As the world comes to grips with the COVID-19 global pandemic, small businesses are feeling the pinch. As more people stay home and companies close to safeguard their staff and customers, things are starting to look dire for businesses that don’t have the resources to weather the lack of trade.
It doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom, however. Businesses can be proactive and adjust to the current reality. Lebo Lion, social media expert, digital philanthropist and marketing podcast host of the Lessons With Lion podcast, offers advice for making it through the tunnel of uncertainty.
Use digital tools
Although public gatherings have been forbidden and social distancing is being encouraged, that doesn’t mean your business can’t reach people. This is the time to invest in digital platforms like social media and optimising your website to ensure that people are constantly seeing your brand and have easy access to it.
Digitise your events
This is important for performing artists who’ve been severely affected by the cancellation of events. There are many creative ways to host an event that doesn’t require people to meet physically. (John Legend recently gave an online concert that was enormously successful.) Consider webinars, Instagram live sessions and Facebook live-streaming, to name a few.
Make sure you have an online portal
Have at least one storefront on social media or online from which people can easily buy. This will require you to convert your sales messaging into communication that encourages and teaches your audience to purchase your product/s online and has a strong call to action. For example, if you have a food business, consider registering it on UberEats.
Connect with your audience
It’s very important to intensify your relationship with your audience at this time. The stronger your connection with them, the greater the likelihood that they’ll trust you and buy from you. Use your social media platforms to create a meaningful conversation with them.
Compete with big brands
Now that our borders are closed, global supply chains risk coming to a complete standstill as world leaders try to contain the spread of COVID-19. If you’re a local business that produces consumables like toilet paper, canned goods, etc, this is your chance to compete with big brands that rely on foreign suppliers to distribute their product. With successful social selling tools, you’ll be able to reach your immediate community faster and leverage off the trust they’ve developed in you from knowing your business. As the Coronavirus spreads, trust and transparency will become increasingly important.
Local is lekker
Provide locally made substitutes for popular international products, such as handmade leather goods, etc.
As COVID-19 spreads, it will force more people to spend time at home or alone. Find creative ways in which your product or service can become part of their new experience and relieve their sense of isolation and boredom. Does your selling portal have games that your customers can play or quizzes they can take while they place an order? Offer creative, fun activities that encourage customers to stay on your online platform longer. Consider offering discounts as prizes for those who complete a puzzle correctly, provide the funniest caption to a picture, etc.
Zimela has been a multimedia content producer and writer for 10 years and an “insufferable feminist” for six. When she’s not battling writer’s block, you’ll find her practising the ukulele or watching documentaries on Netflix.