Posted on March 23, 2020
Tactics to help your business now so you can hit the ground running.
By: Jamie Decker, Marketing Director, Southtowns Regional Chamber of Commerce
March 23, 2020
We are upon a new and foreign time. Not only are humans social creatures but many depend on in-person interactions for our businesses. Your customers and employees are being told to stay at home unless they need necessities, and we are trying to understand new methods to be productive without losing too much from the bottom line. What do you do when you can no longer function as the business you’ve always been? Use this time to work on your business, not in it.
With the help from our friends at the Evansville Chamber in Wisconsin, we’ve put together a list of ideas to help you work on your business so you can hit the ground running when this epidemic is over.
Before we dive into some more in-depth ways to help strengthen your business, let’s take a look at a few marketing ideas that can help in the short-term. Email us any special operations and deals you have going on and we will add to our Daily Specials post & webpage. The daily specials are available on our website as well as on social media to let people know if you are open and what you have going on!
- If you aren’t on social media – now’s the time to get on it. According to Omnicore 75% of online social users have a median income over $75,000. Each platform below has over 300 million users each, Facebook is in the lead with 2.5 billion users.
- Facebook: Posts pictures with engaging stories to capture audience.
- Instagram: Mostly pictures with brief comments. This is a more visual platform and great for ecommerce especially.
- Twitter is where over 330 million people get their news. Post brief commentary, promote your products and services, and give tips and advice.
- LinkedIn: Now is a great time to find connections and interact digitally with other business professionals for creative and sales ideas, and to promote your services. You can create a personal page that showcases your professional expertise and set up a Business Page too!
- Slack is an app for your desktop or mobile device that can handle all your communications in one place. You can create “channels” to have specific conversations on certain topics or use to stay in touch with your workforce too. Slack is a little more in-depth so if you are not savvy on digital platforms, check out their Why Slack page and do some research before diving in.
All social platforms walk you through creating accounts, but the key is when and what to post. Research is important. Take a look at other businesses on these platforms to help get an idea of what to post. Look to your analytics page to start understanding who sees and interacts with your posts when. Most importantly, use hashtags! Hashtags are a singular word or series of words. The purpose of hashtags is to help systems organize and categorize content. For example, if you like dogs and are online posting, researching, and buying things related to dogs then you will see posts from others with hashtags related to dogs. You can use hashtags on any platform to help populate your content online. Other ways to help get your content out there include:
- Follow and Tag organizations to also help populate more followers. Tag our Chamber so we can make sure we follow you and can share your current information! Search us as Southtowns Regional Chamber of Commerce or tag us via @WNYSouthtowns on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin.
- Share content from other pages and ask them to help you out by sharing your content to their users.
- Be consistent and use hashtags.
- Always have a way for users to contact you or get directly to your website.
- Ask for a call to action. We want them to buy your stuff or hire you for your services.
- Look at your analytics and adjust your posts accordingly. See what is popular to best to reach your audience.
- If you do not have a website, now’s the time to get one. There are multiple companies within our Chamber directory who can help you do this, or you can set up a basic website on your own. It is not very expensive and fairly easy to set up a basic site in just a couple of hours.
- Use your own pictures when you can but if you need stock photos, there are a number of sites you can purchase photos from or even get free photos as well. Google, free stock photos and a number of websites will populate. Some of our favorites include Pexels, Dreamstime, and 123rf.
- Market Research & Professional Development – Learn more about your industry, growing a business and how to lead. You know that feeling you have when you come back from a really good professional training? Where you are motivated and can’t wait to implement the new things you just learned. You can still get that feeling; there is so much information to glean from books, podcasts or seminars.
- Books on Leadership, Communication, Marketing, Entrepreneurship
- Virtual Training from the Library or check industry associations for virtual alternatives. Depending on your specific role or industry you can also Google online training for “XYZ” and look through your options. There are multiple colleges, training certification organizations that offer specific expertise in your field. Now is a great time to update your skillset from photography to show off your products or services, to a particular business issue like accounting, organizing, or scheduling.
- Implement Systems – Systems can be great for your business. They help you to respond faster, not have to duplicate processing over and over, batch tasks and can help you run more efficiently.
- Set up e-mail autoresponders
- Create checklists for repetitive tasks
- Organize your physical and digital files
- Update your customer databases
- Set up e-mail lists and clean up your contacts
- Clean out your inbox
- Set up online recurring payments
- Tackle that project you’ve been avoiding. We all have projects that we have been procrastinating about that we mean to do. They may seem to be too much time, energy or they will be too disruptive to business. Think of how good you’ll feel when it’s done. And it could be a nice distraction.
- Update your website
- Launch an e-commerce site
- Reorganize your office or store layout
- Upgrade computer systems
- Review resources – Check out what resources may be available to you. Maybe there are grants or opportunities available to you. Check our COVID-19 Business Resource Page and research other grant opportunities within your discipline. Help us know where you’re struggling and what assistance you need. We can advocate for you and your business and point you to resources or just serve as a sounding board.
- Find a Mentor – It’s nice to get the perspective of someone who’s been there. And while you’ll probably be bereft of finding someone who’s gone through this exactly; you can certainly find someone who has weathered storms before.
- Buffalo Niagara SCORE
- The Woman’s Business Center at Canisius College
- The Small Business Administration (SBA)
- The Growth Coach of WNY
- Utilizing the Chamber’s Business Directory to find help or to talk with
- Get a Different Perspective – Look at your company as if it was someone else’s. What advice would you give them? How does your customer see your business? What suggestions might they have for you? If you were to start all over; would you do anything differently? Are there things that you are doing that don’t provide value? Are their things that could be added that would create value?
- Speak up – Keep communications with your customers and supporters and other businesses.
- Let your customers know how they can support you during this time. Continue to post to your social media and send out e-newsletters. They want to hear from you.
- Communicate with other businesses. Check-in with your peer group or find one! See what other people are doing, communicate and collaborate. Network and connect through phone, e-mail or online business groups and virtual meet-ups. Don’t let the isolation bear down on you. It’s nice to reconnect and realize that other businesses are facing the same challenges you are. Use telecommunication resources like Zoom, Facetime, GoogleHangouts or even just call them on the phone.
- Collaborate and Share Resources – Look for collaborations. Are there ways you can partner with other businesses and pool resources? Could you barter services during this time? Maybe you have a knack for accounting or a flair for design that another business may be lacking but they could provide you with marketing or technical support.
- Get creative – Are there other ways that you can provide value to your customers? Can you offer services or inventory in a different way? Could you offer online training or sales, virtual updates, delivery options, meetups or classes? Now is the time to step out and try something different. You’ve got nothing to lose and could potentially have a lot to gain.
- Support Others – What will you have wished that you had done with this time looking back? Are there opportunities that you can support or offer your time to organizing? Everyone is going to be feeling the effects of this. Reach out to your local nonprofit or check-in with at-risk populations in your community if you have something to offer. At the very least use your platform to share what others are doing.
- Breathe – Things are tough now, but nothing is permanent. Take a step back sometimes. It can be overwhelming and scary, so much uncertainty. Take some time away from the business. Connect with family and friends. Reconnect with nature. Meditate. Get some rest. Take care of yourself and your body. Know that you are doing everything you can and allow that somethings that are outside your control. Most importantly, know that you are not alone; everyone is feeling uncertain. No one knows what the future holds. Prepare as much as you can so that when it does bounce back; you’ll be ready, stronger than ever.