Let’s face it—we’re in uncharted territory. The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown our global economy into a complete tailspin, and everyone is feeling the effects—from Wall Street down to Main Street.
At Two Impress, we work with business owners and managers every day to help them reach audiences and tell their stories. One thing we’re witnessing right now is businesses that rely on in-person experiences and sales to survive are being forced to adjust their business models and adapt to this strange new world to make ends meet.
So let’s take a look at what’s going on, trends were seeing and some hot marketing tips to help your local business make it through the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you ask us, the hardest thing about this global health and economic crisis is the isolation we’re all feeling. And we know business owners with physical locations are really feeling the pain. When businesses were ordered to close their doors to customers, they were forced to either forego their livelihood (and that of their employees) or move their business to an online/to-go model in the hopes of recouping at least some of their losses.
But here’s the crazy thing: in this time of social isolation, many people are more digitally connected than ever before because we’re all stuck at home in front of our screens. While physical interactions have decreased, community engagement has skyrocketed.
So what exactly does this mean for the local businesses looking to stay connected with customers?
- Be Candid with Your Audience – Many business owners are choosing to be fully transparent about their struggles, and it’s working. The vulnerability of talking openly about how this crisis is directly affecting your business and employees can evoke empathy in your customers and endear them to your brand. We’ve seen communities rally around their favorite local businesses with GoFundMe drives, gift card purchases to keep them afloat in the short-term, and active promotion for the parts of the business that remain open. So, don’t be afraid to talk freely about what’s going on and what you need. You may just be surprised at how fast your community rallies around you!
- Go Digital – Because many of us are stuck at home right now, we’ve become increasingly reliant on technology to keep us connected to one another. That means, there’s a good chance your customers are spending much more time in front of their phones, tablets, televisions and computers than they would typically be. So consider focusing more attention on digital content like social media, your website, digital ads, etc.
- Rewrite Content – Things aren’t “business as usual” for anyone anymore. Pay attention to what is changing in your community—culture, audiences, fears, trends, etc.—and speak to them in your business’s content. Now, more than ever, your brand’s humanity needs to shine through in everything you do, from your website to your print materials.
Change is Hard
Owning a business is tough—even when society isn’t faltering under the weight of a global pandemic. One of the most difficult things business owners have to do is adjust and adapt their business model to changes in the market, and we are certainly seeing that play out in front of our eyes every single day.
Here are a few tips for navigating these changes and coming out on top:
- Be Flexible – Now is not the time to double down on a traditional business model, rather it’s a time to innovate, pivot and discover new ways to do what you do best. Some of our favorite examples of local businesses innovating include: restaurants switching to to-go and delivery models; essential businesses making efforts to accommodate elderly and at-risk customers; fashion designers and retailers sewing and selling/donating masks; and engineers and tech companies designing and selling/donating PPE like 3-D printed face masks. Have you spent enough time thinking about how your small business can innovate right now?
- Ask Tough Questions – Many business owners are currently taking some time to think long and hard about how effective (or not) their business model really is—not just right now, but in the past and future as well. Now that we understand that life as we know it may look a little different for a while, it’s the perfect opportunity to consider how best to stay relevant—even if that means throwing the old model out the window and starting fresh.
- Take a Digital-First Approach – One of the most common local business innovations we’re seeing is a switch from in-person to online communication and sales. While some businesses have been building a bigger digital footprint and ecommerce infrastructure over the past several years, many have not needed to expand their sales to the digital space—until now. A few of the easiest ways to go digital include investing in your social media content and ensuring your website is up-to-date, easy to navigate and offers ecommerce options if it makes sense for your business model.
Resilience is a Must
Take a moment to think about why you started your business. Did you identify a problem that needed solved, or a need that wasn’t being met? Were you focused on improving people’s lives or businesses? Whatever your reason, you harnessed passion, grit and probably a lot of elbow grease to bring your brand to life, and we respect the hell out of that.
What we’re trying to say is don’t give up. These are our tips for digging deep, finding the fire that fueled you when you started out, and using it to secure your future:
- Whatever You Do, Don’t Panic – With all the fear and uncertainty in our world, it seems natural to pull a Chicken Little and run around screaming about the sky falling, but try to suppress that urge. Things may feel hopeless, but you don’t have to lie down and let this pandemic steamroll your business into oblivion. One of the things that has been so encouraging to us is working with clients who channel their fears into a catalyst for growth.
- Be Kind to Yourself – Give yourself a break! This is hard on all of us for so many reasons, and you’re allowed to take some time to grieve whatever losses you’re experiencing. You can do this, and we’re here to help if you need some extra support.
Even if your business is struggling right now, it’s crucial to remember that we are all in this together. In our humble opinion, Two Impress is a fantastic resource if you’re looking for some guidance on how to pivot your business to accommodate our new economic reality. Learn more about how we approach client work and the services we offer. Then reach out and let us know how we can help.
The Two Impress Team