It’s a challenging time to be a small business. A recent report by Facebook and Small Business Roundtable found that 31 percent of small businesses aren’t operating right now because of COVID-related shutdowns. Of those that are, many have had to adapt some or all of their processes to accommodate the new normal.
If your business is in the latter group and looking for ways to get the attention of prospective customers, it’s important that your outreach efforts strike the right balance between commanding attention and showing sensitivity to the difficulties many people are facing. Here are five ways to do just that so your business can stay vibrant during the global pandemic.
1: Send a Hand-Written Note
No matter what industry you’re in or who you’re selling to, a hand-written note is likely to stand out in the day’s mail delivery. In the era of social distancing, a personal note can have an especially powerful impact.
There’s no need to actively sell in the note; instead, thank the prospect for their time so far and remind them that you’re there to answer questions. Aim to include a detail from a conversation you’ve had.
According to research, that kind of personal touch can reduce acquisition costs by up to 50 percent, increase revenue by up to 15 percent, and make your marketing spend up to 30 percent more efficient.
2: Send a Gift Card for a Local Business
While nearly a third of small businesses aren’t operating right now, those still open are eager for customers. If you’d normally meet a prospect over coffee or a meal, try sending them a gift card to a local place that’s offering takeout or delivery. Add a personal note explaining the gesture.
This kind of outreach gives you an excuse to make contact, fits naturally within the flow of a sales conversation, and shows that you care about the wellbeing of their community.
What’s more, research from the University of Toronto found that people think experiential gifts (like having a meal delivered) are better at improving relationships than physical gifts (like a branded mug).
3: Highlight What’s Happening in Their Industry
Another way to get prospects’ attention is to help amplify their voice within their industry.
For example, if your business sells recruiting software, you might use your Twitter presence to retweet local companies that are hiring. If you sell to law firms, you might create a blog post featuring tips for making the most of a remote summer internship, from employees at client and prospect firms.
If your business already has a marketing program, tweaking it to feature more industry insiders and experts – who are both key influencers within your target market and prospective clients themselves – should be relatively easy.
Reaching out to these experts to create your marketing materials provides an ongoing reason to connect with prospective clients. Sharing their insights across your existing marketing materials helps keep you engaged in relevant industry conversations.
What’s more, this strategy shows that you’re invested in supporting the community of people you sell to.
4: Give a Gift that Gives Back
I mentioned that experiential gifts tend to be more impactful than purely physical gifts. But these days, the definition of “experiential” is evolving.
For anyone under a stay-at-home order, receiving a physical gift in the mail can be a welcome experience that breaks up the day.
The most impactful physical gifts benefit people other than the recipient. For example, try sending coffee and a mug from a company that employs people with disabilities, a notebook made with fully sustainable materials, or a food basket from a company that employs survivors of abuse.
A gift like this sends the message that you care not only about your prospect but also about improving your local community. world.
5: Support the Causes They Care About
Small businesses can demonstrate that they care about prospects beyond their ability to contribute to the bottom line by supporting causes that align with prospects’ values or benefit their larger industry or community.
For example, if you serve tech companies, you might consider sponsoring a scholarship to a coding bootcamp. If you sell to property-casualty insurance companies, you might donate to a disaster relief organization. Businesses that sell exclusively in one geographical area might sponsor a local food or PPE drive to help essential workers.
Make information about your donation – and how it aligns with your desire to serve your clients and their industry or community – available on your website and weave it into sales conversations as part of your larger value proposition.
Prospects Care that You Care
Operating a small business is challenging in the best of times. Today, many businesses have fewer opportunities to get in front of their prospects, even as those prospects may need their services more than ever.
By finding creative ways to show prospects that you care about them, their communities, and the people who matter to them, you’ll catch their attention and improve your odds of closing a sale – all by taking action that makes your community a better place.
Leeatt Rothschild has over 15 years of experience at the intersection of business, sustainability, and brand purpose. In 2016 she founded Packed with Purpose, a corporate gifting company that embeds social impact into the everyday act of gift-giving, from empowering underserved women with job skills to supporting sustainability efforts. Twitter handle: @PackedwPurpose