Wow. COVID 19 huh. Who saw this coming?
No-one. And now, after just pulling our collective shit together after the disruption from the bushfires, we are facing a moment in history that feels pretty damn daunting and threatening to the livelihood of a lot of small businesses.
As a small business owner myself, I know only too well the anxiety that all of this uncertainty is causing. Like most of you, I just want to know how long this will last? How will it affect my family, my community, my customers, my colleagues, my town and of course, my business?
I know there will be many of you right now who are tempted to put any planned marketing efforts on the back burner while you focus on steering your business through these uncharted waters.
I highly recommend that you don’t.
Now more than ever, it’s more important that you remain front of mind with your existing customers and your target audience. It’s during this period that you can surprise and delight your customer by helping in unexpected ways, by providing helpful and valuable communications or by simply just reaching out to let them know that you are thinking of them.
You also want to ensure that your business is in a good position, with a steady stream of leads and sales for once all of this commotion has died down.
Right now, your customers may be fearful, frustrated and confused with all of the uncertainty that lies ahead. It can be your business that provides them with just the right amount of communication to either distract them from all of the havoc or to reassure them in their time of need.
But I get it. No-one will be feeling particularly confident in investing huge sums of money in their marketing when they are not sure how much COVID 19 will affect their businesses bottom line, not to mention our economy.
In an effort to encourage you to keep up the marketing as much as possible, I have put together eight low cost / free marketing activities that your business can do to help you remain visible and relevant to your tribe during this tumultuous time:
- Keep publishing your posts via your social media newsfeeds. The general population is practically glued to their social media channels right now as this is an immediate news source for most. So it makes sense that you are leveraging this opportunity to jump into your target audiences feed. Posting updates to your LinkedIn, Facebook or Instagram community can be done for little or no cost. Just remember if you do want additional visibility, try and post when you know that your target audience will be online. And if you can spare it, I highly recommend boosting your content (even if it’s just $5) on Facebook to ensure that enough people see it.
- Send helpful emails to your existing customers. If you have a list of email subscribers, reach out and let them know that you are thinking of them. You might want to take this opportunity to let them know any readjusted opening hours or reassure them about visits to your office or store by letting them know about your hygiene policies.
- Take the opportunity to call some of your existing VIP customers. A personal phone call to some of your best customers will never go unnoticed. In fact, in my experience, this is just the kind of effort that will get your customers talking about how thoughtful and helpful you are to their friends and family.
- Write helpful blog articles or publish helpful videos. If your business can offer some assistance or helpful advice to your customers or to your community to help them get through this disruption, publish this advice in a blog or even record yourself on your smartphone and post it out via your social channels.
- Contact your local radio station or newspaper. If you have some helpful information that you can share with your community to help navigate coronavirus chaos, call your local paper or radio station and see if they are interested in interviewing you about this. Or you could send them a media release with this information.
- Pitch yourself to a podcaster. There are so many fabulous podcasts for people to tune into now. There is pretty much a podcast for just about every topic that you can think of. Surely there will be a podcast out there that would love to talk to you about your expertise. The marketing objective behind this activity is to help introduce you to a group of potential new customers and to position yourself as an expert. The podcast interview is more about sharing information and insight as opposed to selling your products and services. If you impress people with your expertise, they’ll tell other people about you or seek you out if they are ready to buy.
- Join a social media group. Facebook and LinkedIn groups that your customers or target audience are members of, provide a great opportunity to find out more about them and build some relationships with people outside of your own circles. Again, this is an opportunity to contribute to the conversation as opposed to promoting your services. Be warned, group admins are generally pretty swift to oust any self-promoters!
- Reach out to your Centre of Influences. A Centre of Influence is a person or an organisation who also serves people in your target audience. They are likely to be able to influence their behaviour by providing positive (or negative) commentary about the products or services that you provide.
You should be able to do all of the above activities for little or no cost at all. The only investment will be your time. But it will be worth it. These small marketing efforts could be the difference in galvanising your tribe as you work with them to help them through this time OR losing out to your competitor who may have the good sense to do this.
If you do want any more information about how best to invest in your marketing at this point, please just give us a shout or get stuck into my book; ‘How to do Marketing- A Comprehensive Guide for Small Businesses.’