I don't need to tell anyone across the country and the globe, we are facing the most trying times in our lifetimes. Not only a medical pandemic that is terrifying, but the face of economic losses for millions of people and businesses. This has affected everyone, in so many varied ways. Small businesses and restaurants have shut their doors or had to find creative ways to sell products, retail workers, restaurant servers and bartenders, tradespeople, all finding themselves unemployed in less than 2 weeks.
As an online small business owner it has hurt me too. I have clients that are now gone, shut down, and I have clients that are doing well and looking at creative ways to continue to succeed and minimize downsizing. I was talking with my family about this last night, it's kind of a luck of the draw. I mean who started a business years ago and said "can we survive a pandemic and national shutdown"? Of course not. I have clients in the construction and trades and they continue to keep heads down and work. I have clients that sell SaaS products and they are thriving through this.
But, there are so many that aren't and I wanted to touch on some ways to keep moving forward and fighting through this. I have some thoughts about what marketers can do to help out and wanted to touch on them a bit here. These are in no particular order and are meant to be a recipe book, of sorts, for small business owners to look at creative ways to keep doors open.
OK, you ask, what is Inbound Marketing? It is defined like this "Inbound marketing is a business methodology that attracts customers by creating valuable content and experiences tailored to them. While outbound marketing interrupts your audience with content they don’t want, inbound marketing forms connections they’re looking for and solves problems they already have."
Trust me, nobody wants a sales call right now. If you don't get ripped apart from the person on the end of the call, I'd be shocked. This is not the time. Now is the time to attract new opportunities. What services does your company offer? How can your company's services help my business? It is not the time to sell, it's the time to attract, to educate. I've always believed that if you help, educate and inform, sales will follow.
The elements in this wheel don't all come into play now. But the attract tools are critical now!
Content Content content
I've ALWAYS been a huge advocate of good content. With every client I work with, I start with identifying gaps in their content strategy. Sadly, in most cases, this strategy does not even exist. In a nutshell, ask your yourself, "What are the key terms that people would search for to find the services I offer?" Start with 5-10, don't go crazy. Then look at your site, take inventory of your pages. Hell, I'm happy to spider down your site for free and send the data to you, just email me firstname.lastname@example.org
So, as you look at those terms, identify if you even have the pages on your site that supports the terms and phrases that you listed. If they don't exist, nobody will ever find you in search for those terms. It is that simple. This is the time to get on it. I've used this stupid analogy all the time but here goes. If you have a site and you want to be found for "red pants", but you don't have content or pages that are about "red pants", you will never be found for it. Yes, it is almost this simple.
If you find yourself in analysis-paralysis and cannot get started, reach out to a third party to assist. You can use a service like WriterAccess and get very good blogs and other content written, sometimes for under $50
If you find yourself, or your employees not working right now, there is no time like now. You don't have the excuse to not get started with content.
Don't Let Up
If you are still open for business but trying to determine how to continue to market, now is not the time to stop. Many companies are going to put their marketing efforts to the side, but on the flip side, many are not. Those that can and find creative ways to continue to stay active in social, SEO, content, blogging, product optimization, etc, they will win when we get to the other side of this pandemic.
A competitor of mine (remember we are in this together) just wrote a great blog about this exact subject. You can't turn marketing on and off. You can adjust but don't just turn it off and expect to come back on the other side.
Be Real, now more than ever
We are all humans. We all have emotions. We all have different situations, some with families, some not. Some with children home, some not. If you've ever thought about breaking through to your customers and prospects, this is the time to let loose. Go live on Facebook, tell them your story, connect with them as humans, not a business or business people. Don't get too emotional but get creative. Create videos with your children, dogs, cats or other animals. Tell stories that connect you with your prospects and don't be afraid to be genuine. Chances are they are in the same, or very similar situations.
This is a creative version of the "Attract" phase and you'll be top of mind when we find ourselves on the other side of these times.
Social Media Marketing
People are spending more time on social media now, more than ever. They know that the job market is stifled and running out of Netflix series to binge watch. Keep your brand top of mind in social media. You don't need to spend money now, unless it is still in your budgets. But if you're trying to maintain a lean spend right now, remember that every social channel that we have right now is free.
Keep your business and professional profiles active. Be human, talk about your emotions, talk about business, talk about what you can do for people. They will buy again!
Easily the fastest growing social media channel now and one that changes, almost daily. Of course we know it is more image focused but those videos you create MUST be shared on Instagram Stories and on your page. As someone that is an active photographer, this channel is a favorite of mine and I use it all day long to connect.
I'll admit, this is still not a channel that I've personally not used enough or well. But I spend a few hours a day learning and just vegging out on YouTube. As yourself, does your product or service have something valuable that could be viewed by me on YouTube?
This remains the professional social network of choice. Continue to be active on LinkedIn and look to connect with other, like-minded people that you may have had the time to search and connect with before.
I still love Twitter as a valuable resource. If you aren't on it, start today. It's still a valuable channel for news and other product searches
Please don't waste your time with TikTok now, it's not ready for prime time and another distraction for a very younger crowd now.
Now, more than anytime before, is the time to say yes to nearly anything a customer asks you to do. If they have a request for something out of "scope" from your retainer, but you feel comfortable assisting them, do it. You do not know what they are going through, if they've lost coworkers do to downsizing or if they've been asked to do something they don't know how to.
I am huge proponent of karma. I don't necessarily mean this in a bad way. I mean that when good people do good things to help others, karma always comes back to them, in a good way. If you have a service, and not hard goods, then what or who can you help in these hard times? I've asked local restaurants if I can help them, in the kitchen, answering phones, cleaning, anything. I've spoke to and given away services to friends and even strangers that I would normally charge for. Why, because right now I can. Maybe tomorrow that will change and I'll be in someone else's shoes, but for now, I have a set of skills that night help someone struggling.
And don't forget, someday maybe you'll need their help.
Be safe friends #staythefhome