Tips to keep selling your products and services during Covid-19
No matter your industry, if you're a small business owner, the current pandemic can't end soon enough. Here's what you can do for your business to make the best of an unfair situation.
June 11 · 8 min read
Covid-19 has caused turmoil for most businesses around the world. Some industries, like construction, real estate, and travel, have seen particularly devastating effects, and their future is still largely uncertain. However, other sectors are still holding steady despite this unpredictable climate.
For businesses that have begun to partially reopen, the current routine is far from normal. Health and safety requirements are being implemented that few employers or employees are familiar with. Walk-in business is still limited and controlled under most circumstances, and many companies that previously operated solely in-person are struggling to adapt.
No matter your industry, if you’re a small business owner, the current pandemic can’t end soon enough. Here’s what you can do for your business to make the best of an unfair situation.
Marketing your products and services during the pandemic
For now, it’s unclear when the pandemic is going to subside or when businesses will be able to resume normal operations. Until then, companies can make the most of the situation by changing their approach to marketing their products and services. While this isn’t ideal, you should be able to keep your business running lean with the tips outlined below.
Use an “acts, not ads” approach
This is an old school approach to advertising that’s always worth trying. You can probably deduce the strategy simply by reading the name, but essentially, the idea is to switch from traditional “Check out this product!” marketing to performing good deeds for your customers and others.
In a time of crisis, this allows your target audience to empathize with your cause and feel that purchasing from you is a form of showing support. This approach builds a relationship with your customers that goes beyond providing a good product, which can get you through the pandemic and ensure a loyal customer base afterward.
Some of the most common ways of doing this during Covid-19 is by offering a free month of a subscription-based service, waiving late fees, reducing prices, offering new services for free, donating to organizations that are fighting the virus, and so on.
Focus on lead generation
For marketers, one of the biggest challenges currently is the massive slowdown in cash flow. Everyone, from consumers to businesses, is pinching their wallets. As a result, conversions are more difficult than ever to obtain.
So how do you maintain a marketing presence if conversions are few and far between? We recommend turning your attention to lead generation. Think of this as stocking up on leads so that when the world starts to recover and people become used to the new normal, you’ll already have potential conversions lined up and waiting to happen.
This is one of the benefits of focusing on an acts, not ads approach. Even though customers might not be willing or able to spend during the pandemic, your business will be on their mind when they can start spending again. It’s not the most profitable strategy in the short-term, but it’ll benefit your business in the long run.
The ROI of advertising is actually going up
An unexpected but logical change in the world of advertising has been the rapidly decreasing cost of advertising across all mediums. One reason for this is primarily rooted in how businesses structure their budgets in a crisis. Namely, they slash their advertising. If no one is spending anyway, why waste cash on ads?
As a result, advertising platforms, like social media, suddenly have far fewer customers than they did before the pandemic. To encourage businesses to keep investing in their advertising, these platforms lower the cost of advertisements, and voilà, businesses that continue paying for ads are suddenly getting a much better deal.
Couple this with the fact that most people are stuck at home on social media and entertainment platforms, and your advertising ROI is likely to increase despite lower sales overall. So, if online advertising is right for your business, now is a great time to start creating online ad content.
Create an online presence
Building an online presence has been fundamental for businesses over the last twenty years, but in our current situation, it’s likely the only type of presence your business has.
SMS and email campaigns are here to stay and they’re an affordable way to connect with customers. However, this is also a great time to start pouring your efforts into additional online channels, such as blogging and video content. Again, people are sitting at home looking for things to do, so any way that you can come up with things for them to do is a big win for your business.
When you build a website with B12, we work with you on other aspects of your online presence, like SEO, blog posts, email marketing, and more. We also send you notable metrics each month that point toward improvements you can make, and we suggest website updates to keep your site fresh and dynamic.
Selling your products and services during Covid
Once you’ve got your marketing strategy underway, you’ll want to start moving your products and services. This effort will heavily depend on the type of business you run, as no two businesses are going to adapt in the exact same way. Here, we’ll provide you with a few strategies that you can tailor to your company to sustain sales during the pandemic.
Move to a digital mode of business
Starting on our list of things that might work for your business is to digitize it. This is one of those things that’s going to look different for every company, but it’s one of the surest ways to keep your business alive during trying times.
No matter what products or services you sell, look for ways to digitize those products and services. If you’re a brick and mortar, look into ecommerce, like opening a Shopify store. If you’re a restaurant, make sure you’re offering takeout, and consider hosting online cooking classes. If you’re a financial consultant, consider using Zoom for consultations or creating webinars.
If you do start offering consultations and appointments online, make sure you use online scheduling software that integrates with your website. This way, visitors and customers can instantly book time with you and your site’s available appointments will sync with the open slots on your calendar.
Start offering payment plans
Another useful strategy to implement, especially if you sell high-end goods, is to offer payment plan options. This is important because many of the consumers and businesses that are tightening their budgets don’t want to stop spending entirely, they just can’t afford to spend as freely as before.
By offering payment plans, you not only give people the flexibility to continue buying your goods and services, you also create a predictable stream of revenue over a set period. If you’ve never worked with installment plans before, there are third-party services you can implement that will provide you with the infrastructure that’s right for you.
Increase your international presence
So far, companies with the strongest staying power during Covid have been ones with a diverse customer base. Even though every country is grappling with the pandemic, they’re all managing it differently and experiencing different phases.
Even if customers from one country aren’t able to engage with your business, customers from other countries likely can. If you don’t already have an international customer base and a business that can operate globally, consider taking steps to make it happen. Translate your website into other languages, improve your SEO in other regions, and tap into markets that are being less affected by the virus than your home region.
Invest in cybersecurity
If you are going to move a significant portion of your business online, be sure that whatever method you are using is as secure as possible. Digital attacks are always a threat, and due to increased online activity during the pandemic, hackers and frauds are more prevalent than ever.
Double and triple check your cybersecurity systems as you work toward digitizing your business. Ensure that your website platform is highly secure, and if you have remote workers, make sure sensitive company info is always safely accessed. Typical file sharing and emailing strategies are not reliable on personal Wi-Fi networks, so research and invest in more robust solutions.
How to reopen your business after the pandemic
Follow the guidelines for your city, state, and country
The last thing any business wants after its big reopening is to be hit by fines or lawsuits. Wherever you are, make sure that you are intimately familiar with the guidelines for your region and follow them to a fault. This will provide you with a foundation for how to reopen during the pandemic.
Ensure that your employees are ready for work
The same way that students have to readjust to school after summer break, expect most of your employees to have a difficult time readjusting to a normal work schedule after being in quarantine for several months. Some of your employees might have been affected in serious ways, such as losing loved ones or having to make sacrifices due to financial strain.
As an employer, you want to do your best to be understanding of these difficulties while also maintaining a positive and productive work environment. Make sure that your employees are prepared and taken care of without allowing them to take advantage of your leniency.
Establish and enforce strong safety procedures
Additionally, you’ll want to ensure that all of your employees are aware of and following the recommended guidelines during the pandemic. Provide everyone with a mask and gloves, require them to follow social distancing, and regularly sanitize all surfaces in your business. These practices not only keep your employees and customers safe, they also reduce the spread of the virus and limit its impact on your business.
Running a business during Covid-19
Being a business owner is a tough gig even in the best of times. Today, we are certainly not living in the best of times, which means daily operations are more stressful than ever. It’s difficult but now is the time to step up as a leader, adapt your strategy, and do your best to keep things running until we reach normalcy again. In the meantime, please stay safe.
For more tips on marketing and web design during the pandemic, check out the rest of the B12 Resource Center.