“We are all in this together” is fast becoming the catchphrase of 2020. Whoever thought we would have a pandemic of this magnitude that is slowing bringing the world to its knees. While this coronavirus is clearly a health crisis, it is also a wake up call, in particular, to small business owners. Times may have been tough before, but nothing like this. That said, if you love what you do, it is not the time to throw in the towel.
As a marketing consultant, the number 1 question I am being asked these days is “How can I make money during the pandemic?” The answer isn’t easy, nor appropriate for all situations. Oh, that I wish it were. But for those who have inventory to sell, or a service that can be provided online, there is hope. Here’s some tips to help your business survive the coronavirus attack.
Step 1: Use Social Media. If you already have accounts, make sure you are posting content at least once a day. If you do not have an account, start with one platform based on your customer demographics. If you don’t know who you customers are, take the time now to figure it out.
Step 2: Update Your Website. Make sure your website content is up-to-date. Delete any old information or products that you no longer carry. Add incentives for people to buy from you, either now or down the road. For example: Save 30% when you buy before April 15 or get a $100 gift certificate for just $85 with no expiration date. The key is to get cash as quickly as possible.
Step 3: Be Proactive. Think about ways you can save money. Yes, that may mean letting employees go. But before you start handing out pink slips to well-trained and loyal employees, consider reducing their hours or pay. Remember, the situation is temporary. Hiring new employees is time consuming and can be costly.
Note: Congress just approved $350 billion in emergency loans for small businesses — and borrowers who maintain or restore their payrolls won’t have to pay back the loans. Click the link below for an easy, step-by-step Small Business Coronavirus Emergency Loan Guide here:
Step 4: Create Content. Writing a blog not only helps create loyal consumers, it also gives them a reason to come back to your website. Furthermore, blogging improves your website search engine ranking. If you are not adept at writing, there are countless ghost bloggers who may be out of work and would love to work with you.
Step 5: Be Intentional. Now is the time to really think about what it is you have to offer consumers. Make sure all your content reflects your company brand and benefits. If you are using social media, don’t just focus on selling. By the mere name of it, social media is intended to create relationships. Think of what personal information you are willing to share so that your audience can better connect with you.
Finally, while you may be frustrated and have every right to be, I encourage you to try to focus on the light at the end of the tunnel. I’m pretty confident there is one. So why not use this time as an opportunity to tackle some overdo projects. I personally have spent several hours reorganizing my files. It felt good.
Hang in there. Stay healthy and contact me if I can help you.
Recently I was hired by an established law firm to evaluate their marketing efforts and advise them on how the could achieve better results. I sat down to interview each of the key attorneys to see if everyone had the same vision for the firm and as I suspected, each attorney had varying opinions about what practice areas were in the best interest of the firm and how they needed to market themselves to achieve success.
This is not unusual for any business, regardless of age or size. Often times organizations spend time and money on advertising and marketing without a communications strategy or marketing plan. To the credit of the law firm, their former in-house marketing director had a marketing budget and spreadsheet tracking their expenses.
As a seasoned (older) marketer, I still believe in “Marketing 101.” More specifically, creating a balanced marketing plan based on a SWOT Analysis.
The SWOT Analysis is a great way to identify your organization’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Thus, providing a blueprint for creating a strategic and balanced marketing plan.
SWOT Analysis Format
The SWOT format can be approached in different ways. However, for the sake of this exercise, start with 4 squares on a piece of paper with enough room to write 5-6 points under each. These don’t have to be detailed, but they should be well thought-out to get the most value. Note the diagram above for reference.
The first row should be internal strengths and weaknesses. Think about your company and things you can control. The second row (opportunities and threats) should include external factors, such as market trends, other companies, competition, and other factors that you may not fully control.
Now that you have created your square, let’s delve into more detail.
Strengths - SWOT Analysis
Defining your strengths is an important part of this exercise. For some, writing down strengths can be uncomfortable, but for others they may end up with a long list. If you fall into the latter category, try to pair your list down to the 4-6 strengths that define your brand. This helps to prioritize your strengths. Remember, strengths should be based on your company and should be internally focused.
Each strength should focus on a single area of your brand. See below for some examples.
Writing down your weaknesses can be difficult, but believe me, you will find this part of the process very revealing. It is essential to understand what your business lacks to help you make sound marketing and business decisions about things such as: your marketing message, target audience, workflow, staff and other resource needs.
Here are a few examples of weaknesses:
When considering opportunities, I find it helpful to review the organization’s strengths. Often times, the strengths help me to brainstorm opportunities. Sometimes the list of opportunities can be lengthy and daunting. Your goal is only to identify opportunities, it is not a to-do-list, so don’t be afraid to think big! Later when you are creating your marketing plan, you can prioritize your opportunities.
Here are examples of opportunities:
It is important when evaluating threats that you look beyond the obvious, such as competitors or economy. This does not mean that you exclude these from your threat list. However, you should expand thinking to include other threats, such as changes in political policies and new traffic patterns that may affect your businesses location.
Here are a few more examples:
· Internet. Provides potential clients with free access to marketing advice and
low cost graphic design and print resources.
· Profit Margins. Lower rates to remain competitively priced due to increase competition from local marketing businesses and online services.
· Facebook. Small businesses and start-ups are using Facebook to promote their services as opposed to hiring an agency to build their website.
Having a clear understanding of both internal and external factors is essential for any business to survive in today’s fast-paced, high-tech world. Whether you use the above
4-square format, or simply type your list of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, or threats, on a single paper, you are on your way toward a more efficient marketing plan.
One of the most common complaints I hear from business owners is that they are not getting traffic from their website despite investing thousands of dollars with a “professional” web company. My response is usually two fold. “Are there any analytics to show the amount of traffic to your site and where is the traffic coming from?” My second response is “who wrote the web copy?”
Unlike print copy, writing for the web requires resisting the temptation to write “fluff.” Those searching the web are looking for answers to questions and want value and Google search algorithm rewards those with relevant, current and interesting content.
The most successful websites include useful content, such as articles or “blogs” that provide the reader information and a reason to come back to the website.
The way the Web works is very different from print and the content of your website needs to reflect that.
Keep Individual Page Content Short
The Web is not a good place to write a novel. Keep the content short. The shorter it is, the more likely your readers will read it. List can also be effective web content. If you have technical information consider an infographic as opposed to a full page of copy or add a blog on the topic to your website.
Write SEO-Friendly Copy
Google is watching. If you haven’t yet heard about SEO (search engine optimization) yet, is important to note that an SEO content friendly site will rank higher online than one that is not. WThus, when writing copy for your website, it is important to include keywords and phrases in your content. You need to use the phrase enough so that it's recognized as the topic but not so much that your readers notice.
Video and Audio
Internet marketing also known as digital marketing is constantly evolving. One of the latest trends is to incorporate video and audio on websites. If you plan to do this, consult a web specialist as there are some technical issues you should know before investing your time and money into adding a video or audio to your site.
Rules are Meant to be Broken
All of these rules can be broken. Know your audience and know why you're breaking the rule before you do so. Don’t be afraid to show your personality in your writing, just keep in mind the audience you are trying to inform or serve.