The Impact of Coronavirus on Small Business
As a human, I’m sure you’ve been affected by COVID-19 (also known as novel coronavirus) in some way.
Whether that means worrying about elderly parents, changing travel plans or stocking up on essentials to work from home for the foreseeable future, it’s hard to not feel the stress.
As a small business owner, you may be seeing fewer customers as people limit social interaction, change travel and leisure plans and focus on staying healthy rather than on shopping for products and services.
Unless you sell toilet paper or hand sanitizer, you may be concerned about the impact of the coronavirus on your small business; your revenue, employees, and empty marketing funnel.
So does that mean you should hunker down and stop your marketing efforts for the time being? No!
The World Health Organization has declared coronavirus a global pandemic, and it’s a very uncertain time. However, I’m a firm believer in focusing on what we can do and change while finding the opportunities amidst adversity.
Every challenge can be met with common sense, rational thought and even kindness. This is not the time for irrationality. I was watching a webinar the other day and someone said, “Worrying is like a rocking chair-it gives you something to do but it won’t get you anywhere!”
I know we are living in troubling times. The virus and how the global economy is responding to the preventative measures being placed is something that will go down in the history books.
But as business owners, there is one thing we do still have control over, and that’s the ability to be resilient and make choices that will get us through these times as best possible.
In this article, I’m sharing some ways you can address the challenge of marketing during a crisis and keep your business going.
Let’s start by looking at two of the wrong ways to approach marketing during a crisis right now:
1. Making a joke about coronavirus. A few weeks ago, it was common to see online memes and humorous marketing campaigns being shared. A Las Vegas jeweller even created a campaign to sell rings!
As more and more people around the world were affected by coronavirus, these slowed down a lot. Making light of the situation is not only in poor taste, but you’ll likely drive away a good chunk of your target audience.
2. Playing on people’s fears. It’s one thing to use a sense of urgency to sell your product or service, but it’s another thing entirely to use scare tactics.
For example, don’t scare people into buying a first aid kit with a message like “Only two left! Don’t risk your family’s health!” Rather, focus on the benefit of being proactive and prepared by stocking up on medical supplies.
Make sure the angle and tone of your marketing reflects your customer’s current concerns and pain points without capitalizing on their anxiety.
How to Effectively Market Your Small Business During the Coronavirus Outbreak
No matter what type of small business you have, your priority should be clearly communicating with your customers to put them at ease.
Think about what your clients need to hear from you, and how you want to position your business during this crisis.
Here are 3 ways to market your business during the coronavirus crisis:
1. Reassure everyone that you’re protecting their health. This is especially true if you have a brick-and-mortar location. This may mean sharing your extra sanitation practices, putting a hand sanitizer station at the front of your location or implementing a policy where all staff wear masks and gloves.
For example, WestJet shares their additional precautionary cleaning measures due to coronavirus on their website.
2. Be prepared to pivot. You need to be flexible to best serve your customers. That might mean instead of cancelling a customer conference, you change it to a virtual event.
If you are planning an upcoming workshop or event, pivot with your audience in mind. It’s possible you have already been forced to cancel or postponne, but don’t assume everyone wants the solution you’re providing.
Consider options such as making it a virtual version of the event or postponning your conference to a later date. Or some people may want ticket refunds.
Polls and questionnaires can be a great way to get honest feedback from your ticket holders before changing an event.
And of course, take a look at all of your contracts to ensure you’re covered before making any changes.
If you’re a service provider, create other ways to help your clients like this fitness trainer did. He offered them a way to stay fit that doesn’t involve being around a group of people in a gym.
3. Make your employees a priority too. Don’t focus all your efforts on marketing during this time. Your employees are what keep your business going, so how can you care for them?
Maybe you can give your staff the option of working 100% remotely while COVID-19 is a concern. Or, remind them you fully encourage them to stay home if they’re feeling sick.
The more you can put your employees at ease, the better they’ll be able to support your business and your customers.
What Small Business Owners Can Learn from Coronavirus
I know this is hard, and I hope you can hang in there and focus on the present, and on being of service to your clients and staff.
They’re afraid, and what you do or share can help alleviate those fears. Remember to be careful and intentional about what you’re saying.
If your small business is being adversely affected by coronavirus, it’s also a good time to reassess your business fundamentals, including how CONVID-19 is affecting your digital marketing. How will you deal with a crisis the next time it happens? Are there things you’d do differently to be more prepared or prevent losses?
Like everything else in life, this is a learning experience. Stay healthy, safe and positive.
Susan Friesen, founder of the award-winning web development and digital marketing firm eVision Media, is a Web Specialist, Business & Marketing Consultant, and Social Media Advisor. She works with entrepreneurs who struggle with having the lack of knowledge, skill and support needed to create their online business presence.
As a result of working with Susan and her team, clients feel confident and relieved knowing their online marketing is in trustworthy and caring hands so they can focus on building their business with peace of mind at having a perfect support system in place to guide them every step of the way.