There’s no denying that this is an incredibly stressful period of uncertainty—especially for small business owners. A third of the world is on lockdown and that means a whole ‘new normal’ in our personal and business lives. Here’s how you can use this time wisely to lay the groundwork and prepare for the upturn.
Life and business during COVID-19 – we’re all adjusting
Now more than ever, small and large businesses alike are in the same boat. We’re dealing with unprecedented levels of stress and a plethora of worries.
Frankly, the question of the day is how to stay afloat. And if our businesses survive, then how do we recover?
While it’s easy to dwell on today’s uncertainty and get overwhelmed with worries for tomorrow, it’s probably better to focus on the things within control. That is, what you can still do from home – in terms of marketing – to ride out the storm.
In other words, yes these are trying times filled with overwhelming worries, fear, and sadness but let’s be optimistic and forward-looking.
So with that said, let’s look at how small businesses can still be productive and use this time wisely to prepare for the upturn.
What your small business can do from home
Just because we’re stuck at home doesn’t mean we can’t find ways to overcome the business challenges brought on by covid-19.
And a lockdown doesn’t mean this has to be an unproductive time. It doesn’t even have to be ‘lost’ time.
Here are just a few ideas of what you can be doing to help your business prepare for the upturn and bounce back soonest.
Rethink your marketing strategy
We don’t know when things will return to business as usual (or if it even will), so it might be a wise idea to adjust your marketing strategy to cater to these times. Consider the realities of the new environment you’re operating in and adapt as necessary.
Work on your website
We’ve all been there: Made plans to improve our website but never quite found the time to actually get down to it…
Maybe it’s new content (or simply re-organising existing content), updating images, improving SEO or fixing in-page formatting; or maybe it’s a plugin or two that you have wanted to try out but never had the time for – now is your chance.
Find new revenue streams for your business during COVID-19
Unless you’re offering essential goods or services, chances are your sales have taken a hit. And your finances are drying up – fast!
So use this time to find new earning opportunities. What about setting up an online store? Or using third-party retailers like Amazon to make your products easily accessible? Also think about how you can put them in place as soon as possible.
Be prepared for the fact that once lockdowns around the world are lifted, it’s very possible that many consumers might continue avoiding crowded places, unnecessary outings to stores, and even hold back on making certain purchases as they tighten their purse strings.
Those new streams are what could help you survive now and carry you through the foreseeable future.
You might also want to read:
» E-commerce Website Problems: Are You Making These Common Mistakes?
» Small Business E-Commerce: Why Is No One Buying From My Online Store?
» How do you write good product descriptions?
Improve your sales and marketing copy
Great copy instills trust and confidence, boosts sales, and helps you build your brand. So take this opportunity to review, analyse, and refine your existing copy.
Think up new promotions and offers
Our family, friends, neighbours, and customers are grappling with financial fears. Some may have already lost their jobs while others worry that they may lose their jobs in the near future.
In other words, we can expect customers to decrease their spending in the coming months to make ends meet.
With that in mind, you might want to either (1) have new promotions / offers or (2) make price adjustments that will help you maintain revenue while simultaneously being attractive and attainable by your target market.
Stay updated on developments with your customer base
Whatever you knew about your customers before this crisis might no longer apply now or in the near future. People will change—their attitudes, priorities, purchase behaviours will change.
Make sure you keep abreast of these developments. Do your research. Find out what your customers new needs and wants are for life after the COVID-19 pandemic.
The good news is that you might even find yourself with a whole new segment or category of customers after this crisis. For example, consumers that didn’t need you before but find use for your products / services now.
Work on your email list
If you don’t have an email list but always planned to eventually start e-mail campaigns or sending out newsletters, then this could be the time to start working on it.
And if you already have one in place, when was the last time you cleaned the list, analysed subscriber behaviour, or segmented your readers?
This is a great opportunity to really get to know your loyal readers – what interests them, what kind of content gets the most clicks, the subject lines that have the highest open rate and so on.
Prepare or revise newsletter campaigns
Whatever you’ve had planned for the coming weeks and months might need adjustment in light of COVID-19 repercussions. Use this time to craft more relevant content; alter any materials that aren’t sensitive to the times, or promote some of the new offers (see #5) you’ve thought up for your loyal readers and customers.
Brainstorm ideas for your business’ blog
Be honest – when was the last time you actually updated your business’ blog? Maybe you started a blog only to neglect it when things got busy. Well, here’s your opportunity to brainstorm content ideas, write new material, and revitalize your blog!
You might also want to read:
» Business blogging: how your small business benefits
» Business blog content strategy – where to start
» Should your hotel have a blog?
Check your online listings
Does your small business have a presence on industry-specific listing sites, Yelp (and the like), or your country’s local online yellow pages? What about your Google business profile? If you haven’t had a chance to get that done, do it now. Make it easy for potential customers to find and reach out to you. Wherever you are online, make sure your contact data and other pertinent information is up to date.
Analyze your analytics
Similar to point #7, when was the last time you took a detailed look at your website or online store’s analytics?
Now that you’re stuck at home 24/7 there’s more than enough time to really dig deep into those analytics and form an accurate picture of your web traffic.
It’ll give you some great insight into what you could be doing better, how shoppers / visitors behave once they’re on your site, and so much more.
For example: What are your visitors clicking on? How much time are they spending on your site? What types of content / pages get the most attention? Which calls to action have the highest conversion rate? And so on.
Update your terms and conditions
With practically every industry affected by this coronavirus pandemic, and much of the world on lockdown, many (if not most) businesses are experiencing disruptions to supply chains, regular operations, service delivery, etc. We’re working under extraordinary conditions. And that means you’re going to have to update or revise your existing terms and conditions to reflect the current times. Seek legal counsel on this topic if needed.
Keep in touch with customers
You want to make sure your brand stays top of mind so even if you’re stuck working from home, take advantage of your email campaign service and reach out to your customers and subscribers.
Check in with them, let them know what you have planned or how you’re still able to serve them; remind them of your commitment to them during these trying times—you get the idea.
Don’t forget customer service
As much as humanly possible, your customer service should remain as reliable as ever – even while conducting business during COVID-19.
It’s a given that you won’t be able to respond to queries as quickly as before or that it might take longer to resolve certain issues.
But total silence? That’s not OK.
In other words, even when you’re working from home make sure you’re keeping an eye on customer service channels.
If you can’t offer support on all channels (understandably), ensure that your customers know where and how they can get in contact with you if they need to. Or have an automatic reply that provides some initial guidance or answers to the most pressing matters of the day. For example: an auto-reply with a link to an updated FAQ page.
And we’re done: A simple to-do list that will hopefully not only keep you sane but also motivated during these trying times.
Further reading for small businesses during COVID-19
Just in case you want some other tips, insights, or ideas for business during COVID-19, here are some external sources for your perusal.
- Some small businesses are flourishing during the COVID-19 pandemic
- How small business owners are coping with COVID-19 pandemic: ‘It was my civic duty to be a part of the solution’
- How Your Small Business Can Survive The COVID-19 Pandemic
- COVID-19: Nine tips for business survival
- How to avoid burnout amid a pandemic