Update October 21, 2020: I first wrote this post in March 2020 when people in the United States locked down due to COVID-19 concerns and fears. It’s now fall 2020 and COVID restrictions are still an issue for many, but the reality is that this type of situation can happen to any of our businesses, for a variety of reasons and at any time. As a result, I’ve updated the post to give you tips for what to do during times that are uneasy. It could be a natural weather event, a virus, political unrest, or something else.
To that end, when fearful times strike – we can take action to abate the fear.
I’ve been through a few fearful times in my work career:
- A massive flood hit my region in 1994
- The blizzard of 1996
- The housing crisis
- Most recently – the COVID-19 pandemic
During each uneasy time period I’ve picked up tips from mentors and watched others navigate the uncertainty in positive ways.
In this post I’m sharing those ideas with you. You’ll find actions that you can take during any difficult time to sustain your business and meet the needs of your customers and followers.
While these tips are geared to our clients at SGL (health, wellness, and disability businesses), any small business will find helpful ideas here that you can work with!
1. Keep Messaging
Keep putting out content.
Do acknowledge the situation in a way that suits your personality and brand.
2. Project Calm
Consider posting content that is fun, inspirational, happy, entertaining or along a similar vein.
Be sensitive to the current issues, while offering some content that will bring smiles to people’s faces. Be like Dumbledore in Harry Potter – when he said that all we needed to do was remember to turn on the light during dark times.
3. Address Questions
Are there questions your customers may have as a result of the situation?
Questions that you can help with?
Examples could include:
- if you sell a food product, you may want to address hygiene practices in the preparation, storage, handling and shipping of your product
- if you sell non-food products, you may also want to address hygiene practices related to packaging and shipping of your products
- your customers may need to know if you are open for business (wellness centers, doctors offices)
- are you doing anything special as a result of this situation – let them know
- for wellness centers, what information and ideas can you share from your knowledge that will help people during this time?
If there are questions to address for your customers and audience – think through the answers, develop the messaging to share those answers, and then send out your messages.
Keep Using C.O.P.E.
Remember to practice C.O.P.E. and post your message on all your platforms – from website, to email, to social media.
C.O.P.E. is a core concept of content marketing. It stands for: Create Once, Publish Everywhere.
How Can We Help All Small Business?
Most small businesses I knew during COVID-19 experienced significant concern about how the situation would impact their businesses and their livelihoods.
For example, in Pennsylvania where I live, the schools closed in mid-March 2020 and remained closed for the rest of the school year. One impact of that decision was that many workers who are paid hourly, such as bus drivers and aides and custodial staff, lost their income. While the government made relief available, it did not match their previous income. That shortfall ended up impacting their ability to purchase services and products! And that situation affected many small businesses. Businesses just like yours! And that was just one group of individuals – think of the many people who will be hard hit by the restrictions.
What can we do about it? How can we get creative?
Here are a few ideas we came up with that you could use in this or similar situations:
- Take payment in trade: barter your services/product for services and product that you can use
- Establish delayed billing and/or payment plans allowing customers to settle up with you at a later date
- Look for where there is need AND the money to pay for meeting that need.
Look for Opportunity
In spite of the chaos there is always some type of opportunity. Be watching for it.
I once worked at a hotel in a city that experienced a flood. Two weeks worth of conferences and overnight business cancelled within 24 hours. It was an enormous loss of revenue. But guess what happened? FEMA employees descended on the city and what did they need? Hotels to stay in, restaurants to eat at, and places to meet. Presto! Business!
Look for these types of opportunities for your own business! Here are two ideas we came up during COVID-19 that could apply in many future scenarios:
- People need credible health and wellness information. What can you share that will help them boost their physical and mental health during this time? As people working in health and wellness we have an arsenal of knowledge that is deeper than the average person. How can we share that wealth? Pen a quick eBook and offer it at an affordable price. Start a Facebook Group where you can deliver information, answer questions, and moderate discussions. While not paid, this type of activity will lead to paying business.
- Consider offering product discounts and sales. Reduce the price of your products temporarily to account for the situation. These types of gestures produces goodwill with your customers!
Would you like some help sorting out what to do?
We’re here for you and very happy to support you if and when you face a situation like the COVID-19 crisis.
A call with a peer in the space can be very helpful for sort out messaging and actions. This is not our first rodeo with this type of thing – we have been through September 11, weather and other local disasters, and high security situations. We have lots of ideas based on our past experiences for how to weather this current event!
You be feel a little isolated and have all sorts of questions and ideas spinning around in your head. If that sounds familiar, please contact us and let’s schedule a time to talk! We’ll help work through the options and establish action steps!
Current and past clients please reach out to schedule phone or video calls. Concerned about payment? Please don’t be concerned. We can establish delayed billing and payment plans.
Are you a new client? Looking for help? We’d be happy to support you as well. Working through a situation like this one can be a great way to forge a new business relationship! As new clients we’ll request a credit card number to hold on file. All calls are billed at $250 per hour. As with current clients we are happy to discuss delayed billing and/or a payment plan. Reach out today!
Stay strong and positive!