Don’t Give up - Your Business Needs You
Your Friday morning networking meet-ups have been cancelled, the expo that you have been planning for months has been postponed indefinitely, and the all-important impact of face-to-face B2B connection has been put to one side. The uncertainty of the current situation following important concerns around the Coronavirus (COVID-19) means that many people are worrying for the future of their businesses. While we are seeing a new way of life emerging in the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak, many will struggle to find a new way to keep their business afloat.
But your business still needs you, and there is, perhaps, an opportunity to be creative in our efforts to stay one step ahead of the curve.
I’m not an online business, what can I do?
Almost any business can be, and probably already is, an online business in one way or another. If you have a website or social presence, for example, you’re already online. What’s more, your brand can thrive online as well as it can in the ‘real world’. It’s just a case of shifting focus. (Granted, this may be a simpler process for some than others). Often, you can utilise online platforms in order to help your business maintain interest and support. For example, if you’re in the food or hospitality industry, how about creating simple, online recipes or baking tips for people to follow while they may be self-isolating and looking for new things to try? Many restaurants and eateries are already offering online promotions for frontline staff in the NHS, and home-deliveries fort those unable to leave the house. Think about what you may be able to offer your customers by way of home-delivery or remote support. You could perhaps even involve the expertise of your staff. Set your staff challenges to make the best new recipe using only basic ingredients, create the best latte, cupcakes, DIY or textiles creations, and have your customers vote online.
The next few months will be challenging for businesses, there is no doubt. But the key is to stay motivated in the most creative and accessible ways you can and be willing to take on change.
How do I stay connected to my customers?
If you suddenly find yourself working from home, here’s where your new-found spare time can work to your advantage. Now that you’re thinking about a stronger shift towards an online strategy, the sky is your limit. Once you’re able to think of new ways to reach your target market, implementing them online is, in some ways, the easy part. This is because the world of digital marketing has always been a ‘work from home’ industry. There are currently content writers, bloggers, video creators and social media managers, all in the same boat as you. This means an opportunity on both sides. It’s time to work together.
The number one way to reach your customers is by staying present online, no matter what you are now offering them. Whether it’s new tips on home improvement, cleaning tips, financial advice, or how to entertain your kids while they’re stuck at home, the most important thing is that you reach out to them and stay consistent.
On the web: Perhaps your website needs a fresh look, or more insightful, current content and SEO that will bring people to your service/product or message. You could start a blog strategy to draw interest and keep people coming to your website for tips and tricks. Or you could write informative articles that tie into the current situation – drawing on your own experiences and sharing insights with others.
Social-connection while social-distancing: Take advantage of your online social platforms; invite people to get to know more about your brand and what it stands for. Be honest and transparent about the current challenges we are all facing and document your efforts to carry on. Do a live stream and encourage your followers to engage and share their own experiences. Bring people together under your brand.
Video: Give people something entertaining and engaging to watch. Now, more than ever, video will be the most effective way to keep your audiences engaged. The best thing about video is that you may already have everything you need to get started. Use already captured content, such as video footage or photos from past events, and give them a new spin. Vlog about your experiences, your trials, errors, your motivations and successes; document your new way of working; create step-by-steps (recipes, DIY, budgeting tips, pet care, self-care, first aid, and so on); create useful and encouraging information as to how your customers can still rely on your business.
Ask for help
It may seem, with the empty supermarket shelves and people stockpiling unnecessary amounts of loo roll and hand-sanitiser, that everyone is suddenly out for themselves. Thankfully, that’s not the case. The vast majority of people, especially small businesses needing help and advice, are pulling together. You don’t need to look much further than the local community groups that have emerged on social media to see that we all want this to work as best we can, for everyone, for every business.
So, ask for help. We don’t just want businesses to survive rather than sink, we want them to thrive. And if your challenge is to plan new ways of reaching your customers, there are people out there who want to help.
Let’s jump on the opportunity to pull together and help each other find new ways of working through uncertain times. The only way to succeed while our businesses are self-isolating is, ironically, to stay connected. Thank goodness for the digital age.