Countless small to medium businesses (SMBs) are struggling with keeping their ventures afloat due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Whether you’re running a photography business, an accountant, consultant, or trainer, it’s all the same — we’re all affected by the pandemic.
With implemented community quarantines in countless places worldwide, business owners are driven to a corner as they are prevented from doing several crucial tasks that keep their businesses running (e.g., meeting with clients and suppliers, handing off products, and running the production process, etc.)
The silver lining, however, is how the internet has made it possible for several SMBs to operate despite the pandemic.
If your business is severely impacted by the adverse effects of the COVID-19, and your looking for ways to leverage the internet to keep your business afloat despite the uncertain times, then you’re in the right place.
In this guide, we’re going to look into four ways SMBs can use the internet to cope with the COVID-19 crisis.
1. Bring your business online using cloud-based management platform
Think of vcita as your online office where you can run your business smoothly.
It is an all-in-one business management app that helps businesses manage payments, appointments, clients, and more from a single platform.
The cloud solution offers an array of essential tools like a client portal, invoicing, and billing to help streamline your customer relationship management, marketing, online payment, client communication, and more.
With vcita’s online calendar and scheduling feature, you can provide online self-service booking that lets your customers easily book online appointments.
This is essential since it allows your clients to fill up your available time slots and help make sure your schedule is filled up with online appointments that will turn into income.
After your customers book their appointments, you can run your online sessions through the app’s Zoom integration.
You can connect your specific online service to Zoom, and vcita’s system will automatically generate a URL that is unique to each event or appointment, and only you and your invitees will see the link.
The same URL will show in the booking email, details, and SMS notifications in your customers’ client portal accounts.
With online management platforms like vcita, you can bring your small business online. The platform lets you communicate seamlessly with your clients in times of crisis and maintain business continuity by leveraging the internet.
2. Double down your customer engagement efforts through social media
With governments imposing community quarantine, many people turn to social media to stay connected, updated on the COVID-19 pandemic, or simply to have fun.
You can use this opportunity to connect with your target audience and existing clients better by boosting your customer engagement efforts.
For instance, you can deliver simple messages that talk about the COVID 19 crisis and social responsibility.
However, if you’re curating content about COVID-19 and related updates, make sure that you’re getting them from reliable resources like news websites and government agencies.
To help you curate content more effectively and boost your customer engagement, you can use tools like Buffer.
The tool lets you link your social accounts, like Facebook and Instagram, and schedule your posts across multiple platforms.
You can set your posting schedule, and the tool will automatically publish it for you on the date and time that you want.
Buffer also offers analytics features to track the performance of your posts to help you learn which ones are the most effective and improve your content strategy.
With this, you can automate your social media posts and help streamline your social media marketing efforts while delivering relevant and engaging content at the same time.
3. Offer online events
The call for social distancing and the implementation of community quarantine has canceled a lot of personal, social, business, and other types of events.
However, there is a way for you to take the physical event experience online as a way to increase your brand awareness and market your services.
Plus, online events are excellent strategies for providing value to your target market, educating your customers, spreading information, connecting with your audiences, and more.
Your online events don’t need to be grand undertakings either.
Start with small activities like adding gamification elements to your website and providing discount codes or free consultation as rewards to make your offer more attractive and engaging.
You can also run live events across social media platforms like Facebook and conduct Q&As where you answer questions about your services or related topics in real-time.
To run a Facebook Live event, you can just go to the profile page of your FB account, click on the “Live Video” option, and you’re ready to go.
There are countless ways to engage your customers through online events.
When you find the ones that fit your strategies and brand, you can engage your customers better, form a deeper connection, and make your offer more interesting than simply presenting them to your target market.
4. Publish relevant and timely marketing content
Although you need to keep your business running during this crisis, it’s important that you send the right kind of message — that is, those that convey the help your services can provide to your customers.
After all, you wouldn’t want your services to come off as taking advantage of the situation or your marketing message to seem “tone-deaf.”
This is why it’s crucial to review your content and marketing materials to ensure that you’re communicating a relevant and timely message.
You can audit your existing and upcoming social media posts, ads, blog posts, and other digital content to ensure that their messaging is reflective of the current situation.
For instance, if you’re a fitness coach, it wouldn’t make sense to continue promoting discount offers to gym memberships amid the community quarantine. Instead, you can assess what your would-be customers need while fitting your messaging with the current situation, and offer workout programs that people can do from home with little or no equipment.
Doing so allows your business to be sensitive to the crisis and what people are going through while continuing to offer the services that your target market needs.
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic is changing the way SMBs manage and operate, but with the right online strategies, you can continue to run your business even in this new landscape.
When you can find the best approach for your business and work with the right tools, succeeding even while doing (mostly) everything in the digital space and succeeding becomes achievable.
Smith Willas is a freelance writer, blogger, and digital media journalist. He has a management degree in Supply Chain & Operations Management and Marketing and boasts a wide-ranging background in digital media.