We’re not gonna lie, the COVID-19 pandemic has shaken us all to our very core. Life’s been turned upside down, behaviours have shifted beyond belief and none of us know what’s coming next. And if you have a startup or small business, you’re probably a little (OK, a lot) worried right now.
Forget business booming, most of us would settle for merely surviving right now. But what does that look like? How can you increase your chances of successfully weathering the coronavirus storm? Keep reading to find out.
By re-imagining what and how you sell, you can stay relevant to your customers
1. Pivot to online (if you haven’t already)
With face-to-face living being extremely limited for many people across the UK right now, businesses based on footfall and customers buying in person are facing a seriously tough time right now. If you want your business to maximise sales, now is the time to make sure you’re properly set up online.
For those of you who relied on your stores or physical outlets to drive revenue, pivoting to focus on your digital sales could save your business. By re-imagining what and how you sell, you can stay relevant and accessible to your customers.
Introduce delivery options, build or rebuild your website to give a robust ecommerce platform, and invest in some digital marketing to give it a boost. Online sales are increasing by the minute, so make sure your business is in a position to cash in on the online spending boom.
If you can shift or focus on particular products or services, here are some that seem particularly popular at the moment:
- Food and drink
- Plants and horticulture
- Homeware and interior design
- Fitness and wellbeing
2. Educate the masses
One of the upsides of lockdowns, curfews and working from home is that a lot of people now have a lot more spare time. Boredom has driven many to embrace e-learning, causing a surge in online course registrations and the use of education platforms like Lynda.com and Udemy.
If you have a wealth of knowledge on a specific subject or your business usually offers specialist services, you could offer online education in those areas. We’ve noticed lots of fitness instructors and yoga teachers have moved into teaching the future generations of PTs and yogis online.
Some top tips for setting up an online education service:
- Focus on creating quality content with lots of videos
- Create a plan of all the topics you can cover
- Offer various formats, such as webinars, live classes, pre-recorded tutorials and PDF downloads.
- Set up different levels of content with a tiered pricing system
- Invest in a reliable, secure digital payment system
The key to any marketing collaboration is to make great content your goal
3. Team up with influencers
If you’re looking for a way to reach a wider audience and engage with new customers, social media influencers could be your ticket to success. Influencers typically have a very engaged following and can offer access to their specific audience.
There are three key factors to remember when considering which influencers to collaborate with:
Make sure the fit is right – You need to find the right influencer with the right audience for your business. Don’t just pick one out of a hat, do your homework to understand your target audience and then look at which influencers appeal to the same audience.
Bigger isn’t always better – When it comes to influencer marketing these days, there is such a thing as having too many followers. If they have 100,000s of followers, they’ll charge a fortune per post and it’ll be harder for your business to resonate personally with such a large audience. Instead look for micro influencers (<100,000 followers) who have a closer relationship with their followers and reach a more niche audience.
Create interesting content – The key to any marketing collaboration is to make great content your goal. It’s not about shamelessly plugging your brand. Be smart, give the audiences something they’ll appreciate and let your influencers lead you on the type of content that goes down well on their feeds.
With new consumer behaviours, it’s important to pay attention to the market
4. Do a marketing makeover
It’s highly unlikely your marketing plans from 12 months ago will hold up in the new post-COVID world. Sorry about it. But that’s OK, this is your chance to come up with some fresh and exciting marketing ideas.
With new consumer behaviours and a shift in economic structures, it’s important to pay attention to the market. Not how it was, or how you wish it were, but how it is right now. Who’s succeeding? Who’s failing? What are customers loving or complaining about?
Take time to understand the new landscape and use that knowledge to plan your marketing activity. By taking stock and re-aiming, you’re more likely to succeed. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Embrace email marketing – If you can’t reach your customers in person, their inbox is a pretty good plan b. Craft well-written, informative and personalised email comms. No SPAM allowed.
Va-va-videos – Video is the king of content these days, with at least 50% of consumers using videos to influence their buying decisions.
Be original and get creative – Now is not the time to blend into the background. Stand out and have fun with your marketing. Make it unique and exciting, and always relatable for your customers.
Lift up your community – We all need more humanity and community in our lives right now. Use your business to give back to your community and customers. Collaborate, donate, uplift and offer help to those most in need.
Successful businesses have passion, drive and a willingness to rise to the challenge. Be one of them.
5. Embrace change (don’t run from it)
One of the biggest tips we can give you right now is to accept and embrace what’s going on in the world. Wishing for the ‘good ol’ days’ won’t help you or your business. The world has changed, possibly forever, so let’s roll with the punches.
Evaluate the market, research your customers’ new behaviours, identify new competitors and assess your business. Then take your business plan and make a new one, if necessary. With change come new opportunities and fortune always favours the brave (and those willing to evolve).
And remember, it’s not all doom, gloom and bankruptcies. Some businesses are making the most of new trends, others are learning to serve their customers in new ways. What the successful businesses all have in common is passion, drive and a willingness to rise to the challenges they face. Be one of them.