Marketing Help for Small Business Owners During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Updated: Apr 9
2020 has taken a strange turn. For most us, we could never have imagined being at home 23/7. And none of us could have imagined that something of this magnitude would affect our business and our lives so much. For many businesses, especially those still in the startup or early stages, starting a business is hard enough. Throw in a global pandemic and it feels like the Tasmanian Devil is spinning rampant through our lives.
As the Founder of a startup business, which is at early product development stage, we are experiencing a diversion from the project plan. Whilst I find myself taking care of the things that need to be done for the startup, I have also found that I have a bit of time on my hands. And I would like to use that time to help other small business owners if and where I can.
My entrepreneurial mindset is always looking for a solution to problems. COVID-19 is a problem that we cannot solve and we must be at ease with riding the wave. But we can choose how we do that. With a surfboard or a deflated dinghy? I'm not even sure what that means - but I'm choosing the image of a champion surf boarder inside a massive wave who is riding that wave like a pro. For some there sadly might be no option other than to sink - hopefully they will come back stronger. But for those who do have an option, this chapter could be viewed as a time for positive changes or new approaches.
How can we create some certainty amongst the uncertainty?
We have all been thrown into this situation headfirst, so reactive marketing has been the name of the game for those businesses who are still able to engage in marketing. But for many, the panic button has been hit. The questions, "what do we do", "how will we get through this", "what can we do now", "how do we keep the business moving along", "what do we want to say", "what can we offer people" "is it right to be selling just now" and on it goes...
Whilst many small business owners have a shit ton of other stuff to contend with just now, when ready, we could engage in a bit of proactive marketing. We can spend a bit of time thinking, being creative, finding solutions and formulating a plan of action. What can we be doing now that will help us when we get back to a degree of normality? Whatever normality will look like.
Do you need someone to speak to about your business or need help with marketing?
I have offered and have been giving my clients additional help with their marketing. Whether that's website updates, marketing ideas, social media, marketing now for the future or ideas for potential opportunities, I'm open to discussing. And anyone who knows me, knows that I am full of ideas. Some of them good, some of them really good and a fair few of them pretty bad...!
I would like to extend my offer to help small business owners - particularly those who are on their own or part of a very small team. Sometimes a fresh pair of eyes can be enough to let you see past the trees that are hidden by the woods. I am open to hearing from anyone in my network who would like to catch up for a Zoom or Skype coffee to chat about their situation and if there is any way that I might be able to help.
In the meantime, I have had a think about things small business owners could be doing during the lockdown. Things that I have been doing for clients as well as a few other thoughts and suggestions. If nothing is going to help you here, then maybe it will spark an idea or thought that could be of use to you.
The Born Sullivan Marketing Brain Storm...
1. The obvious one that everyone's doing. What can you be doing online that could help your customers or potential customers? Webinars, Zoom meets, can you send items in the post, offer a useful service for free, have a customer or client soiree as you might do in your physical location? If so, invite your customers/clients to grab a bottle of Prosecco, some nibbles and join you at 7pm on a Thursday night to socialise and celebrate getting through this. What can work in real life, could work in the virtual world. Get creative.
2. What opportunities might this situation create for your business? Beer and Gin distilleries have turned their hand to making hand sanitiser. Joe Wicks is now the world's best known PE Teacher! It might feel like everything has stopped, but the world keeps turning. Spend an hour or two researching your industry - developments, challenges, changes, legislation, competition and find potential opportunities anywhere. There is no harm in contacting a business that might need you - especially now, when they might need your services or product more than ever.
3. Can you build a list of offers ready to give to customers when business opens again as normal? How will you get customers and clients back through the doors (physical or metaphorical for service industries) when you reopen? Do a brainstorm, what will people need most from you when we reach the other side?
4. What’s your social media strategy looking like during the crisis? Social media can often be a luxury for many small businesses – now you have time to think, to curate and to write something of value to share. What do you want to add that's original and not just 'noise'?
5. Following on from that - have you ever used Canva before? Canva is a great app for creating social media content. Take a morning, afternoon or day to learn how to use it. Fire up your creative marketing juices and fall in love with your business again.
6. This chapter will end. It could end as abruptly as it started. If it does, what are you going back to? Is there stuff that isn’t happening now that will need to happen when we go back to normality? Make a list, plan and prepare.
7. Be a source of support and help for customers – many small business owners have a close relationships with customers, could you be an ear for them? What you give out will come back to you...
8. What have you been putting off that you could do now? If your To Do list is usually as long as your arm and tasks have been pushed down that list (marketing planning being one of them I bet), can you go back to the list and do those things you always meant to do?
9. Our world has changed in an instant. And as sustainability is at my core, I couldn't not include this in my list. Sustainability is a must for the future of our survival - beyond COVID-19. Destruction of our planet is also a virus. And we all have a part to play. Perhaps you've been thinking about what your business could do to be more conscious, to start on the road to sustainability. Implementing sustainable practices and communicating those practices could separate you from the competition. This is not a bandwagon. Give some serious consideration to how your business could become more sustainable. And tell your customers and potential future customers.
If you need an ear, want to chat, need some inspiration or ideas or help with marketing or sustainability, please give me a shout.
I can't promise anything but I'm here for ya in you need me.