In Australia, our response to the possible threats of Covid-19 was relatively swift and decisive. Over a series of days and weeks, we saw the full and partial shut-down of entire industries. To make it through the epidemic, here’s our essential guide to a Small Business Response to Covid-19…
Traditional “bricks & mortar” businesses could no longer rely on foot traffic to fill their store fronts. Real estate agencies weren’t allowed to hold open home inspections or auctions. Hospitality-based businesses were forced to provide take-away only or shut their doors entirely. Small businesses everywhere must focus their efforts online to survive, and in a post-covid world, it’s these businesses that will reap the benefits and thrive against competitors who have gone into hibernation to “just get through the epidemic”.
Here are five essential steps I recommend to help ensure your business not only survives online but thrives well beyond 2020…
1. Design A Website
Your company’s website is the central connector point to your online presence. It doesn’t need to be flashy or complex. In fact, more often than not, the simpler it is, the more functional it is for users of all abilities. A basic website can be created in no time at all with the right tools. Google even offer a free website builder! Keep in mind though there are a few mores steps involved in making a successful website. Here are 5 points you should keep follow to compete this first step.
5 STEPS TO BUILDING A WEBSITE
1. Choose a company to host your site
2. Choose your site builder
3. Outline your web pages
4. Optimise your website for search
5. Set up payment your processor (if selling)
2. Get Your Business Onto “Google My Business”
As the effects from Covid-19 continue to impact society, people are turning to Google to ensure businesses are open, what hours of operation they have or just to find a phone number to call and ask. This is where your Google My Business account comes into play. On top of business hours you will also display your address, photos, most importantly, reviews across Google search and Google Maps. The higher number of 4 and 5 star reviews you have, the better visibility your business will have in the search rankings.
Remember to update any of your business operations if they’ve changed because of Covid-19. If you change your business hours, record it. If you change of phone number, record it. Use this tool to notify your customers of any changes to your business.
3. Engage With Your Customers Using Social Media
You can guarantee that your customers and prospective customers will want to know how you’re dealing with the pandemic and what they can expect from your business service-wise. Some will turn to Google or your website but social media users will most likely look you up on Facebook or Instagram first.
If they can’t find you on social, they’re less likely to trust you’re still open. In the same vein, if they don’t see a stream of regular, new posts, they will think you’re closed. The majority of people on social media believe these channels to be more up-to-date than any other. Creating a free business page on Facebook is super easy. Creating good content that engages customers is a whole different ball-game and whilst you can definitely do it yourself, it’s often best to leave this to the professionals.
4. If You Sell “Things”, Get Them Online
Traditional retail is struggling with little-to-no store visits but ecommerce is an attractive opportunity to keep your sales coming in, even if your customers can’t get out. The beauty of this approach over a traditional shop front is you can sell via multiple platforms for very little cost.
To start selling your products online, create a Google Merchant Centre account and upload your first products online. This process can even be automated to help keep your products, prices, and inventory updated on Google with less hassle.
Once your first products are online, you’ll have to regularly optimise your Google shopping feed to ensure searchers can easily find your stuff.
5. Promote your business online
If done correctly, online promotion doesn’t have to cost the earth. But, even the best SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) can be supported by some additional traffic.
Advertising across search and social is relatively straight-forward and extremely cost-effective. A small budget will drive a serious amount of extra traffic, potential sales and develop loyal customers.
- Google Ads: Allows you to reach customers who search for terms which include keywords for your business. You only pay when customers click on your ads. The google network is of course broader than just search – you can also reach audiences across Google Maps, Display Ads, Gmail, and YouTube.
- Facebook Ads & Instagram Ads: With over 70% of Australians active on Facebook, Instagram and Messenger, Facebook Ads is the best way to reach audiences on social media. Facebook advertisers can reach broad audiences at very low costs and with detailed targeting options you can reach the exact audience you want with laser-point accuracy.
Advertising online might sound complicated at first, but learning PPC (Pay-Per-Click) marketing can be simple with the right partner. As you’ve just read, starting the basics can actually be quite straight-forward.
For the next-step stuff, my preference is to focus on teaching you how to fish rather than selling you the fish over and over again. I’m here to help small businesses learn how to launch and optimise their activity online.
A Gen-X’er who started my career in marketing 25 years ago, I’ve worked in senior management across multiple industries including call centre services, hospitality, FMCG, construction & real estate. I earned two degrees – one in Marketing and one in IT, which tends to work really well when it comes to digital marketing.
I’m a digital evangelist and wanna-be futurist. I have a keen eye on what’s coming next, both in the mid and long term future. I design systems & marketing programs based on extensive research, taking leaps of judgement to predict the next steps for the businesses I work with.
The world of marketing is changing at a rate of knots and I find myself constantly improving on the skills I have already learned to ensure those that I work with are always one step ahead.