Small Business Marketing Strategies During COVID-19

Due to the coronavirus, many businesses have been forced to close, many others have lost a significant percentage of customers, and most have been reduced to skeleton crews and/or a 100% remote workforce. On the other hand, look at this time as a unique opportunity to market your business. It's not always easy, but stay focused on the future of your business.

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Assess your marketing budget

According to a Harvard Business Review study that analyzed the performance of 4,700 public companies both three years before and after a recession, firms that drastically cut marketing costs didn’t necessarily flourish. Small organizations that utilize a more forward-thinking approach and continued marketing during a recession had a better chance of coming out of the recession stronger than other businesses. In other words, review your marketing budget to determine where you can spend, and where you can cut to stay in front of consumers and your current customers or clients. Now is the time to think outside the box and implement targeted campaigns.

The SmartBiz Small Business Blog has articles that can help you shape your strategy while staying within your new budget.

Modify the delivery method of your products or services

If you’re no longer able to see customers, clients, or patients in-person, explore generating revenue through new strategies.

For example, here are some ways real small businesses are evolving during quarantine:

  • Dentists and doctors can use secure platforms to offer on-line consultations. The same goes for accountants and other professionals who usually hold in-person consultations.
  • Local retailers can offer delivery services.
  • If approved in your location, curb-side pick-up can be used.
  • Exercise studios can implement online fitness instruction to keep those sheltering in place healthy.

Stay in touch with your existing customers

It's essential to retain existing customers to keep your business moving forward. But, how can you make current customers loyal and encourage them to keep purchasing from your business during the coronavirus economic downturn?

Communicate with current (and potential) customers via newsletters, email, or your social media channels. First, acknowledge the issues you’re facing and how your company is adapting.

Find out how to improve customer retention and learn why client loyalty is so important to your business in this blog post: Improve Customer Retention by Following Our 12 Strategies.

Take advantage of special programs offered by U.S. tech companies

Tech companies are addressing the crisis in unique ways. Here’s a summary of what the giant organizations are doing to support the small business community.

Facebook has launched Facebook Shops to make it easy for businesses to set up a single online store for customers on both Facebook and Instagram. Creating a Facebook Shop is free and simple. Businesses can choose the products they want to feature from their catalog and then customize the look and feel of their shop with a cover image and accent colors that showcase their brand. This means any seller, no matter their size or budget, can bring their business online and connect with customers wherever and whenever it’s convenient for them. Learn how to take advantage of this offering here.

Facebook is offering grants for up to 30,000 eligible small businesses in over 30 countries. That would be an average of $3,333 per business. More information here.

Apple launched an app and website for self-screening and resources in collaboration with the government. More information here.

Google unveils new tools with updates to help local businesses to adapt to the COVID-19. With these new sets of features, Google will allow small businesses to support themselves, including gift card sales, fundraising, or marketing their virtual services.

Etsy is helping sellers. The consumer website is aiming to help sellers through the coronavirus with $5 million in ads and billing deferments. The plan eliminates third-party ad fees for sellers through May 1. Additionally, seller who need extra time paying their bills" can request a one-month grace period, starting on March 20. The company is also making an online support team available to give whatever aid they can with managing shipping and delivery.

Microsoft 365 Business Basic has a six-months-free offer (with an annual subscription). Teams is a part of Microsoft 365. Customers using an email address like Gmail or Outlook can also sign up for the free version of Teams. They have also launched an SMB COVID-19 Resource Center that includes advice from Microsoft Advertising on ways to attract new customers at this time, including a special offer for search services. Read the press release announcement.

Square has a comprehensive list of financial relief opportunities for small businesses. The state-by-state list has grants and other opportunities offering financial support during this time.

Twitter is helping people find reliable information, connect with others, and follow what’s happening in real time. Review their updated public policy guidelines.

Instagram launched a new “Support Small Business” sticker on Instagram to easily show their love for businesses in Stories. They can mention businesses directly in the sticker to give their followers a preview of the account. When people use the sticker, their story will be added to a shared Instagram story, so their followers can see it along with other businesses that people they follow are supporting.

Monitor small business news

With many, if not most, businesses feeling the effects of the economic crisis, it’s key to stay up to date with official information on returning safely to work, getting emergency funding, handling employees, etc.