The old saying that every cloud has a silver lining has never been truer than in these extraordinary times we’re all currently living through.
For small businesses, this situation is a heaven-sent chance to tread water.
The invisible spectre of COVID-19 stalking the globe has forced widespread isolation of communities and shutdowns of conventional business activities.
But in our Vermilion Pinstripes business sphere – where we always look for that silver lining to take full advantage of it – COVID-19 has also generated genuine by-products of hope and optimism for the future.
None of us have ever seen a phenomenon of such magnitude, with the ability to bring everyday activities in each corner of the word to shuddering halts.
Watching it all unfold on daily news cycles, there’s no disputing this pandemic’s crushing effects across all aspects of our lives: personal; social; and business.
However, we see this temporary cessation of normal life not just as a barren void – but a unique opportunity to sit back, take stock, reconfigure and plan effectively for the post-COVID-19 world.
For small businesses, this situation is a heaven-sent chance to tread water, thoroughly audit all your activities and adjust where necessary – so you can emerge into the light at the end of this dark tunnel stronger, better equipped and happier.
If you haven’t already done so, it’s the ideal time to immerse your business in the digital age, to begin taking full advantage of the many on-line services on offer that can transform customer communications and services.
And if you’ve always made the excuse you don’t have the time to get up to speed with all these digital advantages – well, there’s no excuse now!
A Cheerful Outlook
Vermillion Pinstripes is at the leading edge of providing counsel and advice on making business happy, particularly by harnessing the power of digital services to streamline and develop their services.
Our commitment to this is underlined by our newly-issued E-Book: Reasons to be Cheerful: A Blueprint for Businesses to Stay Open, Ready and Available During the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Coupled with an offer of free consultation from Vermilion Pinstripes to analyse your business and signpost ways forward to success, this is a chance not to be missed for businesses who may be struggling to envisage a path out of their current crisis predicament.
Our E-Book sets out a step-by-step strategy for affected businesses to take full advantage of COVID-19’s silver lining – following a set of clear procedures that will help put business activities under the microscope, to adapt and revamp them for freshened impetus and relevance in this evolving business environment.
This journey begins with the fundamental act of adopting a positive attitude in the face of what might seem at the moment to be insurmountable odds.
The situation is defined as presenting a choice of three actions for businesses adversely affected by COVID-19 – pivot; innovate; or pause.
However, whichever action is taken it must be accompanied by a commitment not to stop being an active business.
And this continuing activity will be centred around the principle of the Three Cs -Connection; Creativity; and Community.
In other words, making your presence felt by utilising digital connection; being creative to stand out; and taking a leadership stance to help your industry’s community at this time, will all create something for your customers, suppliers and prospects to remember in the better times to come.
Make it Personal
Proactivity is an overarching element of all this, with opportunities to reach out to business contacts either digitally – or more effectively at this time – with personal phone calls to strengthen and build relationships.
These personal calls can be reinforced in digital communications, by emails, social media posts, or blogs.
Another positive aspect of the downtime of isolation being is that this time can be valuable to go through contact lists, for updating where necessary. It can also be used to learn new skillsets useful to future activities.
It’s also a good time to kick-back and examine your brand purpose, to think about all the reasons you began your business in the first place and to align them to your customer communications.
You can even take this one step further and ask customers for feedback on your services to help in your business analysis.
Vermilion Pinstripes can help here too, with our Avatar Worksheet to research and analyse each one of your customers’ particular requirements. This can be vital, as only when these needs are singled out can you assess whether your products or services are meeting them, and whether or not they need to be tweaked to do so.
Driving Business to You
For many businesses previously overawed or dismayed by the apparent complexity of using digital communications, Vermilion Pinstripes offers simple deciphering of it all and how to tailor the best digital platforms to your business.
Our COVID-19 business strategy incorporates this service to shape potent new online business presences.
This begins with working out how people search online for your business and ensuring that your SEO – Search Optimisation Engine – is properly fixed for this.
Review your keywords in all your content – your websites, blogs, emails and social posts – to make sure they’re aligned to lead people to your brand. If you don’t know the right keywords for this, take advantage of the free tools available online to help you.
Be careful adding images to your website that are the right size, because large images slow down responses and that can deter those all-important customers. And ensure your images are customer-friendly with filenames that are descriptions, not just anonymous file numbers.
Look at your hashtags, they’re great for easy searches and trending topics, and highlighted in popular sites like LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram. Devise hashtags unique for your business that aptly states what you offer, to make searchers come to you.
Put the Best Tools in Your Box
Sadly, it’s taken a global pandemic to catapult the importance of social media to the forefront of conventional business practice.
In our new COVID-19 world, with its physical social distancing, digital connections are now vital, especially for businesses. And with people feeling lonely, bored or stressed, social interaction online is increasingly important.
This should be the foundation of your new business communications strategy, but with so many social platforms to choose from – for example, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube - it can be hard to choose which one to use.
To align your business with customers you want to attract, research them to find which social channel is their preference – and use that one.
Once you’re up and running with these customers you can stay online to communicate and collaborate using readily-available tools like Skype, Zoom, Messenger and WhatsApp.
Checkout our Free Resources and Tools to get you started with Modern Marketing.
Spreading the Joy of Buying
Your new spare time can also be productively used by thinking about how to keep customers and prospects connected and informed – one of the best ways to do this is by telling them a story about your business, whether on emails, blogs, social media or websites.
There’s various methods to build compelling stories - take a historical perspective with the tale of your brand development or position a staff member with a particular skill as a guru, or expert in his or her field.
Digital aspect is important, with opportunities to enhance your stories’ appeal by using online photo, video and music tools. Let your imagination run wild!
On a more down-to-earth note, plugging digital sales tools into your website can help you sell better and faster – even without selling!
When your Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) is loaded with these tools you can easily track who’s interested and provide them with content that’s appropriate and timely. We call this CAT – Content, Audience, Time.
Once you have a customer’s interest focus on encouraging them to Buy, instead of you trying to Sell. The act of Buying brings joy to customers; and you have to find the trigger of that joy.
If customer offers are created with that principle in mind, it follows that customers will be more inclined to provide their personal data, time and money in return.
Spend Wisely to Make a Difference
It goes without saying that everyone has to be careful with cashflow in a crisis such as this. Of course, some spending is necessary and unavoidable, but it should be targeted for maximum return.
Advertising is cheap now, so take advantage of that. But ensure all SEOs and other channels are updated before any advertising spends or it won’t be worth it.
And to cover all financial bases find out if you’re eligible for any government stimulus packages.
This period of crisis is your chance to demonstrate leadership and give your customers more value, at a time when they’ll appreciate and remember it.
You don’t have to be better than your competition – just different.
Take Your First Step
Even if all this is uncharted territory, it’s simple for businesses to take the first step in this journey to happiness with a free consultation from Vermilion Pinstripes. To book yours, click on the button below or go to http:/bit.ly/VPmeet to choose a preferred date and time.
Check out our Marketing and Communications Education Series