Tips to market your small business during the coronavirus crisis

Digital marketing during the coronavirus lockdown

We know this is a really odd time for all businesses no matter what sector you are in. It is now more important than ever to continue to market your business. Just because you may be in lockdown yourself doesn’t mean you necessarily have to stop working. It’s a great opportunity to do the things that you normally don’t have time for, including planning and executing some sensible marketing activities. So, here are some tips on how to market your small business during the coronavirus crisis. We hope you find them helpful.

Many small business owners look at marketing as a cost, not an investment. The most common excuses are “I don’t have the time to do things myself” or “I have no idea where to start” or “I am not a technical person”.

But the biggest excuse is not one that is forthcoming “I can’t afford to market my business.” Which normally means “I don’t see the worth in it”.

We hope you can take something from the helpful hints & tips we are going to publish during this time, as there are a whole bunch of ways to market your business for little or no cost.

So here we go:

Do you have a website or blog?

It’s a bit of an urban myth that you have to employ or hire a professional web design company to showcase your business online. This isn’t always the case.

If you are on a tight budget there are lots of web design platforms to choose from that offer templated packages like Wix or WordPress for example.

Now, you will need to purchase the domain name separately from a provider such as Go Daddy and these can vary in cost depending on the popularity of that domain name but often the cost can start from a few pounds for for an initial two-year registration.

Even if your business website has been around for a while it’s likely it hasn’t been updated for some time. So, now’s the perfect time to write this blogs you’ve been meaning to do or you might have a new product or service on offer that your customer base is not aware of. Let them know! Remember, you can write lots of blogs now and schedule them to go live one by one over a longer period of time. More on that below.

Testimonials and reviews

Sites such as Google+ and Yelp make it really easy for people to rate your products or services and it’s free! But asking a valued customer to help you by giving a glowing review or written testimony is priceless.

You never know. you may be shocked to hear what they really think of your business, and you can share their positive comments on your website, social media platforms and newsletters. There is nothing more powerful than having a client sing your praises. Check out the some of the testimonials on our own client case studies. From Romilly Wilde or local business Quinns.

It’s time to become more active on your social media platforms

If you haven’t used social media before you are missing out on vital tools to promote your business. If nothing else, it’s likely that staff, your family and your friends will share the content you post. Which then has a chance of reaching an even wider audience amongst their networks and so on. It could even be a chance for your products to go viral and gain more sales.

Hundreds of millions of people use social media sites on a daily basis, and the chances are that you use them too for personal reasons.

You may have seen social media platforms pushing you pricey marketing campaigns and tools, but you don’t need to use them to start promoting your business. Most of the usual platforms are still free, FaceBook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest for example are all free to use platforms and you don’t always need to spend to make use of the opportunities they provide.

If you place your business profile on these platforms you need to post regularly with informative and interesting content and engage with people that reply, like and share this information. This helps build trust so that people will feel more comfortable in sharing what you publish.

You may not make sales or gain more leads directly, but it is a great brand awareness and PR platform, the only investment is your time.

Blogging

You may not be writing a regular blog of your own containing advice, information and thoughts on your business sector. However, it’s still a good idea to follow other industry leaders that are doing so. Sharing their hints & tips is a great way to build trust from your own customer base within your sector. It helps demonstrate that you know what the best practices are, what advice you endorse by sharing it and even that you yourself are an expert in your field.

Make sure you credit your sources though! Preferably add a comment to their Blog if you like what they’re saying and decide to share it. It’s really important though to not just put a comment on someone else’s blog with a link to your own website. Try and add value to the community or the conversation by writing some sensible thoughts or views. If people like what you have said they are more likely to visit your website and find out more about your business.

Be more active within online communities

Do some research to see what online communities there are which may be relevant to your business. There are plenty out there which are either business or industry based.

From forums to social media groups and more, these communities can provide you with many great opportunities to promote your business.

When interacting with others on these sites and communities, it is important that you contribute useful and helpful information and not promote your business too much…

So along with relevant dialogues you can post a link to your website on the forums and say with which business you are associated. This will ultimately help drive traffic to your site and grow your network and establish yourself as a friendly person with some expertise or even as an expert in your field.

Once this trust has been built you will become more recognised and this should help when people come to you for advice.

Collaboration – working partnerships

Do you have friends or colleagues in a similar or related industry to yours? They may have already built a larger online community and connections than you have, so you could ask them if you can write a blog post to go on their website.

You need to be mindful when writing this post for them that it is not too sales-y or heavily promoting your business. You will need to focus on writing useful information, helpful hints & tips. You need this to be engaging and ensure you reply when asked a question or a when comment is made. Please & thank you go a long way.

Be choosy about which sites you ask to blog on, make sure they are worthy and add value to your own business.

Don’t forget to add your link back to your website at the end of the article.

Your email signature

You need to ensure that your website’s URL is in the signature block on every email you send out. It will help people become familiar with who you are. And they are likely to be more inclined to check you out.

PR  

There are many websites that allow you to submit news pieces at no cost. So now is the time to utilise them as they are looking out for feel good news. Journalists are searching for content online, as we are all in a lockdown situation, so share your stories. Are you helping a charity, have you volunteered, are you helping elderly neighbours? It doesn’t have to be all business based, you are the business in this case. Any published pieces should will then have your contact or website details attached. Which means you will be reaching a much wider audience than you would normally on your own.

Creating an email mailing list

Building an email list is vital for your marketing. You will need a sign up form on your website so you can gather this information. Don’t forget to have a tick box to say they are are agreeing that you send them further information. So you are authorised to do so. Please don’t just add all of your business cards you’ve collected over the years and make this into a list, as these people have not consented for their information to be used in this way. You will run foul of GDPR if you do this.

Having a mailing list can be very effective as the people on it are clearly interested in your products or services as they have agreed to accept this information.  Be mindful not to spam this list every five minutes as this will just make them unsubscribe, you are telling not selling. 

Mailchimp is an excellent platform for this type of marketing. It guides you through the whole process, manages the lists, gives you templates to use and data tracking on which email addresses are opening and reading your newsletters.

Photo & video

It generally accepted that video and photo content is better received than just text alone. It’s often certainly more captivating.

Sites such as Instagram and YouTube are amongst the most popular photo and video content platforms.

It’s super easy to set up and account and once that’s done you can upload your photos and videos and start to interact with your audience.

These formats are very visual ways of letting your audience understand what it is that you offer as well as being usable for education purposes. Or maybe you just want a platform to show people what it is like in your industry. It’s all possible.

The current smart phones are a low-cost way of creating short form visual content. Their camera and video apps are able to capture HD images with ease. On top of this there are loads of free and low cost editing apps that allow you to get even more creative with the content you capture. All of the videos that accompany this articles were shot on a standard iPhone and edited using a free iOS app called Videoshop. We have more videos on our own YouTube channel. You can do all this yourself easily and when you feel the need to step into longer content or for advertising purposes, you can call on an agency such as ours.

Make sure you have your information on internet directories

There are literally loads of reputable website and business directories available, you just need to make sure you have your business listed on those relevant to you. Google My Business, Yahoo, TripAdvisor or Yelp should be your first ports of call.

Offers, deals or giveaways

People love free stuff. If you can offer a giveaway or a good deal either on your website or your social feeds this is a great way to gain more interest in your products or services. It doesn’t have to be big or expensive, often something small does the trick.

You could consider offering a percentage off or free delivery or a coupon code they can use on checkout. People love to share things like this.

Well, there you go. Some simple, low cost or even free ways to market your business during this coronavirus crisis. If you need any more help in the meantime, please email me at [email protected].