20 Mar 7 Ways to Safeguard Your Small-Business’ Future
The impact of the pandemic has been felt by all and being a small business ourselves, we have always appreciated the ongoing support and encouragement from fellow small businesses. In just a week, we have seen and experienced the devastating effects on business caused by the COVID-19 Coronavirus and we struggle to put into words how catastrophic the ripple effect will likely be. In these times, everyone is urged to support small and local businesses in any way they know-how, as they form the backbone of the South African economy.
As a company that specialises in digital marketing with a passion for small businesses, we understand and respect that this is not the time to try to punt or promote our next offering or educate you on the latest trends. Instead, it’s a time for connecting with others and using it as an opportunity to extend a hand and help where we can. We realize that perhaps a valuable way we can help fellow small businesses is by providing a few tips in safeguarding the future of your business and how to navigate the next few months.
Here are a few practical tips for your small business:
Communicate the Steps You’re Taking
People are scared – WE are scared – so it’s likely that a lot of people have stopped interacting out of fear of the unknown. This is a good time for you to talk to your customer and share the precautions you and your business are taking to protect and prevent the spread of the virus. Like most, you’ve probably been inundated with emails from big corporations telling you the steps they’re taking and at this point, your efforts may get lost in spam. So, instead of adding just another email to their inbox, take the time to use your other platforms like social media to communicate your concerns, precautions and the way forward. This is a much more informal and human-approach, and with most of us working from home for the first time trying to adapt, feeling sort of lonely and being driven by fear, it’s likely that a lot more people than usual are scrolling through their feeds, so you might even see an increase in interaction.
Cut Back on Short-Term Strategies
A lot of us are looking for ways we can make cutbacks on unnecessary spending, especially with the sudden loss of regular income. In terms of marketing, we suggest cutting back on short-term marketing strategies like Google Ads or Facebook Ads. At the moment, fewer people are looking to book a service, accommodation or go out to a restaurant, especially when we don’t know how long we’ll be social distancing. Having ads that promote this will likely be a waste of budget. Instead, look at expanding on your long term strategies which include SEO, blogging, and social media marketing.
Focus on SEO
If there’s one place we’d suggesting focusing your advertising budget, it is SEO. As you probably know, SEO can take around 3-6 months to see results, so by spending time getting your website optimized, you will reap the benefits just in time for this initial panic to blow over. SEO, unlike Google Ads, relies on organic growth which is more reliable and consistent than paid growth as it doesn’t depend on your budget. It also continues to benefit your strategy even years from now, and is foundational so what you put in today, can continue to be built upon.
You might find yourself with a little more free time than usual, which gives you the perfect chance to start a business-driven blog linked to your website. Blogging helps boost your SEO and grows your website organically while encouraging your online presence and brand awareness. It’s important to approach your business blog with the idea that it is an opportunity to educate and connect with your audience, while strategically being a way to promote your business with a less invasive approach. Make sure that your content is related to your business and ties in with the product or service you provide to take full advantage of the benefits of blogging.
Nurture Your Online Community
The difference between a small business and a big corporation is that often, your customer knows YOU. They know you’re a human and they understand that this virus is affecting your business. While we’re all social distancing, a lot of us are still looking for human interaction and social media is the perfect way to connect and nurture your community. Start opening the conversation among your audience and understand that not every post has to be business-driven or self-promotion, instead, start using this as a time to share your story; who you are, what inspired you to start your business, share the highs and lows, ask questions about your community and get to know your audience more personally. Perhaps you can even feature some of your favourite small businesses and use this as an opportunity to share their story and network within our online communities. People remember how you made them feel and even though they may be cash strapped and unable to support you right now, they will remember the businesses who went the extra mile during this crisis.
Perform Some Housekeeping
Chances are when you first started your business, you signed up for a bunch of social media accounts that you don’t really use (Twitter, we are talking about you!) or you haven’t really had the time to update your pages with new pictures and information about your business. Use this time to go through each page and platform, identify which ones are benefitting and growing your business, which ones you actually use regularly and get rid of the rest. You can also use this time to take advantage of free tools that help market your business and grow your business organically, like Google My Business.
Think of Ways to Adapt Your Business
Sure, things aren’t ideal right now, but a lot of businesses are using this as a way to get creative and adapt their businesses. A local stationery store is putting together kid’s craft sets and hand-delivering them. Coffee shops are cutting down how many people they can seat by spreading their tables further apart. Restaurants and shops are not putting freshly baked goods out on display. Resorts are marketing their cabins as the best place for remote working with a view and complete isolation from any other people. Photographers are offering vouchers. Service providers are offering flexible dates. There are definitely ways that you can still get cash flow in, during this time, but it requires being creative and finding new ways to adapt.
We hope that these tips will help provide a glimmer of hope and adds some value to all the news surrounding the virus. It is overwhelmingly scary right now, but we know that together, we are stronger. If there’s anything we can do to help, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team (who all work remotely), we are very happy to help even if it means just chatting.