I don’t know anyone who hasn’t been affected by the current corona crisis in one way or another. The pressure is most definitely on for businesses, large and small, to embrace new ways of working to accommodate social distancing and ensure your business stays afloat.
But fear not, here are ten ways to help you gain back control, boost your business and prepare for the ultimate comeback.
A word of warning: the below may involve you stepping out of your comfort zone…
1. Embrace social media
I appreciate that social media is not everyone’s favourite ‘thing’ to do. But now more than ever it’s vital to bite the bullet and embrace social media in order to ensure your business survives and thrives in the current climate. By showing up consistently, you’re reminding your customers of your brand, product or service and most importantly how you can help them during this time.
With social distancing here to stay for at least another few weeks, platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest provide an ideal way to engage with your audiences.
2. Show up on video
So many people find getting in front of the camera scary, but with video becoming more popular than ever now is your chance to practice. According to Hubspot, 72% of customers would rather learn about a product or service by way of video compared to text… So, what are you waiting for?
3. Read a business book
We all have piles of books gathering dust, so what better time is there to gain some inspiration and insights for your business than now, when we are actively being told to stay at home.
If you don’t have anything waiting for you to read and need to get something new, take a look at Amazon for reviews to see which you’d most benefit from. You could even put the question out there to your peers on social media to see what they’re reading and spark an interesting conversation at the same time!
4. Upskill online
There is an abundance of fantastic courses available at our fingertips. From free online downloads and YouTube tutorials to paid for courses whereby you can actually gain a formal qualification, the choices are limitless.
Invest in your growth now by identifying what skills you could improve on and which courses will help you do this. Again, this is something you could use as a conversation starter amongst your audience, this could prove useful to others as well as yourself.
5. Give back to your local community
If you find you do have some spare time, think of ways you could support local people, businesses or volunteer in your communities. The NHS has recently been crying out for people to support them in lots of ways. This will not only give you the feel-good factor, it is also great for your brand perception and offers an opportunity to forge some fantastic new relationships.
6. Engage with the media
There is so much potential to make connections with the media in your street, your community, your region, your country. If you are locked down so are they – mostly. Don’t forget that journalists are seen as key workers. Why? As a channel for information when information is power.
When interacting with a journalist engagement is key. Leave behind a selling mentality. Build a relationship but asking what they are looking for and help them by providing insight, comment or a story yourself or directing them to someone you know who fits. Do this and they’ll be back.
And if you get some visibility yourself then say thank you and keep in touch. If they are local, invite them out to lunch when the restrictions are lifted. They love lunch.
7. Set up an online support group
Consider creating an online group for local business owners to support each other. Following on from point six, we’re all in this together so let’s help each other weather the storm by providing advice and support freely and willingly. You never know when you might benefit from this in return.
At times like this it’s important to remember the benefits of community over competition and how collaborations can boost your business in so many ways. Your fellow local business owners will likely be facing similar challenges right now, so to be able to talk, discuss and sympathise will be invaluable to them and to you. And, your local profile will benefit no end, which will be so useful when normality resumes.
8. Research and plan
Use this time to develop new ideas. Think about where you want to take your business and put plans in motion now so you can position yourself to be stronger than ever when we come out of the other side of all of this.
Connect with your customers and former customers, talk to them about how they are feeling. Also, use this as an opportunity for reflection, what have they struggled with prior to this, what were their pain points, what can you adapt and develop to help support them out of this. Right now is an opportunity to develop and future proof your plans and to help others.
9. Give value wherever you can
As we touched on in point six, now is not the time to be hard-selling to your customers. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t promote your services / products, but you need to do it in a tactful way that adds value.
Consider the 80/20 rule: 80 per cent of your communications should be adding value by sharing tips, insights, entertainment and expertise on how you can help others. 20 per cent should then remind people of your services or products, and how you do this is up to you, there is no harm in letting people know what you have and how you can help them from a business point of view. Although it feels strange right now, the world hasn’t ended, we will bounce back and business will resume. Don’t miss out on future opportunities, just approach everything from a human perspective.
Working to this rule will build your credibility, positioning you as the expert and you’ll be the first person your audience thinks of when they need your help.
10. Take action
Probably the most important thing I can say. Don’t let the situation and current climate overwhelm you. Put a plan in place to make the most of the additional time you may have.
Whilst we can’t control our external environment, we can decide how we respond to it, there will be winners and losers at the end of this.
We will likely never again be told to do less, to stay at home, to take a step back. It’s up to you how you see this – barrier or opportunity?
You can embrace this as an opportunity and use the time to develop your business, your plans, your ideas, or you can sit on the sofa a binge watch boxsets while grumbling about it as a barrier.
Either is absolutely ok, but only one will set you up for success when we get back to business as normal… Which position would you rather be in?
Fiona Scott has more than 30-years media experience as a journalist in print, broadcast and television, which she still maintains while running a successful media consultancy from her home in Wiltshire – a county she is passionate about supporting. She’s also a guest director on the BBC day- time series Flog It!, and is an ambassador for Swindon 105.5 community radio.
With a vested interest in supporting SMEs, Fiona now uses her extensive career to support and coach business owners with their own media journeys – offering practical and supportive advice to help them to tell their stories and show off their best assets. For more information visit https://www.fionascottmediaconsultancy.co.uk/
Fiona is also doing a huge amount to support SMEs through the Corona crisis, especially through her Facebook group SMEs vs Coronavirus.