships with other companies for your mutual benefits. As an example, a group of companies created a program that committed to donating a percentage of revenues to coronavirus charities. The charitable organization website includes mentions of all the sponsoring companies, and in turn, the sponsoring companies promoted the charity.
One small Texas manufacturer ran low on orders for its typical industrial products. They found they did have the materials and equipment already on their premises to begin producing face masks for healthcare workers and the public. The company quickly setup product, online ordering, and a social media campaign. In the marketing campaign, they emphasized that this effort would help the country and also help keep employees working.
If your business suffers from a low demand for it’s main products right now, consider ways that you could pivot quickly to produce something that the market will find very valuable. And then, of course, make certain you let people know about it.
Enhance your digital culture
Some kinds of small businesses have managed to stay in business because they could offer opportunities for employees to work from home. With today’s technology, customer service representatives, accountants, and other kinds of professionals can work as and even sometimes more productivity from their home office as they could at the business site. While there’s plenty of technology available and plenty of reasons to encourage remote work, make certain that you choose software and offer guidelines to keep at-home work as secure as in-office work.
Your small business response to coronavirus should be good business, too!
No doubt, many different kinds of businesses will have to struggle during the next several months. Yet, one virtue of owning a smaller business is an enhance ability to pivot quickly to meet new challenges. Even better, your stronger digital presence and the tactics you use to improve cash flow and productivity will serve your company today and for years in the future.