Posted: Mon 20th Apr 2020
The COVID-19 outbreak is a challenging time for us all and with many small businesses up and down the country wondering what the future holds, it's more important than ever to keep being seen as a business.
Simon Cox explains how to stay visible with six ideas that won't cost you a penny.
Social media has been on the increase for a number of years and, unless you employ an agency to look after your social media marketing, it's completely free to market yourself online. It just takes a little time and you need to think differently from your competitors.
You could tell the story of how you and your family are coping during the COVID-19 outbreak on your business' social media accounts, especially if you have a regular client base. Your clients have bought your products or services in the past which means they like you and trust you, so why not introduce them to your family or personal life so they can get to know you better?
Twitter hours are a great way to engage online and keep being seen. Simply tweet with the hashtag of the hour you are engaging in and away you go. They are free and conversational. Search for your local Twitter hour in Google and join in the conversation.
Our local Twitter hour is Kettering Hour on a Monday between 4pm and 5pm when people meet up online and talk about local events. Search #KetteringHour on Twitter and you'll find out what's going on in Kettering. Don't forget to include the relevant 'hour' hashtag in your tweets so other people searching that hashtag will see you.
Ensure you include photographs and videos in your social media content as this attracts people to your posts and increases the level of engagement.
It's so simple to produce a video these days to broadcast across social media platforms and to live broadcast. Why not set up a session on your iPad or iPhone and engage with your followers? You could hold a Q&A session online for your followers to ask questions about your business or offer free support, advice and help to other small businesses who are in a similar position having had to close their business and are sat at home worried about the future.
You could also create some TikTok videos which are short, snappy and funny and post them on social media. We keep hearing how we are in unprecedented times so why not produce some visual content to look back on in years to come about how we survived these times and create memories for the future.
Join online business network groups
Over the last few weeks, we have seen an increase in online meetings via platforms such as Zoom. With many meetings not able to take place due to face to face contact and the risk of spreading the virus, meetings have moved online with people doing their bit for their local business communities.
You'll need to have a search on Google or maybe have a look for the face-to-face meetings which usually take place and see what they are now offering.
Online business networking meetings can provide you with engagement and an opportunity to meet new people across the world. Although you won't get to meet people in the flesh, you can still share time learning and potentially doing business.
Blogging is a great way to share your expert knowledge so future clients can build up trust in you ahead of us coming out of the lockdown. Google loves content as well so spend time writing about your business, products or services and work on your Google rankings.
Attract interest where your readers will get to know you more and understand you or your business. We've heard how facts tell, stories sell for many years so tell the story behind your business, what you are doing during lockdown and why you started your business in the first place. All this will encourage future engagement.
By sharing your knowledge you will also build up a following from people who like what you are writing and the message you are giving out. This will benefit you when someone says to your avid readers "do you know someone that can help with X?" and the readers can first-hand recommend you. Try it and see.
You can blog on your website or maybe connect with others in online business network meetings and offer to guest blog on their website. There are also online publications that accept guest bloggers so search in Google and see what's out there.
Pick up the telephone
We've all been busy over the years building a client base and supplying customers, but how often do you speak to them? You are sat at home with little to do so why not pick up the telephone and speak to your customers who have bought from you in the past?
Firstly, they will love to hear from you I'm sure, especially if you've given them a great service or value in the past. If the conversation goes well and they haven't left you with a testimonial previously, maybe you could ask them for one which adds value to your business and keeps the testimonials flowing - even during lockdown.
You could share ideas with them for their business and have a general conversation maybe pulling on your areas of expertise or knowledge. This could also lead to a referral to someone they know who might in the market for your product or service. How many times do we ask someone who has already brought our service or product to recommend or refer us? It's a simple strategy which can pay dividends in the future.
Whatever you choose to do, it's important you keep marketing and sowing the seeds for the future. Now is your time to grow!
Have you considered podcasting? You can share your knowledge, news and updates by using simple free apps. One I would recommend is Anchor which allows record a podcast on your mobile phone and then share with your social media followers. It also connects with Spotify meaning you can broadcast to a worldwide audience. Try it and see!