Updated: Mar 31
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, countries around the world have been imposing strict measures to stop the spread of the virus. Many countries have already closed their borders to foreigners. Health experts insist on social distancing to keep people from mixing and prevent Coronavirus spread.
While these measures help us stay safe during the pandemic, their impact on small businesses is harsh. For the majority of SMBs, daily cash flow is critical to their success. The fast adoption of remote work policies, poorer income, and the lack of customers may force many small businesses to scale down or even close. Econsultancy says that, in the U.K., 69% of companies see demand drop for their products and services, while fashion retail sales have plummeted by 41%.
So, what can small businesses do to survive?
Start Selling Online
Coronavirus changes the way we do business. Theaters now live stream shows. Fitness instructors provide online classes. Museums and art galleries offer online tours. Popular restaurants now focus their operations on food delivery.
The same goes for brick and mortar shops. If you are selling products offline successfully, why not create an online store? There are many ecommerce platforms you could choose from when building your website, depending on your needs and budget. You could always hire professionals to build, design, and optimize a killer ecommerce website for you.
Related: Media Monitoring
Build Brand Presence Across Multiple Channels
Launching a website and selling products online is just half the battle. The other half is increasing your online store’s visibility, building relationships with your customers, and attracting traffic to your website. Precisely because of that, you should build consistent, engaging, and natural brand presence across multiple digital channels.
Optimize your website for search engines.
If you have no SEO knowledge, you can always hire SEO professionals to take technical SEO, on-page SEO, keyword research, and link building for you. It is important to hire a white label SEO company that will help you increase user experiences, drive sales, and prevent you from being penalized by Google.
Grow your impact on social networks.
If you cannot afford to hire an in-house social media manager or an agency, there are many tools that may help you. For example, with social listening tools, you will track your hashtags and brand mentions to understand the brand sentiment. With social media management tools, you can schedule hundreds of social media posts and publish them automatically, whenever you want.
Use social networks to build personal relationships with your customers and establish an online community. Share behind-the-scenes photos of your staff. Publish user-generated content to build trust. Ask for feedback. Participate in conversations. Provide timely feedback. Post customer testimonials. Host contests and gamify user experiences.
Create top-notch content.
Start by publishing high-quality articles on your website’s blog. Create informative, data-backed articles, guides, case studies, etc. that will educate your readers and help them solve real-life problems.
Create visual content, too. For example, if you are selling products on a website or social networks, provide photos of each product or use 360-degree photos. Tutorial videos and unboxing videos are great because they build trust with your audiences and inspire them to convert faster.
Be Honest with Customers
It is important to keep communications with customers honest and transparent. If you are experiencing any production, inventory management, or delivery problems, inform your customers about them. Always apologize to your customers and offer compensation for late deliveries to keep them satisfied. Provide 24/7 customer support, and use all the channels available to you, such as live chat, chatbots, your website, social networks, etc.
Adapt Services to the Current Market Needs
There are many small businesses, including restaurants, gyms, event venues, photography studios, etc. that are heavily impacted by social distancing measures. Just because people cannot eat at your restaurant or take your yoga classes does not mean you should give up on them. Your customers are now trapped inside. They are bored. Wanting to finally learn something new, relax, and improve their skills, they are searching for quality, inspiring, and educational online content.
Say you are a restaurant owner. You cannot cook for your clientele right now, but you can always engage them and inspire their loyalty. Use social networks to engage audiences, share photos of your food, and create short and simple video tutorials. If you do not have Instagram, now is the right time to open it. Create polls, provide tips, and communicate with your audiences regularly. Once you start growing online exposure and attracting new followers, consider monetizing your knowledge and experience. For instance, you could offer a comprehensive video course on cooking for beginners.
For you, this is an opportunity to do what your customers love you for and, at the same time, innovate your services. Above all, you will grow your reach, educate your target audience through immersive, high-quality content, and position yourself as an industry authority.
For now, it is unclear how long the pandemic will last. To survive, you need to see these troubling times as a challenge. Adapt fast and find innovative ways to attract customers. And, I hope these tips will help your small business survive and thrive.