As a small business owner, you’re facing unprecedented challenges and an economic slowdown for which there is no magic bullet. How you respond in this time of crisis will help determine how well your business recovers.
Even in these uncertain times, there is hope. Consumers went through with their lawn care. They ordered takeout. They hired an HVAC company to install an air purifier in their system. They went to the grocery store to find toilet paper. They ordered new sneakers from their local running store, as they now have time to walk in the morning. They visited the local bike shop to get a tune-up. They hired a maid service to sterilize their house. Life continues on and consumers need to know your business is open and ready to serve them.
What Are the Steps to Take to Sustain Your Small Business?
As millions of Americans work from home and practice social distancing, your business must adjust to the new norm. Businesses that stay aggressive during a time like this can gain market share when competitors take their foot off the gas. Here are some suggestions to market your establishment to an at-home audience.
Communicate with Your Customers
Communication is key. Communicate via social media, email and your website regarding the status of your business, the steps you’re taking to ensure the health and safety of your employees and customers and any changes to your hours, products or services. Pay attention to your tone in these messages as, like you, consumers are struggling to cope with heightened fear and anxiety. What once was clever or humorous may now be inappropriate or offensive. When in doubt, ask a trusted colleague or friend to review your message before you hit send.
Test out or increase your video marketing. You don’t need fancy equipment or editing software to send video updates to your customers. Shoot a video with your phone and post it on your website or social pages. You could even try Facebook Live if you’re feeling brave.
Adapt to the Needs of Your Customers
“The species that survives is the one that is able best to adapt and adjust to the changing environment in which it finds itself.” – Charles Darwin
There’s no manual for responding to coronavirus. With each news conference or regulation, another small business is forced to adapt to survive. Some are required to shut down altogether. If you’re still up and running, there are some marketing strategies that seem to be working:
Industry Specific Ideas for Business Continuity During Coronavirus
Many local and state governments have put restrictions on the food/beverage industry, forcing restaurants to reduce hours and/or eliminate in-house seating. But there are ways you can move past these hurdles, especially while consumers are seeing bare shelves at the grocery stores:
Some home service businesses will be relatively untouched by the coronavirus pandemic. Others, however, will feel a crunch as homeowners start to make the tough decisions of what is a necessity and what is a luxury. Here are some ways to push through:
Beauty / Health / Fitness
Due to an emphasis on social distancing, businesses that rely on close contact with customers need to get creative:
Like beauty/health companies, entertainment businesses need alternatives to operating under “business as usual”:
Many Americans will be counting on tax refunds to pay the bills. Accounting businesses can provide services that help:
While groups of people are limited, retail businesses can keep their doors open if they make a few adjustments:
Why Should I Advertise During Coronavirus?
While small business owners everywhere are concerned about their budgets – and rightfully so – advertising is not something to stop doing without serious consideration. During periods of economic downturn, studies have shown that short-term sales growth from direct mail advertising increases. Consumer confidence WILL return, and communicating with customers now will position your business for growth when that occurs.
The American Business Press analyzed 143 companies during a prior U.S. recession and found the companies that advertised during this period had the highest growth in sales and net income for two years after the recession ended.
Why? Several reasons. If you advertise when your competitors don’t, all eyes are on your business. When communities begin to recover financially, you’ll be top of mind. New customers you acquire during a downturn can turn into loyal customers. And loyal customers may become even more devoted because your business provided what they needed when others didn’t.
Review your budget and adjust as needed. Find a balance between spending money and pulling back to keep your business going. Understanding your business’s cycles and numbers will help. Invest in marketing products that enable you to stretch your dollars for extended periods of time, like direct mail.
If your business is struggling with cash flow, visit SBA.gov to find out if you qualify for a financial relief program. The Federal Reserve has slashed interest rates too, currently matching the all time low. Lenders will also be more flexible for small businesses, who make up 99% of businesses in the U.S..
Your Business Health with Direct MailYes. The World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have stated the likelihood of COVID-19 contaminating shipping goods (like paper and cardboard) is low. From the CDC Coronavirus FAQs:
“In general, because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from food products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient, refrigerated, or frozen temperatures.”
At Valpak, our printing, packaging and distribution systems are highly automated. So much so, that the first human hands to touch the ads in our Blue Envelope are the household recipients. From restricting access to our manufacturing facility to increased cleaning protocols, we have taken proactive steps to stay ahead of any potential health and safety issues. Our priority remains the well-being of our employees and customers. At this time, we remain fully operational and you should expect to receive your Valpak in the mail as scheduled.
Valpak is here to help you navigate the rapidly changing environment. Direct mail is the measurable media that could help to sustain your business now and maintain your brand awareness for the future. When consumer confidence bounces back, you’ll be ready.