Latest news: the UK plans to follow other European countries, locking down businesses and restricting public events to halt the spread of Coronovirus (COVID-19).
Smart business owners are adapting and using different ways to keep customers informed, continuing to earn income and offer valuable services during the disruptions.
Marketing, free digital tools and a bit of creative thinking can help save the day.
Keep reading below to see our suggestions.
To be clear - this article is NOT about how businesses can exploit the current situation.
Marketing is defined as the business process of identifying, anticipating and satisfying customers' needs and wants. During this time, as with any other, people have needs and wants which will be additionally challenged and impeded by the situation at hand.
Here's the list:
1. Stay Active on Social Media
These days, if people can't get in touch with a business the usual way, they go to social media
So, keep the conversation going.
Respond to customer service queries and above all, don't go silent - otherwise some of those people's comments could turn nasty - venting, or negative comments aimed at your business.
2. Update Your Google My Business Page
Local information becomes critical at times like this
Google recently published a new COVID-19-specific help document showing businesses how to update their hours on Google My Business ('GMB'), change their listing, update their phone number or even create a post which appears directly on Google search results to communicate any changes or disruptions. View it here.
Google also wrote in a recent announcement that "In the coming days, we’ll make it possible for businesses to easily mark themselves as “temporarily closed” using Google My Business."
You can check out this comprehensive article from Whitespark that covers all of the GMB updates in detail.
3. Communicate Changes With Customers
Let customers know what's happening, as best as you can
4. Make Use of Free Communication Tools
... and video where appropriate
People feel isolated at times like this. Video and face time is a great way to keep people feeling connected.
Why not experiment with more video as a communication tool or even for some of your services?
WhatsApp , Google hangouts and Facebook Messenger are commonly used these days and 100% free.
Or, for a virtual meeting room, free for up to 4 participants try Whereby (formerly appear.in)
Get your appointments automated and in order with a tool like Calendly
5. Offer Your Services Digitally, If You Can
Education and consulting businesses could make use of the free tools mentioned above, or package parts of their content and make it available online to customers
Articles, guides and video (free to upload and share with YouTube) are all easily uploaded and shared online with today's digital tools.
Or, if your business fits, try running a webinar with paid platforms like Zoom, Demio or Gotowebinar
6. Collaborate With Other Businesses
This one might seem obvious, but don't forget - others are going through the same thing now
You could work with other businesses and:
Perhaps you can come up with ways to collaborate that neither of you had thought of, like using the delivery service of the business next door, or who knows what?
7. Modify Your Existing Services
I hesitate to cite the overly-used term 'digital transformation'... but perhaps this is the perfect time to look at your business and think about ways you can go more digital?
Is it time to:
8. Make It Clear: How Can Customers Contact You?
Whichever channels you decide to use, make it clear to customers - how can they get in touch with you to ask questions? Don't expect them to guess!
This could be as simple as a big message on your website, a pinned post on your Facebook page, or an update on any one of the channels we've already mentioned.
Here in Gibraltar, we're already seeing the effects that lockdowns are having on businesses. We hope this article helps small business owners in the UK and around the world amidst all of these events.
Feel free to message us on our Facebook page for more advice or send us an email
Most importantly - stay safe!
If you have any other creative ideas or comments to add, we'd love to hear from you in the comments below.