We are globally experiencing unprecedented times and as business owners we are all feeling the fear and uncertainty in the economy. What can we do as business owners – what is within our control? Remember this is temporary and how your business survives can depend on what you do NOW.
There are marketing steps that you can take to reduce the impact COVID-19 has on your business today and how it will look on the other side. It can even be seen as an opportunity to improve your business practices and marketing strategies.
Here is a checklist of marketing options. The goal being to minimise spending, maximise exposure and connect with those who are still wanting what you sell.
Is your website up to date?
Are the contact numbers correct, is the street address correct? Does your contact form work – have you tested it? Are your products and services listed clearly? Remember more people than ever will be shopping and sourcing online. When they get to your website can they find what they are looking for and have you explained it well enough with accompanying good quality images for them to understand and trust enough to buy from or contact you.
Do you even have a website?
Do you have any online presence at all? Is it time to make that decision? There are multiple ways to get online – Facebook Business Page, Google My Business Page, Directory Listings eg Hot Frog, True Blue. The different online options suit different businesses. For example as a sole trader, perhaps a lawn mowing business, a listing in directories such as Hi Pages or Gumtree may work. But if more information is needed and more trust built between you and your customer it is important to have an appealing, functioning website.
If you have a website how are people finding you?
Have you left it to chance or have you invested in online marketing. Do you know if that investment has been optimised to get the best result for the minimum spend?
You can hit the ground running with Google AdWords. A campaign can be set up in a day and you can quickly start generating leads.If you are already running your own AdWords campaign – do you truly understand it? If you have someone managing your AdWords what results are you getting, what reports are they giving and have they explained the rationale. The focus on AdWords is to make sure you are getting maximum impact from the correct keywords with no negative keywords for a budget you can manage. Revisit your budget and the cost of your keywords. Check if you have negative keywords added to your campaign. Identifying negative keywords reduces your costs. Assume you are a plumber. e.g. you use a keyword “plumber” That is very relevant if you are a plumber. People may type additional keywords in their search such as Free plumber photos, plumber jobs, plumber images, plumber school, plumber tricks and tips, plumber supplies. All of these keyword clicks will not lead to a sale but will cost you money in unwanted costly clicks when people aren’t truly searching for a plumber.
SEO or Search Engine Optimisation is a long term strategy however with correct website optimisation you can get results in the short term as well – this depends on the competitiveness of your market and how well you optimise your website. Although it’s best to get an expert to get optimal results there are tasks you can do that will have impact.
- Do you really know what your customers are looking – for have you done the keyword research in your industry?
- Is your Google my Business listing complete? https://www.google.com/intl/en_au/business/
- Is your business listed in the most popular business directories? (Type top 100 Australian business directories in Google). Submit to the most popular first if you haven’t.
- Do you have enough content – Google likes to see unique, relevant content of approx. 500 words that includes the keywords most searched for.
- Does all your information align – do you have these same contact details across all your on-line marketing. If not fix it immediately as Google will penalise your website for this inconsistency.
Facebook Business Page
You can use this to display your products and services and provide posts of useful information which can be boosted to many users in your business demographic.You can use the Messenger aspect of Facebook to communicate as well as set your video appointments. You can give a demonstration of a product or explain your services via Live Video, create an online event like a seminar, list your services and offer discounts. Make sure you link this to your website.
Marketing to your Database/Existing Clients
It’s critical to keep and build relationships with your existing clients. Reach out to them to see if you can offer assistance or even just moral support. With social isolation comes isolation in business, nearly every business will be suffering. And if your customers are also businesses what can you do to help each other with reciprocal arrangements, discounts or sharing of resources. Arrange meetings – you can do this the old fashioned way with a phone call or replace the face-to-face meetings with apps such as Whatsapp and Zoom.
How is your database – get that up to date so you can use email marketing software to reach each customer or lead. You can send a message/offer/information that can help your customers or incentivise customers to buy from you. Mailchimp has free options for newsletter or email marketing. Reassure your customers and offer them ways of buying that needs no face to face contact. If you can deliver your goods and services quickly or in a different way inform them. Reassure them of your COVID-19 protocols so they know that your concern for their health and safety is paramount.
Can you change the way you service your customers. Take your business online or offer alternative ways for customers to reach you, book you and access what they need.
If you are a business with a bricks and mortar shop and no home delivery, can you start that NOW. That can start that by having an order list you can email to your database or hand out in store. You can add a simple ordering form to your website or connecting a shopping cart so people can pay online. If you don’t have merchant facilities setup (often a 4-6 week process) consider using Paypal which can be done quickly.
Home service businesses like plumbers, gardening etc will be in demand for people stuck at home in self-isolation. Minimise face to face contact. Let people pay you online – no handling of cash or interaction needed. Use online accounting like Xero to send invoices with payment links or portable hardware like Square for contactless payments. Promote these safety practices in your marketing.
For professional services such as accountants, finance and counselling or any service that needs 1 on 1 meetings utilise video conferencing. Offer Zoom or WhatsApp links on your website with instructions to assist your clients in the process.
Marketing means not only promoting your goods and services but more importantly making a connection with people who need them. And while it’s important to get sales immediately you need to assess for the long term and look at strategies that means your online presence is strong when the market inevitably bounces back and you’re positioned to capitalise on it.