Running a business during a crisis is stressful. There are more demands on your time than normal, and the overwhelming noise of questions in your head can be deafening. You may even feel paralyzed, wondering which major issue or problem to tackle first as you try to stay afloat.
In the midst of all those questions, marketing can feel like the last thing you should focus on at this time. However, marketing is actually one of the BEST uses of your time and headspace during a crisis. Businesses who successfully weather storms and economic changes are businesses that are able to adapt and make quick adjustments to meet their customer needs. A big part of adapting is staying on top of your marketing during times of crisis.
In this guide, we share our top five strategies to market your small business during a global crisis.
Marketing Best Practices
1. Google Advertising
During normal times, Google ads are a great way to reach people in your community that may not know about you yet. These ads should continue to be part of your strategy during a time of crisis as well.
Google advertising allows you to put the most important information about your business at the top of search engine results pages (SERP) in Google. There are two ad spots at the top of the SERPs, and three add spots at the bottom of these pages.
These ad spots are great places to let customers and potential customers know you’re still open. They can then click through to your landing pages and websites to learn more about how you can meet their needs during this time.
2. Google My Business
Google My Business is a free tool created by Google to make it easier for people to find companies and businesses near them. It’s the easiest business marketing strategy to invest in because it requires very little time and is FREE.
Here’s how to optimize your Google My Business profile during times of crisis:
Update your hours. Have your hours changed in response to this pandemic? If so, remember to update them in your profile. There are two sections for your business hours: Normal Business Hours and Special Business Hours. Make sure your normal hours are correct, and fill out the special business hours section if you’re open or closed at different times.
Make announcements. Right after customers look to see what your hours are, they’ll look to see if you’ve made any announcements about coronavirus (or COVID-19). Calm their fears by letting them know about anything and everything you’re doing to make your facilities more safe. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Any limits you’re imposing on number of customers in your store
- Changes in availability
- Online and home delivery options
- Refund and cancellation policies
- What you’re doing to support your employees
- Postponed events
This is a powerful form of advertising because it’s location based. It allows you to show advertisements to customers in a specific geographical location, and you can run geo-targeted ads on Google, social media, and YouTube. You can test this as much as you want, making adjustments to your budget and moving your geofence to specific neighborhoods or zip codes.
Doing so will allow you to speak directly to the customers you’re trying to reach. “We’re open in Columbia, MO.” This lets them know you’re close, you’re available to meet their needs, and you’re still open when so many other businesses are closed.
To get started, choose which geographical location(s) you want to target. Choose neighborhoods and zip codes close to you and establish your fences around those locations.
Geofencing is an effective advertising strategy right now because it allows you to put your services in front of the people in the area where they need them most. Contact us today if you need help getting started so you can reach more of the customers you want to see now.
Many people discount the effectiveness of Facebook as a marketing strategy. Or worse, they fail to have a strategy and think sporadic posting will produce profitable results.
You’ll want to utilize Facebook as a strategy during this pandemic. Look at all the same things you did for Google My Business – update your hours, make sure your business information is correct, and make an announcement about what you’re doing to keep people healthy and safe at your store or business.
In addition to the above tasks, you’ll want to keep regularly posting to your page. Even if you’re cutting back on your hours, it’s important to keep up with your posting schedule so Facebook’s algorithm still knows you’re relevant. For you, this means potential customers can still find you easily.
Make sure you do the following to maximize your success on this platform:
- Humanize your voice. People want to hear from YOU, not a sterile robot-sounding corporate voice.
- Find the right tone. Stick to your brand and communicate your care, concern, and support for your community and the people in it.
- Adapt your messaging. If you already had posts scheduled to go up, go back and make sure they are still relevant for these times.
- Provide education. This is a great way to earn people’s trust and demonstrate your concern for them.
- Speak about how you’re giving back to the community. This doesn’t even have to be a humble brag, just share genuinely how much you care and what you’re doing to support neighbors during the crisis.
You should also continue running Facebook ads. You can run geofenced ads on Facebook, letting customers know you’re still there for them. We know these strategies work because we utilize them every day and get to see and measure the results.
How long has it been since you’ve updated your website? In times of crisis, your website becomes your virtual storefront and it’s more important than ever to have relevant, fresh content on your site.
Start by adding a banner across all pages of your website with a COVID-19 announcement. This should inform people of any changes for your business as a result of the pandemic and what they can expect.
Next, do a website audit. What information is inaccurate and needs to be updated? Do the links work and point where they are supposed to? Taking time now to make your site welcoming and clean will make visitors want to stick around longer to hear what you have to say and browse what you have to offer.
Finally, if you don’t have one already, this is a great time to start a blog. Not only is it beneficial for your SEO, which is how people can find you, but it provides relevant, timely content and information for customers. No matter your industry, there are always things to write about! Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- A plumber can share how to do a home plumbing “audit” by checking on fixtures, appliances, and other plumbing accessories throughout the house.
- A salon owner can write blogs about DIY nail treatments or ways to practice self care during this time at home.
- A chiropractor can share ways to destress and do at-home stretches to keep the spine and muscles flexible until patients can come for their next adjustment.
- A bakery can share baking tips or cake decorating “secrets” for people to attempt while at home.
- A dentist can write about the “Best 3 Things To Do For Healthy Teeth”
Think about the most common questions you get from customers and write about that! This will also provide information you can post on social media, driving more traffic to your website.
We hope these strategies are helpful as you adapt to this crisis. We’ll see the ongoing impact of this for months down the road, and the companies and businesses that thrive will be the ones who can adjust and pivot to continue meeting customer needs in these unprecedented days.
If you need help with your marketing or are curious how Caledon Virtual can help your business, we’d love to chat! Please contact us to learn more today.