I know, I know – another Coronavirus blurb. You can’t escape it right now and the world feels like an incredibly weird place. Unless you are in the toilet roll or hand sanitiser industry, chances are you are more than just a little bit worried about the impact this is going to have on your business. Unfortunately, this outbreak will affect all types of business and no organisation will be immune to its impact. As a small business-owner myself, I was thinking of ways I could advise businesses to be as productive as possible throughout this crisis using my marketing experience and expertise. I hope you find the following helpful.
Reassure and be prepared.
Coming across as a responsible and caring business is vital in a crisis like this. The very first things you should be communicating through your marketing channels are the steps you are taking to keep your staff and customers safe. Whether it be extra cleaning or changing the way customers are served, make sure you convey to your customers how your business is going to play the part to prevent the spread of Coronavirus. Customers need to be able to trust your business with their safety in these turbulent times.
Spread kindness, not fear.
One of the best things a small business can do in times like this is support the local community. People will be relying on each other heavily over the coming months and making your business part of this is a fantastic way to show people that you care about your customers and the community you operate in. Think about creative ways you can help rather than repeatedly posting negative status updates about having to close early AGAIN with ‘sad face emoji’. Depending on your type of business, maybe you could offer to take payments over the phone and make use of volunteers to deliver products to those self-isolating? If you and your staff are quiet, perhaps they could run errands for at risk groups like picking up a prescription or the essentials from the local supermarket? Try and make your business as flexible as possible to your customers’ changing needs in the following months.
Offer flexibility with customer deposits where possible.
A lot of your clients will be unable to commit to their original booking during the Coronavirus crisis. Rather than taking the approach of ‘that’s not my problem’ and potentially losing a customer and damaging your reputation, try to say that you are flexible about their deposit and that they may use it within the next 12 months. This will protect you from clients taking their custom elsewhere when things inevitably begin moving in the economy again. You will come out the other side with a good reputation for being understanding as an organisation and hopefully a lot of customers who, like you, have sat it out but are now ready to slowly return to normality.
Use quieter times to build a positive reputation.
It might not feel like it right now, but your business will come out of the other side of Coronavirus because everything is temporary. Your business may be worryingly quieter than normal but it’s important to remain positive and prepare for the future. An excellent way to make use of quieter periods is to boost your reputation as a business. With 90% of consumers reading online reviews before using a business*, it’s incredibly important to collect and showcase customer testimonials online. With social distancing measures in place, more people than ever will have the time to turn to the internet to decide which business to use. The more positive customer reviews you have, the higher your business will appear in search engines like Google and the more likely a customer will trust your business in these uncertain times.
Make the most of social media.
With the introduction of social distancing, there are going to be a lot of people with a lot more time on their hands over the coming months. What will they do? Well let’s just take a moment to fall to our knees and thank the inventor of Netflix. I can feel many binge sessions coming our way… But in all seriousness, many people will be using social media to stay connected with family and friends if they can’t meet up with them physically. You should be making the most of this for your business and thinking of creative ways you can engage with your increased audience. If you were to implement some of the other measures mentioned in this blog, they would all be fantastic stories to share on your business social media account. Share examples of kindness in the community, share other businesses’ posts to support each other and offer ways to help your community through your business. Showcasing customer reviews and celebrating success would also be a welcome positive in these anxious times, but don’t overdo it. A lot of people are very concerned at present and above all you want to be seen as supportive and community focussed as an organisation.
Listen, track and measure your customer response to new tactics.
The impact of Coronavirus is going to be different across different types of businesses. It’s important to understand how your customers are responding to changing marketing tactics in order to contain a negative situation should it arise. It’s also critical to pay attention to when the crisis is winding down and business can begin to return to normal for you. Pay attention to changing trends in the news and at other similar businesses to yours to adjust your approach accordingly.
In it for the long haul.
There is no denying that the following months are going to be tough for everyone. Please try not to wallow in self-pity, at least not for too long. I’m sure we’ve have all done it! I admit that I’m guilty of it myself as I lay in bed until 3am this morning staring at news stories and contradicting advice. Then I had to snap out of it and do something positive before I drove myself into an anxiety frenzy! If one person benefits from this blog then I’ve had a successful day at Barker Brooks Creative. If you need any marketing advice or support during this period, then please do get in touch for a friendly chat.
* Survey: 90% of consumers say buying decisions are influenced by online reviews. A new survey from research firm Dimensional Research provides an interesting look into how reviews on sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and other online listing sites impact consumer buying decisions. According to the survey, which included responses from 1,046 respondents, 90% of consumers who recalled reading online reviews claimed that positive reviews influenced their decision to buy. On the flipside, 86% said that negative reviews had also influenced buying decisions.