Something that we at 3SixtySMB have been educating the small business market about for years, has been the need to have a digital and online presence The Importance of Having an Online Digital Presence for Local Small Businesses. Yet, some still haven’t made the change. As a result, slowly but surely, businesses that have not adopted digital and online strategies have been disappearing from the landscape one by one. However, up until recently, it has been process that has been slowly but surely killing them off… But, given the current economic pressures with essentially the entire world on lockdown, businesses no longer have years to make the shift. With most small businesses looking at significant loss of revenue, and in some cases losing their complete revenue streams, they are now looking at potentially days or weeks before they may be forced to close their doors forever. In this article, we are going to cover some quick tips a small business can use to pivot their strategies with regards to their digital and online presences. What we are about to share is not going to close the revenue gap completely, but it will hopefully provide enough revenue to keep the doors open enough to make it past these troubling times.
Let’s face it, unless you are Reckitt Benckiser (Lysol), a toilet paper manufacturer, grocery store, or Amazon, your business is going to have some difficult times ahead. The larger well-funded or profitable companies will have the cash to weather the storm, but for many small businesses, they simply don’t… The fact is that essentially the entire world has been told to stay home and it is putting a strain on businesses everywhere. This has also emphasized in an extreme way, that when you rely solely on foot traffic, you are setting yourself up for failure. In today’s market, it is important to be online because that is where your prospects are, full stop. Here are a few quick tips that can help small businesses readily make the transition:
Social Media – Start with social media first. Why? Well, a social media profile is essentially the easiest process to start. And with everyone basically trapped indoors, they are spending significantly more time on it. This is a topic that we tackled not too long ago How To Develop A Social Media Marketing Strategy For Your Business, however when looking to develop a strategy, you need to be quick. Start with setting up a business profile on the major channels (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram), and begin posting right away. At its core, social media takes only minutes to set up and has become a fundamental way for communicating with your core prospects and clients in real-time.
As an example, if you’re a restaurant, you can use your social channels to let people know about your adjusted hours, specials, menu items and other things such as that. Again, the core goal of using social media is to use it in a way to communicate with your communities in retail-time, and trust me, it works. Over the past few weeks, the way several small businesses have been communicating on Facebook has enticed my family to grab takeout or delivery from them multiple times.
E-Mail – Email is another quick and effective way for communicating, and quite honestly, something many small businesses just do not know how to properly utilize. This was another topic covered not too long ago Why Email Marketing is Broken, and How To Fix It. The key, if you do not know how to get started, is to think of all the email addresses you’ve captured over the years. Most small businesses capture emails to some extent, we just find that many simply do not do anything with them. Now is the time to dust off those emails, build a list and start communicating… Again, similar to social media, email marketing can be a way to communicate in almost real-time with your customer base with little to no effort. The key thing to remember is to keep your e-mails educational and informative, and stay away from abusing the list by trying to sell too much.
Website – We are absolutely blown away at how many small businesses do not have websites set up… Let’s face it, the yellow pages are nonexistent, and with the fact that everyone is essentially confined to their homes for the next few weeks, you are getting zero business without a website. We get it, building a website can be a daunting task. The reality is, building a website can be fairly easy, as there are so many companies that offer plug and play website building options that enable almost anyone to build a website overnight. The goal in times like these is to start simple and build a website that covers the basics such as: product and services overview, address, hours, and contact details. Once you get the basics down, you can slowly build out the website to be more comprehensive over time. Services like WIX and WordPress offer options that are extremely low cost and fairly easy to build out with very little experience and expense.
Switch to Virtual Phones – Most businesses rely on traditional wired phones for their primary communication method. When people are in the office, they work very well, however situations like this can cause huge issues. There are many businesses today, that simply are not allowed to have employees in the building and as a result, there is no one answering the phones. This directly results in loss of business and frustrated customers… Now is the time to look into services such as Comcast Business, 8×8, and Fuze which offer virtual phone systems. These systems do not only work the same way a traditional phone system works, but in times like this, allow employees to take “business” calls directly from their computers or mobile phones without skipping a beat. It may sound like a difficult process, but transferring your existing business lines to something such as one of these services is fairly easy to do.
Offer Alternatives – This suggestion goes beyond the concept of digital and online but really focuses on thinking outside of the box for keeping a business afloat in difficult times. As an example, when the governor of Massachusetts first announced the stay home order a number of weeks ago, many small businesses were forced to close their doors overnight. But, that doesn’t necessarily have to be the case… Again, I will be using restaurants as an example; there are many traditional restaurants that fell victim and were forced to close doors because they only offered dine-in options. We urge these traditional restaurants to think outside of what is traditional and find ways to offer takeout and delivery alternatives. This can not only provide you with a small revenue source but potentially give employees that would have otherwise been put out, an option to collect a paycheck as well. In cases like this, nothing will replenish your revenue stream completely, but something is certainly better than nothing. Especially when facing potentially laying off employees or going out of business.
Nothing is going to replace 100% of your lost revenue during times like these, but the more that you do as a business to shift to a digital and online presence, can and will help mitigate any losses you might be taking on… Also, when things do come back to normal, you’ll have a competitive edge that you didn’t have once before. Good luck and please feel free to reach out to us if you ever are in the need of help.