Very few businesses (if any) are currently operating as usual. There’s no telling when we’ll get back to anything approaching “normal,” whether that’s the old normal or the “new normal” everyone is talking about but can’t quite define.
But, no matter the situation or circumstance, if your business is open, albeit in a diminished capacity, you have to stay connected to your customers.
Granted, your budget might be lower right now, but there are still plenty of ways you can reach out to customers.
Keep your customers informed. All businesses should claim their Google My Business listing and make sure you keep it updated. Google for Small Business says it’s easy to update your business hours. This is especially important if you are operating on a reduced schedule. Google says make sure your phone number is correct and turn on messaging to make sure customers can find you.
Ivana Taylor of DIYMarketers says you should also put a highlighted notification on your website informing consumers about any updates to your products or services. There are several free tools and plugins that you can use that will create a “notification bar” at the top of your website.
Another way you can make sure customers in your area are kept in the know is to check out Klosebuy. They have a special offer going on right now to help small businesses through the coronavirus crisis.
Reassure your customers. This may not sound like a typical marketing idea, but if your customers don’t feel comfortable doing business with you, no marketing idea, no matter how grand, will be effective. Google for Small Business recommends sharing a COVID-19 update.
Explain what you have to offer. Taylor of DIYMarketers recommends retailers take a look at their inventory, see what products they have in stock and create packages making it easier to sell more items at one time. Be creative in naming your bundles, and depending on what you sell, tie them into upcoming “events” like Mother’s Day and graduation.
Send special offers via email. Whether you’re a restaurant or a retailer if you have products available for sale, you need to let customers know what you have and how to get them (Are you offering curbside pickup or delivery options?). Taylor recommends you, “Send an email featuring a menu of products that are available and any limitations on quantity. Don’t forget to tell your customers exactly what they should do to order. You can have them call and place their order or email their orders to a specific email address.”
Be personal. Not sure what your customers want? Ask them. Taylor suggests you send an email asking, “How can we help you?” And ask them to reply with what they need. This also serves, she says, as free market research.
Educate your customers. Email marketing company AWeber suggests you take this time to teach your customers and clients by offering webcasts, podcasts, webinars, e-courses, eBooks or white papers.
Meet virtually. If you’re a service provider, whether B2C or B2B, you can hold online meetings and consultations. I know a therapist who moved all her appointments to video meetings. Make sure to promote these services on your website and via emails.
There are a lot of tools available to help you connect. Zoho has made its Remotely platform (11 apps, including Zoho Meeting and Zoho Connect) available free through July. And check out this list of free video conferencing tools from G2.
Add online chat. As a consumer, one of the features I find particularly appealing is online chat. Many small businesses think these tools are too complicated or too pricey and they’re neither. Providing an easy way for customers to get answers whenever they want (using AI technology) can make the difference to making the sale or losing it to a competitor.
Check out Capterra’s ranking of best live chat software.
Take community action. Surveys have shown that consumers prefer to do business with companies that are active in their communities, that are socially-conscious and give back. AWeber shares some ideas to you can adopt:
- Set up a relief fund for those affected by the crisis.
- Create educational content that will help your audience navigate or understand the crisis.
- Discount your product or service.
- Use your product or service to help people suffering from the crisis.
Are you temporarily shut down? Google Small Business recommends you tell customers you’re not open now. Again using Google My Business you can easily let them know you’re temporarily closed. This is an important step. Google Small Business says if you mark your business as temporarily closed, “it will be treated similarly to open businesses and will not affect [your] local search rank.”
If you need help figuring out the best way to market to your customers in a crisis, a SCORE mentor can help. Take advantage of SCORE remote mentoring opportunities today.
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Funded, in part, through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, and/or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.