Marketing Tips for Small Businesses during the COVID-19 Shutdown

There’s quite a bit of panic going around during this time with the COVID-19 Virus shutdowns and the economic impact that it is having across the US and around the world. As a small business, it can be scary to have to close your doors or limit interaction with the public, but these days could also serve to be an opportunity to invest the time into your marketing that you’ve needed for a while.

This is by no means a comprehensive list of tips or ideas for maximizing “time-off” or limited business hours, but these are just some general ideas and suggestions for keeping your business relevant, approachable and distinguishable during this time of economic volatility.

1. Be sure your website is updated and current.

You might be in the need for a website redesign or an entire brand facelift, but at the very least (and by all means) make sure that your online presence is updated with current hours, useful information, and even a note about how you’re handling the shutdown or how your hours have changed, including scheduling and availability. You don’t need a huge investment to make simple updates and changes that keep your users and site visitors informed and comfortable.

On the flip side of this, perhaps this is the time to jump on that website redesign you’ve been putting off for so long. Online technology is changing so rapidly and evolving at a breakneck pace. Your website audience (and potential customers) not only notice the aesthetics and design of your site, but it’s even more important now to make sure that your website is user-friendly, responsive (mobile compatible), and easily indexed in search engines. Online strategists recommend a website refresh or an entire makeover every 2 years at the most! Is your website working for you?

2. Your social media potential is at an all-time high.

What social media platforms are you currently using and are you using them correctly? Facebook is important; Instagram may be even MORE important. What about LinkedIn? YouTube? Twitter? How are you using these platforms to gain new customers or engage with current customers? If you’re not, now is the time to get on board. With people shut in at home, internet usage is at a high across all media. The data coming in says that Internet traffic is up 30-40% during this shutdown. Do you know what that means? It means, people are using their phones, tablets and computers more than ever to find info on their favorite restaurants, a potential dentist office, or a search for other services. And with the rise of internet usage, the average consumer is inclined to follow and get information on the services they use and businesses they frequent through social media updates.

That being said: how do your social media platforms stack up with your competition? Or how is your brand image being implemented and used? Even more importantly, how are you releasing current and useful information to your clients via your social pages? A social media refresh is a good way to get the ball rolling in the right direction.

3. Use SEO best practices to secure new clients through Google.

Most of us find new services or businesses through Google (or other search engines)… it’s not rocket science. What’s the point of having a website if no one sees it? Google receives approximately 63,000 searches every single second. When potential clients search for your service in their area do they find you?

Search Engine Optimization or SEO, is the practice of increasing website traffic by increasing the visibility of a website to search engines. During this time of isolation, are your potential customers finding you online? SEO is a vital part of website marketing and promotion, and yet few fully take advantage of the service. While some companies focus on PPC or Paid Search Campaigns, organic search engine optimization is the process of putting a website in a place through content, keywords, structure, and more for your site to organically rank on its own. If you’re struggling to find clients during this time, why not invest some funds into an SEO campaign and see the return on your investment skyrocket.

4. An updated brand is crucial and vitally important to your businesses success.

Perhaps your brand is dated. Perhaps it is over complicated. Or perhaps you simply don’t have a brand at all. This is the time to get an image in place that best targets your potential audience, defines your core values, and is consistent from top to bottom. Starting with your logo/brand image: make sure that it speaks to your potential audience and is memorable and recognizable.

You might be thinking: this is the worst time to re-brand. However, with the fluctuation of the markets and the down turn of the economy, we know that sooner or later everything will bounce back AND with even more charisma than it had before COVID-19 appeared and the economy took a downward turn. When it does come back are you prepared to compete at a high level with your competition? Be that the local business next door or a national brand online?

The rebranding process is simpler than you might think, but something that is of infinite value to you as a small business owner. Why not take this time to prepare for what lies ahead and the potential that is coming rather than treading water with the masses?

5. Email is still your friend. Utilize it to your advantage.

Email Marketing is such an underused business tool that I always scratch my head why companies aren’t using it more to their advantage. Especially in times like this when people are looking for quality resources and useful information. Stay ahead of the curve, by providing your clients with tips & tricks in whatever that industry might be. Or send them the information about your business schedule, times, location, etc before they even have to search for it.

Mailchimp offers fool proof ways to set up and manage email lists, and with the click of a button you can stay on the radar of customers who already trust you and rely on you for whatever service you have to offer. Is your email list working for you? Or does it just sit there with no purpose? Now is the time to take advantage of putting a call to action in place for your existing customers with the power of email marketing and the online newsletter.

Like I said, this downturn and shutdown could last a month or it could last 6 months; At this point it’s really all guesswork. But your marketing doesn’t have to be. Why sit around during this season of questions and uncertainty, while you could be revamping your marketing to work for you, bring in new clients, and keep your existing customer base happy and educated. Let’s get to work!