If your business is like most small businesses, you’re facing a unique challenge during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Depending on your industry and location, you may be dealing with:
- The full closure of your business
- Limitations in your offerings/products
- Loss of sales
- Employees working from home
It’s a lot to handle. But there are still ways you can connect with customers and find success during this difficult time.
Here are four things we recommend that can help your business weather the storm of COVID-19.
1. Regularly update your Google My Business profile.
Particularly for local companies, Google My Business provides an easy way to communicate must-know information. With one look at a profile, customers can determine your hours, what services you’re offering and anything else that may have changed due to COVID-19.
Plus, Google offers the opportunity to share posts. These function similar to a social media post, can show up in search results and appear in your profile for customers to see. Here are a few things to know:
- You can post as much as you want, but posts do expire every 7 days.
- There are three types of posts: Offers, Updates (aka “What’s New”) and Events.
- Viewers will only see about 100 characters of your text unless they click the post.
- Photos should be a minimum of 400 pixels wide by 300 pixels tall in either JPG or PNG format.
- Videos can be uploaded to posts.
- You can add a call-to-action button with a link to your website. Options include Book, Order online, Buy, Learn more, Sign up and Call now.
So for example, a restaurant that has shut down its dining room but is still offering takeout could update its Google profile to reflect this. It could then also share a special offer within the Google posts as an incentive to place takeout orders.
On the other hand, a service business could share a statement about how it’s handling COVID-19 in a Google post to assure its audience that they are taking the necessary steps to keep customers and staff safe while still meeting customer needs. They could also include a clickable Call button for people to contact them with any concerns.
2. Utilize social media to keep customers in the loop.
Chances are, the people following you on social media have a vested interest in your business. So they are the ones you should be connecting with most frequently during these unsettled times.
If things are changing in your business on a daily basis, consider holding a Live video recap every morning or evening. Or regularly post information that’s relevant to your customers, such as changes to your inventory or availability of services.
For example, many small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic are currently encouraging customers to purchase gift cards to help with the downturn. Social media would be a great way to ask followers for this, and possibly even to offer a promotion or a free item with any gift card purchase.
This is an ideal time to think about how you use social media to connect with fans.
Hershey’s ZooAmerica decided to use this time to create daily educational Live videos, which help parents looking to entertain out-of-school kids. Their first broadcast about otters had 16,000 views, 255 shares and 774 comments. That’s incredible engagement!
Ephrata Library took its regular in-library events online through Live video, offering a full schedule with Story Time, Sing-Along and Read Aloud & Discussion sessions, as well as an informational talk about the COVID-19.
If live video isn’t your thing, consider using this downtime to engage more on social media with your customers, influencers and other small businesses. You can still build connections amid social distancing.
3. Consider moving products or services online.
While you may not be able to bring people into your store or office, you can likely still find a way to share your skills, products or services.
Depending on the scale of your business, you may be able to organize purchases through a direct messaging platform like Messenger and a PayPal account. Or you could go old-school, asking customers to call to place orders and pay.
If your business has a larger inventory, this could be the time to look into adding a shop to your Facebook page or Pinterest account. This would yield benefits far beyond this period of social distancing.
For service-based businesses such as insurance agencies or financial coaches, capitalize on the extra time people have at home by offering video conferences and phone calls for what would typically be face-to-face meetings.
This may even lower the barriers to signing up for that first free consultation, since people may be more likely to schedule an online meeting than an in-person one.
4. Use your email list to tell faithful customers how they can best support your small business during COVID-19.
Every business has a few things that can help it weather tough times. In fact, we’ve seen this image circulating social media with a few general suggestions that would be helpful for all businesses.
Take time to think about concrete items that would help your business and share them with your email subscribers. Even better, develop a campaign for the next few weeks with each email focusing on one specific call to action, like writing a review, calling in an order or scheduling a video call.
Your email list is one of the best ways to reach customers, so don’t forget about these faithful subscribers during this period.
You can do this
There’s a lot of hardship ahead for many businesses, but there are also many new opportunities cropping up to connect with customers and create a new pathway to success.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, know that you’re not alone. But don’t give up!
And if you still need help, don’t hesitate to reach out to the Fresh team.