New uncertainties call for new measures in the digitally connected world, where social distancing and digital presence has become a new normal. Small businesses, like superheroes, are discovering new and innovative ways to use their superpowers to continue in the business.
Time is different now and so is the impact of the crisis. However, one impact that stands out is a digital connection. For decades “Globalization” played a crucial role in connecting the economies of the world. With the current pandemic, “digitization” of everything is playing a pivotal role in information sharing and keeping the economies afloat.
To survive this new environment, where face to face is limited to essential workers, we need more than just technology. We need a mindset shift.
The three steps small businesses can take to survive the new ecosystem of digital connection are:
Humans’ ability to adapt and evolve is largely based on culture. Everything starts with cultural adaptations. Acquiring knowledge is the first step, but knowledge needs to be shared and trusted among many to make it a cultural norm.
Meeting a friend, visiting mom and dad, going on shopping, or organizing events is not as acceptable as it was pre-corona. Now everything comes with a set of guidelines to follow. This is a change in the whole world. Everyone must participate in this new adaptation to make survival possible for everyone.
It is crucial for companies to include this mantra of adaptability in every aspect of their strategy. No matter what the business is, stories need to change, the message needs to address the issue, and information needs to be shared.
From “this is for you” to “what can I do to help you” moto needs to ingrain in the mission. To scale this adaptability and reach out far and wide, a digital connection is the best hope.
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” – Charles Darwin
Appealing to the people who are going through tough times needs more than regular persuasion messages. When you have the whole world going through the same problem, even the smartest strategies may not work. Just limiting yourself to “know your facts” and “know your audience”, may not cut the noise.
The persuasion principles are changing. The situations need to be analyzed, messages should empathize, and persuasion should be done with integrity. Never before, people’s basic need for physical well-being was the focus of the whole world. Small businesses can connect and persuade to convince by conveying a sense of belonging in their images, videos, or texts.
“The mind is no match with the heart in persuasion; constitutionality is not match with the compassion.” – Everett Dirksen
Everyone is talking about this one, but not everyone is implementing it. Are you differentiating? Differentiation in marketing sounds common, but it is actually, not so common. Companies create the same noise, copy the same tactic, and overtime position themselves the same as the competitor.
Now, differentiation should rely on using factors other than price. Businesses can only cut the noise with innovation, whether it is in messaging or feature.
“Differentiation is the act of designing a set of meaningful differences to distinguish the company’s offer from competitors’ offers.” – Philip Kotler
“Meaningful” in today’s environment is empathy, information sharing, and problem-solving. For reference in the future, the time & environment that I am talking about is COVID-19 times. The struggle of small businesses is real in these times. Getting on the bandwagon of digital marketing, can give some leverage in the outreach and connecting to the consumer.
To adapt, persuade, and differentiate small businesses can create omni-channel presence to reach the wider audience.
- Organizations can start by listing the business on local platforms like Google My Business, Bing Places for Business, Yelp and Yahoo. This will make sure that business is part of data aggregators of search engines and information is visible to searcher whenever relevant search is made.
- Then turn the website into a secure e-commerce platform. Anyone should be able to make purchase on the website. Make sure that content on the website is optimized and solves customer problems. Creating an FAQ page or sharing the stories through blogs are powerful ways of content creation. This adaptation, to selling your services or products, will bring great conversions. Give priority to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) of your website. There is no point of having a great website if it cannot be found. SEO is cost effective and give long term benefits.
- Omnichannel presence is extremely rewarding in Coronavirus (COVID-19) times. Use social media presence to persuade, create awareness and engagement. Do some research to consider which channels are important for the business. There are so many channels like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, TikTok, Twitter, Tumbler, Pinterest, Snapchat, Quora, WhatsApp, Nextdoor, Meetup etc. Understand the audience persona for the business and choose the right channels. Reach out to influencers, friends, and families to share the business online.
- Running paid ads will cut through the noise and put you at the top on SERP (Search engine result pages).
- Do not forget targeted email campaigns to communicate the unique value that your business can provide. This is the great channel to differentiate the content from the competitors and give value directly to the customers.
Investing and experimenting with online channels to increase sales and brand awareness, may increase ROI.
Jean-Michel Lemieux, CTO of Shopify recently said, as we help thousands of businesses to move online, our platform is now handling Black Friday level of traffic every day.
Jay Parikh, VP of Engineering at Facebook mentioned that, the usage growth from COVID-19 is unprecedented across the industry, and we are experiencing new records in usage every day.
Jesseca Dupart, owner and CEO, Kaleidoscope Hair Products said it would have been impossible to reach the heights without the Internet. Before launching her website, Jesseca had been operating out of her hair salon. To scale her business, she leveraged digital marketing platforms like Google and Social Media. Within six months, she was selling overseas. Most of her marketing budget is now dedicated to digital marketing and relies on analytics to maximize the effectiveness of her website, improve customers’ online experience, and get the most out of that investment.
Located in South Salt Lake, Majestic Meat Co. is a family owned business. Before COVID-19 and social distancing measures, the company was to deliver premium cuts of meat to high-end, local restaurants. Due to restaurant closures the orders slowed down and deliveries stopped. Majestic Meat Company had a surplus of product, but no clients were taking orders. A decision had to be made before the product spoiled. So, in an unprecedented move, owner Raymond Zaelit decided to deliver directly to the community by adding an online ordering system to their website. They took the help of a local website expert and added a shopping cart to their existing website, over a single weekend! They started delivering and allowing curbside pickup almost immediately. This single moved save the business.
The solution-based innovation and conversation on the web, either on social or search can have a rippling effect on conversion. The small streams of continuous efforts to connect to the customers can eventually create a big pool of positive outcomes.
Join the Public Relations Academy to take your creative ideas and put them into a systematic plan to help you deliver the content you need to succeed. Take the FREE 5 Day Perfectly Planned Publicity Challenge. *Special Offer* Sign-up for Kajabi FREE for 28 days through Women in PR North America!
Armina Fareed has a decade of experience in digital marketing, customer success & marketing analytics. She has worked in sectors like nonprofit, education, & SaaS based digital marketing agencies. You can connect with Armina on LinkedIN or Twitter @arminafareed