We are facing unprecedented times in our recent history. There is no question about that. Over the past few months, COVID-19 has single handedly turned life upside down and changed the way that we operate on a daily basis, businesses and individuals alike.
You know the details — Businesses have either closed completely, transitioned in major ways, or for some, have remained open if considered essential.
To say that the Coronavirus pandemic has placed a strain on businesses would be an understatement. Almost every business, from every industry, has felt some impact in one way or another.
Small businesses are left wondering how they will make enough to keep the lights on, make payroll, or even pay next month’s rent.
So just what can you do as a business owner in a time like this to keep business going when you’ve been forced to close your doors, without any real assurance of what will happen over the course of the next few weeks, and potentially months?
Well, it really comes down to the willingness of two things:
- You must be willing to pivot, and;
- You must get creative.
Fortunately, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel here. You just need to make some adjustments that can help keep your business, in business.
Let’s take a look at a few ideas that you can implement right now to help keep sales coming in, amid COVID-19.
You may even potentially set your business up for greater success in the future by tapping into an undiscovered niche, or two.
Take your business online as much as possible.
This is a big one. Since most business are closed to the public right now, setting up an online store is one of the best things you can do to keep sales coming in.
If you are a product related business, such as a retail store, this means placing all of your inventory on your company website so that customers can purchase directly from you online.
Service related businesses are a little different. While you can probably still perform services for your customers as usual as long as they don’t require in-person interaction, you still want to make it easy for your customers to do business with you. This may mean streamlining face-to-face communication via face chats as well as allowing customers to make payments online.
Bonus tip: Retain customer loyalty by allowing customers to temporarily make partial payments if need be. Your customers will thank you for this later by showing them you understand now.
Be more available than usual.
Right now, every dollar counts for small businesses. And because business has slowed drastically for many, this is also the same reason why it’s crucial to remain more available than normal to your clientele.
Consider making your business open to taking customer calls and inquiries outside of normal hours. Doing so can help drive a bit of extra business that you may have missed out on otherwise.
Leverage social media.
Posting regularly to your company’s social media pages is a great way to keep in contact with your following.
Keep customers informed and updated about any changes with the business. People will want to know how they can continue to do business with you based on the current guidelines in place.
Post product and service pages from your website where customers can easily complete their transactions online. If you are unable to process transactions online, let customers know how they can purchase from your business in a contact-free fashion.
Aside from using social media for informative and promotional purposes, this is also an opportunity to be reassuring to your customers, letting them know you that your company remains available to their needs.
Consider running PPC ads.
While this sounds somewhat counterintuative since ads require at least a small investment, this is actually a good time to start running ads if you haven’t done so in the past.
The reason is that the cost-per-clicks are slightly lower than usual because there are fewer companies advertising right now. And as we know, competition is the primary driver of cost when it comes to PPC, so it’s an idea to at least consider.
Doing so can give your website a decent boost in customer traffic with the likelihood of increased sales.
Offer customers a discount promotion or free shipping.
Understandably, people are hanging tightly to their dollars these days. That’s why it’s important to give people a reason to continue shopping with you.
Consider offering some sort of a percentage discount on products or services and even shipping. Doing so let’s customers know that their business is important to you and that you are willing to compromise during this time so you can keep or win their business.
If you can’t afford to offer a discount, consider offering some of your time for free in exchange for potential business. Free consultations or free estimates are examples of things that cost nothing but time, but can lead to new business and ultimately, sales.
Try getting creative.
Because customers cannot physically walk into business locations right now, you’ll need to think about ways you can take your storefront to them.
For example, if you have retail store, you could try doing a Facebook Live session where you walk around your store showing people what you have for sale. If they are interested, they can contact your business to place an order for you to ship to them.
Or maybe you run a flower shop or some other arts & crafts type business. You could try hosting a DIY virtual workshop where you show people at home how they can make their own bouquets. Then you can sell the DIY materials to viewers end of your online class so they can make their own at home.
These ideas originally came from a news story on KSAT12 News in San Antonio, Texas. Maybe you can try something similar for your business.
The possibilities are endless. The key is really just to stay positive, consider your options and then take action. Hope is important to have at a time like this, but so is action.
The effects of COVID-19 won’t last forever.
And just remember, we’re all in this together. Eventually, this too shall pass. Stay safe, stay strong, and good luck.