I'm a small business owner, so I know first-hand how difficult this time is for business owners and self-employed entrepreneurs who are trying to earn an income, pay employees, and keep their businesses afloat! Personally, part of my income comes from events and event planning, which have both come to a halt! I'm working to adjust and shift my focus to some other areas of my business, one of which is marketing consulting and client social media management.
One of my favorite parts of client work is the initial brainstorming and strategy planning session as part of the intake process. I have spent the past few weeks thinking of myself as the client, and want to share the strategies that I'm utilizing personally and would recommend to any small business owner during this time.
Social media is all about leveraging the tools already in your marketing toolkit! You have the accounts, you have the followers; don't leave them hanging! Here are the ways to utilize your social channels:
1. keep posting
Create a simple plan or content calendar to get you through the next month. This is a great place to share your updated business hours, new product/service offerings (more on that later!), what you're doing to take care of your employees and your customers, or a behind the scenes look at your new daily routine. You probably have the time now to devote to your channels and can use this time to build your community so that when you're running at full speed again, your followers/customers will know exactly what you've been up to and how they can start using your business again.
2. create templates
Now is the time to make things simple! Create a few templates that you can use each week. For example, if you share your products regularly on Instagram stories, create a simple Canva graphic that allows you to drop in a new photo in one easy step.
Sending email newsletters every week, like me? Now's the time to start if you don't already.
4. update your bio
Do your customers know that you're open? Closed? Modified hours? Make it CLEAR! Update your Instagram bio and Facebook page information so that followers can see at a glance how to reach you and where to find you. Share a direct link to website updates, but know that most people won't click out of Instagram, so it's best to have the information available within each app.
5. create new content
Everything is relatable because we are all in the same position right now! We are ALL trying to get through COVID! Think about new content topics that you can share. For example, if you're a fitness studio, you normally share only fitness, but now you can expand. Try introducing your team members and doing Instagram story takeovers of their new daily routine. Share your new daily routine, what you're doing instead of going to the studio; share any resources that have helped you...recipes, organizing tips, and even funny memes are all great ways to expand content right now and still be relevant.
6. work with influencers
I'm not saying to reach out to influencers you have never spoken to and ask for free media coverage. No. I AM saying that if you have a relationship with an influencer you have either worked with in the past or you know has shared about your business/product in the past, it's a great idea to reach out and share any relevant updates from your business.
For example, I work regularly with HP Housekeeping and enjoy supporting them. They are currently pausing their influencer program to focus on immediate needs, and I think that's completely understandable. Since I have a relationship with them, I mentioned that I would be happy to share any updates about their business with my community. If you have loyal fans, I bet they would be willing to share, too.
Get creative! I'm excited about the possibility of expanding my consulting service offerings now that I won't be devoting as much time to events for the next two months. It's time to think about new ways to serve your clients; what do they need from you?!
1. new product or service
Do you offer a classic product or service that needs to be updated? If you're service-based, think about how you could adjust your offering to best serve your clients. Is it a virtual meeting instead of an in-person session?
If you're product-based, is now the time to expand your delivery options and create new product bundles? Your customers are now at home all day (or maybe you serve people who are still working!)- think about how that changes their need for your offering and how you can adjust.
2. new launch/create excitement
If you're creating something new, then talk about it! Customers love hearing about how their favorite businesses are adapting and making changes to still try to serve them and keep their employees safe. Everyone is trying their best to adjust to their new normal, and hearing how other people are doing it is inspiring! This goes back to social media... share share share!
3. contactless is key
Even if you have a delivery system or curbside option in place, think about how to update it and make it as safe as possible! Then? Yes! TALK ABOUT IT! Make sure your customers know ALL of their options for accessing or receiving your services. You might need to mention your delivery options at the end of every. single. post. Do it.
4. go virtual
Is there a part of your business that you can take ONLINE? Do you work with clients in-person? Take them virtual. Think about offering a virtual package for booking in advance (is a discount realistic? some other benefit you can offer?) Do you normally work in groups, but now have a chance to slow down and work one-on-one?
If you're product-based, can you create videos about how to use your product? New tutorials, even a step-by-step video showing how to order online? Can you add digital printables to your product offering?
small business aid
When I started canceling event after event in my own business, I knew that I had to pivot quick! Even if you're able to adjust business operations to continue your revenue flow or create a new revenue stream, you may still need help staying in the black and paying your employees and expenses. Here are a few government resources and articles that I have found helpful personally:
Yep. You might qualify to receive unemployment payments, even if you're self-employed. Unemployment is managed state by state; the Texas Workforce Commission is overwhelmed and barely able to handle the number of visitors to its website, but they are receiving federal aid to extend to small businesses and the self-employed who are no longer able to work due to COVID.
2. small business loan
The Small Business Administration is a resource for you if you want to know more about how to apply for a small business loan or paycheck protection program that is part of the CARES act stimulus plan signed by President Trump. Head to sba.gov for details.
I hope these resources helped you! Of course, if you have specific questions, you can email me. Stay safe!