My heart goes out to all of the small business owners during this pandemic. We’re all feeling the effects of what COVID-19 has done to our everyday routines, but small business owners are feeling it twice: once for their own personal lives, and again for the business they have built. In the midst of the stressful decisions a lot of us are having to make, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and shut down completely. But let me give you this hope: There has never been a better time for entrepreneurs to get creative! People who are quarantined...your potential customers...are staying in their homes waiting out this storm and they’re hungry for human connection. NOW is the time to market. NOW is the time to give value to your community in an impactful way. NOW is the time to show up for your audience.
Here are my 5 tips to continue building your brand, even if you can't be face-to-face with your customers:
1. Define your “Why”
You’ve probably heard this before. “Why do you do what you do?” It can actually be a difficult question to answer, especially during the times we’re facing. If you’ve allowed yourself to fall into a scarcity mindset, the only answer you may be coming up with is “Umm...because I need to pay my bills?!” I get it. But let’s use this exercise to pull us out of that mindset and better our ability to tell our story to potential customers. The more you define your story to your audience, the easier it will be for them to make a personal connection with your brand. If you already have a “why”, now is a great time to revisit it and make any edits. I promise it will light your fire again if you let it.
Bonus: If you’re having trouble answering the “why” question, it helped me to phrase my questions to myself like this...
-“Why do you LOVE what you do?”
-“What makes it better than your last job?”
-“What is one aspect of your business that you couldn’t live without?”
Here’s my why.
2. Invest in Education
As a small business owner, you are your brand. The more you know, the more expertise your brand gains! Use this time to invest in your education so that you can serve your clients better than ever before. Always wanted to take that course on business finances? Had trouble finding the time to learn about that new management system before? Now is your chance! There are so many great resources out there and many companies are offering discounts on their courses, services and more in light of this whole quarantine situation. There’s never been a better time to learn something new!
If you’re in NC, our small business center network is an incredible FREE resource. You can find webinars, up-to-date articles and information on confidential business counseling HERE.
3. Plan out your Content
You can know everything about your “why” and educate yourself like crazy, but no one is going to know you are there with a solution to their problem if you don’t get in front of them! This means creating relevant, engaging content that is easy for people to access, and doing it consistently. This is the perfect time for you to start a routine for planning out your content so that you can stay top-of-mind with your audience.
Remember that consistency really is key! Especially on social media. The algorithm is more likely to show your posts and stories to people who engage with them regularly, so guess what? You need to show up regularly so people can engage. Many social media strategists recommend posting every single day, and I agree! But if you’re just beginning your journey to content consistency and this feels overwhelming, I would suggest shooting for 3 times per week and using stories to fill in the off days.
There are lots of great apps for planning out your social media posts. Here’s a link to the one I like to use: The Preview App
Bonus tip: People are connecting with PEOPLE on social media, not businesses. I could write an entire post on the type of content you should be sharing, but for the sake of brevity, just think about getting more personal by posting photos of yourself, talking about how your business fits into your everyday life, and giving people “behind the scenes” looks into the actual work it takes to produce your products.
4. Offer Something for Free
When you want to sign up for a new online service, what’s the first thing you look for? Yup. The “Free Trial” button. Consumers have been trained to look for value before buying, and the more value you’re willing to give up front, the more trust you’re going to build with potential customers. This is where you can really get creative! You have the opportunity to not only market your business, but also to positively impact your local community and reward your followers during this difficult time. Here are some ideas:
-Clothing boutiques offer free delivery to their local area
-Interior designers offer a free virtual home consult
-Beauty Consultants offer free “mini spa” kits through the mail
5. Consider a Remote Branding Shoot
Okay, so you’ve done all of the above and you’re ready to get out there and grow your brand! Now if you only had some better photos to post…
Good photos matter. They catch the viewer’s attention and draw them in, and that double-take factor is exactly what you need to “stop the scroll”. Even though social distancing is in full swing, you can still get great photos of your products with a remote branding shoot! This simply means that instead of your photographer coming to you, you ship your products to your photographer. They take photos in their own homes, mail the products back to you and you get a gallery of professional images you’ll be proud to show the world!
This is an easy, quick way to give you the tools you need to grow your brand during this pandemic, and it’s a great mini introduction to a full branding shoot if you’ve never had one for your business!
Shameless plug: I offer these. ;) Get in touch HERE if you’d like to learn more!
Lastly, take a deeeeeeep breath. It may feel like things are spinning out of control right now, but I promise that if you look at it from a different perspective, you’ve been given an amazing opportunity to grow your business and impact your audience for the better. If you do the work and show up for people, you might just be amazed at how they will show up for you.
Let me be the first. Need anything? Reach out.