The only certainty in this world is uncertainty, which is why we’ve put together these small business marketing tips that can help owners and staff connect with clients during difficult times. Unfortunately, small businesses and their customers are all too familiar with illnesses, natural disasters, recessions, and other times of uncertainty. While businesses can’t avoid the storm, they can use some best-use marketing practices and lessons to not only weather the storm—but even thrive.
DON’T ignore the source of customers’ anxiety.
The best businesses relate to their customers online the same way they do in-person. Businesses don’t exist in a bubble, and they shouldn’t act like it. Every communication should sound human, including during difficult times. This is a time to recognize their source of anxiety and empathize with customers with social media posts and messages and website messaging. When the next step is not clear, it’s okay for businesses to acknowledge the problem, admit they are in the midst of planning and working on future updates.
As a local business, this is also a chance to be part of the community and share helpful information. Customers appreciate businesses that are there during the good and bad times, sharing resources for assistance and brightening their day.
DO adapt business (and business communications) to customer needs.
Businesses that weather the storm are flexible enough to adapt to the worst situations. In many cases, these situations are not business as normal; savvy business owners and employees are flexible enough to adapt their business practices to meet customer needs. If customers can’t come to them, they make their products available in other ways. When customers’ needs change, businesses recognize this and are flexible enough to alter their business model or hours of operation.
DON’T forget to tell customers about business changes.
A business’ communications about those changes are an integral part of weathering the proverbial storm. If a business has decided to alter their standard operating plan, they need to promptly and succinctly communicate their plans. When a small business is limiting their hours, they need to decide how to tell their customers—and post the information right away. If the business is taking orders over the phone or through a website, the business needs to promptly inform customers of the phone number or website link.
In an incredibly technological world, the communication plan should include emails, social media posts, and website messages. When there is limited internet access, businesses can use word-of-mouth marketing tactics to reach customers.
DON’T miss a customer message.
An uncertain time can be very chaotic, but customers still reach out to businesses via social media and email. Even during difficult times, businesses need to designate a trained staff member to respond promptly to messages and comments. If the comment is public and involves personal information, the staff member should ask the customer to send a private message so the business can resolve the matter without disclosing personal information.
DO take the time to plan for the future.
Even during a crisis, small businesses should plan for the future. Even in a changing climate, businesses should anticipate different scenarios and craft responses for each situation. When a message is communicated to customers, all staff members at the small business should be informed of the content and given messaging for future inquiries.
While a crisis can be very difficult, it is also a time for evaluation. This is a time for businesses to look for gaps in their present marketing, craft a plan to address any issues, and make a plan for any future crises. Businesses can take steps to supplement marketing staffing, improve the speed of responses, and resolve website traffic issues.
DON’T stop communicating.
It’s common for businesses to feel like the crisis is over and their work is done. This stance couldn’t be any more wrong. Small businesses benefit from regular and relevant communications, during and after a difficult time. When the storm is over, this is the time for businesses to make and follow a marketing plan that reaches new local customers and guides a business through the easy and difficult times.