Entrepreneurship comes with its fair share of anxiety and stress. The coronavirus, however, has resulted in unprecedented challenges for small business owners concerned about their future. With the pandemic forcing bars and restaurants to close dine-in services and stalling events with 50 or more people, small business owners are finding creative ways to keep the commerce wheels turning.
If you are concerned about your business, here are some tips to help you stay on the forefront of our customers’ minds — and perhaps position your business for the better:
Get mobile, if you can
Social distancing is a huge challenge for brick and mortar businesses. How do you force customers to stay six feet from each other?
Many local restaurants — including The Cottage, The Juice Hive, Signe’s Cafe and The Corner Perk — are offering curbside pick-up and/or delivery. Painting With A Twist studios in Savannah and Pooler are offering “Twist At Home Kits,” which includes canvas, paint, brushes and written instructions on how to paint a canvas style of choice.
Find a creative way to get your business mobile. Use your social media platforms and your e-mail list to let your customers know about these new services. Find neighborhood and community Facebook groups to promote your mobile services. Start with community groups you already have an “in” with.
Be clear and specific with the details. Are you delivering to certain neighborhoods? Are you only delivering on certain days? If you don’t have the details of the mobile version of your business completely ironed out, don’t fret. These are imperfect times and your customers will understand that you are taking it day by day.
Keep your business ‘top of mind’
Explore areas of potential opportunity in your business. Is your business completely customer interaction based? There is no better time to test out taking your expertise online:
- Blog: Showcase your expertise. It may not bring you money immediately. At the very least, you will add valuable content to your website, which in turn will boost your expert status, drive traffic to your site and keep your business at the forefront of your customers’ minds.
- Online Store: Take your store inventory online. Give your customers the opportunity to shop at their favorite boutique while practicing social distancing.
- Ebook: Combine all of your expertise into an ebook. Sell it on your website or attract customers to your site by giving it away for FREE. It’s easier than it sounds. As a small business owner, you have the expertise to write an ebook.
- Social Media: Now more than ever, people are flocking to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for a sense of community as we practice social distancing. Therefore, use the increased traffic to post helpful and relevant content to keep your brand alive. If your business is still open, explain how you’re taking the necessary precautions to ensure a clean and safe environment for your employees and customers.
Keep your content fresh
Aside from pertinent information related to how your business is operating during the pandemic, try not to clutter social media news feeds any more than they already are with coronavirus panic. Remind your customers why they love your business and why you are in business.
If you own a boutique, share a much-loved product once a day. How much is it? How many do you have in stock? What sizes are available? Are you delivering?
Event planner? Post tips on how to plan a themed party at home. Share tips on how to postpone an event, including dealing with cancellations and juggling vendors.
Fitness facility? Post daily workouts you can do from your home. Host a live video with form tips and items you can use in your home to substitute gym equipment.
Art gallery or craft studio? Host live Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn videos sharing a craft your customers can do from home that use items they may already have on hand. Consider selling craft subscriptions where you supply the material and the instruction in a delivered package.
Restaurant? Share daily specials that can be delivered. If you aren’t a restaurant that normally delivers, consider delivering by neighborhood to build hype. Consider selling meal plans during the coronavirus shutdown, where customers receive a discount for signing up for a certain number of weeks or days a week to receive meals.
Experiment with subscriptions! Whether you are a home caterer, artisan, jewelry maker, boutique or donut shop, consider offering monthly subscriptions in which customers receive regular discounts and freebies. Cinemark’s Movie Club, for instance, costs around $10 per month, which comes with a free movie ticket every month, 20% off concessions and shared benefits with friends. This is a great deal for movie lovers and encourages their customers to keep coming back.
This part applies to everyone: Chronicle your struggles because there is something to learn from pandemic precautions.
It’s OK to get personal with your customers. There is comfort to be found in positive messages when the news is filled with gloom and doom.
Affordable website design with a process that works for you.
This is easier said than done. Many Lowcountry businesses that are used to unexpected shutdowns for hurricanes already have protocols and processes in place to mitigate sudden downturns in business. However, for other areas of the country, pandemic shutdowns lead to uncertainty.
Turn these challenges into opportunities to evolve your business. Identify your challenges, your customers’ challenges and how you can solve problems within the parameters of these unusual circumstances.
What is your area of expertise? How can you share that with your customers in a new way?
Rarely are business owners forced to be creative and to stray from their comfort zones. During this unique situation, it’s important to find the opportunity for improvement, for innovation, for reorganization, for changing for the better.
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