There is no doubt about it, COVID-19 is going to have an impact on our economy. It already is—look at the stock market or listen to stories of companies already laying employees off. If you run your own business, it’s going to have an impact on your business, as well.
But it is possible to keep your business thriving during the COVID-19 outbreak, now labeled a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Preparedness Over Panic
Mass hysteria is arguably a greater threat right now than that actual virus. A panicked population rarely makes the best judgements or makes universal choices for the greater good of the community.
However, a prepared population has the potential to make logical, rational decisions based on data and the testimony of experts.
This is where you want your business to be.
I recommend being incredibly proactive about your communications with your staff and customers. Prepare communication scripts for a variety of scenarios so that everyone is on the same page.
You’ll likely need example emails, social media posts, and PR responses.
If you haven’t already communicated with your clients about how your business is handling updates on the virus, do so now.
Make sure your team knows the plan and that everyone is on the same page.
If you need reliable information that is constantly updated and based on the scientific data as we know it, check the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) website for more information: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html
“Right now, people have no need to panic. It’s just about being smart and prepared,” Dr. Hotez, a doctor and vaccine developer, told the American Medical Association (AMA).Source: Doctor uses reach of social media to ease COVID-19 pandemic fears
Invest in Remote Systems
If your team isn’t already remote, now is the time to invest in remote systems.
Pandemics have the potential to spread very quickly, and this one is doing so at an alarming rate.
There are already areas reporting that person-to-person spread is now community spread, a process where the virus has moved through the community with no known direct transfer.
Get your team working remotely before an infection is reported in your community or organization and help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as much as you possibly can.
Nightingale Social is a fully remote team, so we’re pros at remote systems.
A few of my favorite tools for remote teams are:
- Slack for instant text-based communication.
- Trello for collaborative project management.
- GSuite for file sharing and collaboration.
- Voxer for person to person chatting on your phone, walking talkie style.
- Canva for collaborative graphic design.
- Zoom for face-to-face virtual meetings, both one-on-one and as a team.
- Loom for recording videos and walkthroughs in lieu of in-person interaction.
Position Yourself as a Valuable Asset
Whether you’re a produce based business or a service provider, focus on how you’re positioning yourself to your clients/customers.
Make a list of pain points your clients regularly face—you should be doing this anyway.
Now, make a secondary list of pain points they will also be facing now that the world is experiencing a global health crisis.
Compare the two. Are there any overlaps? Are there any opportunities to expand your current offering?
For example, travel agents may be especially hard hit right now. So while you may not be able to help individuals plan their trip, you can absolutely position yourself as someone who can help adjust and cancel plans. You can also reach out to event organizers and help them pivot their event to a successful virtual event.
Remember that you’re not taking advantage of this crisis. You’re helping keep all the cogs in machine turning.
As a marketing agency, we’re doing something similar and encouraging our clients to keep in mind that locked down populations can expect to have higher social media usage, meaning your marketing investment is just as valuable now as it was prior to the outbreak.
It’s all about your offer and positioning yourself as valuable no matter what your clients are experiencing.
Now that we’ve touched on what to do to keep your business thriving during the COVID-19 pandemic, let’s talk about what you should NOT be doing!
What NOT To Do During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Like I said, there is no doubt that your business will be impacted in one way or another by this pandemic.
Many countries are experiencing record numbers of new cases, cities are going on lockdown, schools are closing, and whole industries are feeling the effects of the stock market plunge.
It can feel like we all need to panic and prepare for the worst, but the world isn’t going to stop turning because of this virus.
So what should you avoid doing during this time if you want your business to continue to thrive?
Don’t Quit Marketing
People and businesses aren’t going to stop needing things just because there is one BIG thing on their minds.
Think about it this way…
Just because people may be buying more antibacterial soap right now doesn’t mean they’ve stopped needing toothpaste.
COVID-19 and everything that goes with it may be the antibacterial soap in that analogy, but you’re the toothpaste.
You know your customers still need to be brushing their teeth, so don’t stop marketing your toothpaste.
Don’t Go Dark on Social Media
According to Hubspot, Instagram users spend 53 minutes on the app every day! That’s a ton of time and a huge opportunity for you to be engaging with your audience.
Stories have already begun emerging of people in quarantined areas finding creative ways to stay connected and entertained.
So while you’re probably not going to do much successful hard selling on social media, you are getting the unique opportunity to interact and engage with your audience in a much more significant way.
If you follow along with me, you already know how valuable I think that is and how often I recommend steering clear of hard selling on social media in general.
Social media is primarily for brand awareness, community cultivation, rapport and relationship building, and brand conversations.
Sales from social media is the side benefit that comes once you’ve put in the relationship work, and going dark during a time when we can anticipate social media usage increasing isn’t a smart move for your business.
Need help keeping your presence active? Let’s chat about the different packages we offer to help you soar on social media!
Don’t Abandon Your Clients
You’ve spent time and money and resources nurturing those client relationships, so don’t abandon them now.
Be proactive in your public messaging, check in with your clients often, and stay on top of the latest development regarding the spread of COVID-19.
Position yourself as part of your client’s support network.
For example, one of our travel agent clients is being hit heavy right now, so we’re checking in with them regularly, passing along helpful information, and helping them craft messaging to deliver to their own clients.
Your clients will remember the care you took with them in a time when everything feels a little scary.
Don’t Be Inflexible
Remember to be human and empathetic.
While you most certainly have to run your business (which doesn’t always mean making the “nice” decisions), don’t be inflexible to the needs of your team or your clients.
This might mean being more open to flexible hours or work locations (see my remote work tools above for help there). It might also mean selectively enforcing contracts.
I mentioned that one of our clients is a travel agent, so we’re examining our current contract and allowing us some flexibility to help our client as much as possible.
As different areas of the county begin to be more affected by COVID-19, it’s important to be as flexible as you can.
Overall, this is a time when it’s important to be aware and proactive about the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic will have on our economy and small businesses like yours.
However, you can keep your business thriving in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic.