marketing for small businesses through covid-19

Suddenly, we have more time on our hands than we ever imagined. Those days of “I don’t have enough time!” have become “OMG, what am I going to do?”.

Many of us are working from home trying to reinvent ourselves. We have gone from face-to-face interactions to ZOOM conferencing and FaceTime. Some of us are struggling as business will be put on hold for the next few months.

As we look at dwindling revenue, we need to be thinking about marketing opportunities during this down time. Many small businesses struggle with their marketing because of the technology challenges in today’s digital world.

If you’ve got a few minutes each day, I have some tips to get you ready for your “re-opening” and next steps for marketing your business.

(1) Google Your Business: That’s right. Put the name of your business (not your website) into the Google search bar and see what comes up. The first search should start on your smart phone. Since 80% of your clients and customers will search for you on their mobile device, you should see how quickly people can find you. Also, positioning on a Google page is based on a mobile search. If you come up on the first page of a mobile search, that will translate into your positioning in a laptop/desktop search.

Now, do a desktop/laptop search. On this search, there are two things you should look for:

1. How many positions on the first page (and beyond) belong to your business? Is your website the first thing that comes up? Do your social network pages show up? (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram…) Are there articles or directories that mention your business? The more positions (and pages) you own, the better chance of you being found.

2. Look to the right of the page, is your business listing in place? This is your Google My Business listing. Now is a great time to update your listing and if you don’t have one, set one up. Make sure your business name is correct, address, and contact information. Add hours of operation as well as pictures of your business. It’s important for people to be able to find you quickly. Don’t miss out on opportunities because people couldn’t find your contact information on Google.

For those of you who want to take this one step further, Google your competition. Where do they show up? Are they in directories or on websites that you should join or set up a listing. And lastly, call someone who wouldn’t necessarily be searching for your business (or maybe switch your search to incognito) and ask them this question…Without using the name of my business, what keywords or phrases would you use to search for my business online? Ask them to put it in a Google search and see if you come up on the first page of Google. Did you show up? Were you in Google Places (the map area)? Does your competition come up? This is a great time to start thinking about keywords and how people search for your business.

(2) Take a look at your website: This is a great time to look at changing copy, writing some blog articles, changing out images and refreshing your site. If your site is older and doesn’t function well in a mobile capacity, maybe it’s time to start looking at a site redesign. Take a look at the copy on each page, does it need to be updated or refreshed? Think about how people search for you online. If you put in groups of keywords, are you coming up?

Look at your ABOUT page. Does it have a story about your business and the passion that drives you? Is there a good picture of you and your staff? Transparency is important. People want to know who you are and what you do. It goes back to…know, like, trust, try, buy, advocate. People want to get to know you and like you before they will try any of your products, buy any of your products and if they are happy, they will tell stories and become advocates for your business.

Do you have new products and/or services? Take down those that aren’t working and refresh the page; add new images or maybe a short video. This is the perfect time to try different types of content for your audience.

(3) Join Alignable: Alignable is a small business referral network. It allows you to build relationships with local business owners and participate in forums where you can ask questions about best practices. You can also promote your business products, services and events. During this time, local businesses have been posing questions about survival during this stay in place. Reach out and collaborate with your local business partners. It’s a great way to brainstorm about steps to get customers and clients into businesses in your local area.

(4) Update Your Social Networks: Go back through your networks and update them with your most current information.

  1. Linkedin – One of the most powerful business networks for your personal brand and business brand. Make sure your headshot and contact information is up to date. Create a powerful executive summary that will grab your audience and don’t regurgitate what is in your work experience. Start with WHY. Why do you do what you do? Tell me about your passion, your drive, what makes you want to go to work everyday. Make sure you have a business page. This is another way to have your business show up on Google. When you create the business page add your logo, a banner and all contact information. To create more value, post at least once a month.
  2. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, TikTok – Take time to review both your personal and business pages. Update information, link pages, update headshots and logos if necessary. Make branding easily recognizable by carrying your personal headshot across all personal profile pages and business logos for business profiles.
  3. YouTube and Facebook Watch/IGTV (Instagram TV) – Video, Video, Video. Over 85% of what we consume today is video. Whether it is public (YouTube) or on a closed network (Facebook Watch/IGTV) small business owners need to become more familiar with video. Video can be recorded and then uploaded or many networks use LIVE meaning you can stream in the moment. Try creating a few quick videos and uploading them to your networks. Remember to give them a good (searchable) title and a solid description. If you don’t explain what the video is about, people can’t search for it.

(5) Content Challenge: Get a paper calendar and start with April or May. Think of topics that are related to your business during these times:

  1. Create one good piece of content for each month. This should be a written article that is 1000-1500 words. Think about how you can break content down into smaller pieces. For example, look at this article. I can break it into 5 pieces just with the tips. Or, I could expand on the social networking tip and talk more about each network.
  2. Images and video: Can you produce 15-20 images and maybe a video that would complement pieces of your content? If I took each section and created images and some video tips, let’s say, a tip a week on video and two or three photos that people can relate, than I have all my context.
  3. Think of different titles for your content. I want people to feel like they are reading different types of content. As I put this information on social networks, not all people will see it at the same time. Why don’t I give them different titles? Maybe one will grab them quicker than others. I can give them the whole article or snippets. I already have 5 Small Business Marketing Tips during COVID-19. Now, if I create more: (1) Refreshing GOOGLE My Business (2) 3 Reasons to Update Your Linkedin (3) Is your Website Feeling Old? (4) Creating Monthly Content for Your Business (5) Are You Using Alignable?
  4. Now, you are ready to go. You have a set number of articles, images and content you can share all through the month. This gives you the opportunity to pepper in other stories about what is going on in your business. If you create this ahead of time, it will give you content to post as you are heading back into work.

This is just the beginning. There are plenty of things we can be doing to get ourselves ready for our future re-opening.

Don’t get overwhelmed. Tackle this a little at a time.

And when you are done, I’ll have another 5 marketing tips to keep you going.

Stay safe.

X