Marketing during a pandemic
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First, I want to state I never thought I’d be writing an article with this title. I’ve written things in the past about how important it is to remain consistent with your marketing through sales peaks and valleys. The bottom line is always to stay in front of people at some level all the time, building relationships and creating top of mind awareness.
The current times, however, may feel a little, or a lot, different to you. We are in unprecedented times. Small businesses are the backbone of our country. This may feel like more than a regular “slow time.” A pandemic that has many of us in “freeze-in-place” mode while others scramble to provide care for those who are sick, creates confusion, fear, and frustration. On the bright side, it seems to be also creating connection, community, and hope.
If you own a small business, what should you be doing now? Whether your business is directly or indirectly affected, it’s hard to imagine a small business that doesn’t feel change now. It may feel like more of a giving-back-time than a promote-yourself time. We see examples of businesses helping the community, and for that we are thankful. For those of us who are able, we sit tight and wait for the storm to pass, believing things will be back to “normal” one of these days – or months. For those of us who are threatened with losses so large we worry that shutting our doors now means shutting them forever, take heart. There are concrete things you can do, right now, that can help. Most importantly, remember this:
IT IS NOT SELFISH TO MARKET YOUR BUSINESS NOW
Marketing your business is no different than everyone else hoping to keep their jobs, which is the situation many of us are in today.
There is a reason you are in business. You help people; whether through coaching, health care, professional services, necessary products, luxury products, or whatever it is you offer. People still need help, whether or not they are allowed to get it from you right now. How can you serve these people? Can you offer advice instead of a personal service? You may need to think outside the box, but people still need you now. Don’t give up on them!
If you find yourself with less business but more time on your hands than usual, there are some beneficial marketing activities and projects you can do now. I believe they will help, because marketing:
- keeps you connected with your customers, vendors, and networking partners
- builds momentum and creates goodwill
- positions you for future success
- makes you feel proactive and in control of something
Depending on the position you are in with your business financially, emotionally, or logistically, I hope some of the following ideas and projects can help you. If you are feeling desperate and need sales, feel free to jump past the strategic ideas straight to the tactical ideas. If you know you’re OK but would like to optimize some of the free time you don’t usually have, you may want to start with the strategic ideas. Due to our typical busy schedule, we often skip the important piece of thinking strategically about our marketing.
Most importantly, don’t give up. Reach out, be vulnerable, and ask for help. We small business owners are a community, and what affects some of us affects all of us.
STRATEGIC MARKETING PROJECTS
- Short term strategic marketing plan: where we are going in the next few months, up to 12 months
- Long term strategic marketing plan: Two to five-year plan of goals and projections
- Define/refine Ideal Client Avatar ICA)
- Brainstorm new marketing skills you need or want
- Create a list of content ideas
- Explore the potential of expanding services or products
- Plan for future trade shows or events
TACTICAL MARKETING PROJECTS
- Short term plan: how can we increase business now or in the next 3-6 months?
- Email campaign: start a newsletter or increase existing email communication
- Update Email list: add names and delete bounces
- Email Statistics: review and analyze past email performance
- Website review/analysis
- SEO (search engine optimization) analysis
- Direct Mail campaign: postcards, letters, lumpy mail (include promo item)
- Social Media presence: optimize one platform, add a new platform, dive in for the first time
- Create an online course
- Marketing collateral summary
- Show gratitude
- Provide testimonials and reviews for others
- Brand review
- Create new stories
- Qualify new prospects
- Do a survey
- Start a podcast
- Start a blog
- Reach out to colleagues for ideas and/or partnerships
- Clean out your email inbox
- File and organize both digital and paper documents
- Learn new marketing skills online (free or paid)
- Start writing your book
If there are lessons to be learned from going through this pandemic situation, and there always are if we look, perhaps it is that we are all mere humans, in a collective experience, and we depend on one another. I always remind people that we are “marketing to humans.” Our businesses are really nothing more than relationships, and regardless of how many relationships we have, we build them one at a time.
Anytime we can increase our interaction with existing and past customers we can strengthen our relationships. Spending time reviewing our marketing materials, activities, and results gives us important information on which we can base future actions.
Please remember I am here to help.
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