Business owners: how to continue marketing your services during the coronavirus crisis

We are currently operating in a time of uncertainty and fear due to the outbreak of the coronavirus, it is rapidly beginning to impact our national and local economy.

It will be small businesses that will take the brunt of this and when times are tough a lot of people are asking, should I be marketing my business and if so what is the correct way to do this during this crisis?
For you and your business it is important to remain calm and to build a concise marketing plan. You should be asking yourself the following questions:

Do I have a business model that I can move to an online format?
There is a lot of resources on the Internet that will support you in making this transition to ensure that you can communicate with your clients. If you offer training or consultancy services or want to carry on meeting remotely with clients, this can be done via:
Zoom
Skype
Microsoft Teams
There are a lot of platforms like this available.

Using platforms like the above become more valuable to your business, this is because whilst delivering this training or consultancy service you can record it at the same time, allowing your clients to be able to revisit the video at a later date.

Have I communicated with my clients/contacts my action plan during the coronavirus crisis?
If you send out regular communications often, ensure that these communications let your clients/contacts know what you plan to do in this situation. Is it business as usual? If it is, then let them know! Are you moving your business to an online model? If so, communicate this with them. If you do not have access to a communication tool to send this update out, MailChimp is available for free, but there are limitations to how many emails you can send out per month but there are other affordable pricing options available.

Do you have a good social media presence?
LinkedIn is the go to place for business marketing, as well as the other social media platforms available. If you aren’t using social media it is important to work out what platform works for you and your business.

 Yesterday the World Health Organization, did its first LinkedIn Live Q&A on mental health, it picked up a huge amount of traction. There are no stats but it would not be surprising if there is an influx of new LinkedIn profiles or a higher rate of activity on LinkedIn over the coming months.  

LinkedIn have also scaled up their events platform which enables companies to reach audiences virtually and have made 16 of their usually paid for courses, free. LinkedIn stated that:

“In the coming days, we will make 16 LinkedIn Learning courses available for free including tips on how to: stay productive, build relationships when you’re not face-to-face, use virtual meeting tools (Microsoft Teams, Skype, BlueJeans, Cisco Webex and Zoom), and balance family and work dynamics in a healthy way."

You can reach this area of LinkedIn here

Your social media presence is more important than ever in a time like this, especially in a time where you will need to communicate with your clients and contacts the resources and education that you plan to provide to them and to attempt to operate as usual.

How will I market my business services in a creative way?
Use video, Youtube is free. 51% of marketing professionals worldwide name video as the type of content with the best ROI.

Canva – a great tool that is free and means you are able to get creative, creating posts for your target audience and images to put into your newsletters, brochures and other communication plans

Adobe Creative Cloud – the most expensive option, but more advanced and more resources available than Canva. You will find lots of graphic design programmes and video/animation programmes.

Coronavirus will provide new challenges for businesses and will encourage businesses to move away from traditional marketing channels. It helps to write down the traditional marketing that you do to sell your services and find a digital version to deliver this via the outbreak.

How can I improve my brand awareness digitally?
Businesses have most likely set some of their budget aside for attending events, seminars, trade shows but it may be worth thinking about allocating this budget towards digital strategies including:

· Optimising your website for search engine optimisation (SEO), so new business can find you
· Invest in a pay per click (PPC) campaign to drive traffic to your website
·  Use LinkedIn as a tool to continue to network but in an online capacity
Strengthening your focus on digital and social media marketing will enable you to maintain normality in these crazy days and will give you a competitive edge over competitors who are slow to react.