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This blog was written during the 2020 COVID Pandemic.

In the midst of a pandemic, what your brand does today will make or break its future. Not to sound alarmist, but perhaps now is the time to sound the alarms? Even if the entire world shuts down, as business owners, we have to keep moving. Our employees depend on us, our customers depend on us, and the economy depends on us. We have to keep the wheels turning and get creative. Your storefront may be shut down, but now is NOT the time for your brand to go silent. It’s the time to join the conversation, break through the noise, be transparent and do your best to spread joy in the face of darker times.

The truth is, “great brands build their equity during crises like this.” The best way to keep your brand thriving in the face of hardship is to do what is best for ALL, not to do what is best for profit. That said, the way you approach marketing is going to look a little different (but you didn’t need us to tell you that.)

As we touched on in How Your Small Business Should Communicate During A Crisis, leveraging your social media, email newsletters, websites and local media to help stay in front of your customers and communicate updates is vital, but how you do this is key. EVERYONE is on the internet right now. Let the world know you’re still here and we’re in this together. Here are just a few ways your brand can stay social while social distancing:

Social Media

This one is a given and perhaps one of the most important. Why? Because you’re opening up a space for conversation with your brand loyalists. They’re going to have questions and it’s in your best interest to be as responsive as possible. This is a chance for your customers to be alerted about changes to your business, even if they weren’t necessarily looking for information about your brand.

In addition to keeping your customers informed on sanitation measures, hours of operations, to-go options, etc during this WEIRD time, we have the opportunity to produce unique content even in the heartbreak of temporary closures. Keep a few of these tactics in mind:

Add a COVID highlight to your Instagram

If your business is still open, keep a highlight with any operational changes for easy-to-find updates.

Keep Engaging With Your Audience

Utilize polls and questions to keep the conversation going between you and your audience, even if your doors are closed.

Put Together Tutorials or Challenges for your Audience

Teach your followers how to do something new as it relates to your business. Are you a bar or restaurant? Share some recipes. Do you offer entertainment? Challenge your audience to do a dance or write a song, then share that content to your own social media channels.

Your Website

This is your brand’s digital headquarters and likely the first place people will look for answers. We suggest adding a banner or web alert to get the more pressing information seen right away. If you have a lot of changes in place, it may also be beneficial to consider creating a landing page outlining all of the information your customer needs to know at this time.

You should also be considering how you can shift your business to monetize from online sales. Restaurants and bars are adding shop merchandise to their sites for support purchases, online gift card purchases are a must, local coffee shops are suddenly selling whole bean by the pound digitally and brick and mortar retail shops are taking their items online for shipping or local pickup. Allowing your customers to shop while social distancing is a win-win!

If you already have an online store, you may also want to take this opportunity to streamline your shipping process using an ecommerce shipping software. Now that people are urged to stay at home, ecommerce activity is at an all-time high.

Shipping plays a huge role in the quality of customer service you provide and your customer retention rate. Investing in improving your shipping process is a no-brainer if you want your ecommerce business to survive and thrive during these times.

If your business needs help creating an online shop on your website, reach out to us! We’d be happy to help.

Email Marketing

We’re well aware of how inundated your inbox is with COVID-19 updates. We recommend you use this avenue sparingly. If you’ve already sent out an email outlining the safety measures your brand is taking, great! If not, consider what you will be doing to add value to your customer at this time. Are you offering any discounts? Providing any free resources? Loop this information in the same email while addressing your safety precautions.

Google My Business

People will Google your brand for answers so it’s important to make sure you’re providing them with the most accurate information. Adjust your store hours if you haven’t already and share an update to your GMB page about any changes that might be going on.

Also, don’t forget to keep an eye on your Google Answers section of your account. This is where customers can ask questions about your business. Either yourself or other internet users can respond to these questions. Stay on top of these to make sure people searching about your business are getting the most up to date information.

P.S. Did you know that Google temporarily suspended reviews during the Coronavirus pandemic to keep out any unwanted reviews regarding business changes. Good looking out!

No matter what changes your business is implementing, keep the conversation going. At a time where we’re being encouraged to stay apart, remaining connected is easier than ever. Behind every brand, there’s a group of humans who are struggling to survive this mess too. Providing support AND receiving support from our communities is extremely vital. Don’t hesitate to get creative in making your brand’s voice heard!

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