by Erika Kosina
This is a critical time for small businesses – if they can’t figure out how to quickly adapt to the “new normal,” they may not make it. Fortunately, there are six things most small businesses can be doing right now that will increase their chances of making it to 2021 — and beyond.
Pivot and Adapt
Many businesses have had to pivot and change the way they provide services or products, or even change what they are providing. This is the first thing every small business needs to consider – how do I need to adapt in order to survive? Restaurants might figure out how to transition to a delivery model. Retailers might create an e-commerce website – a digital storefront. Business owners who have not been allowed to open might have to fall back on a different skill set or product offering – and then let people know what they have to offer.
Let Your Customers Know You Are Open
After you’ve completed your pivot, you need to let your customers know that you are open for business – and how things are different with COVID. Start with those customers who have already done business with you – they are the ones most likely to return. Hopefully you already have a way to connect and engage with them — email addresses or phone numbers. If not, start collecting that contact information right now.
Update Your Google My Business ™ Listing
After you’ve reached out to existing customers, it’s time to help new customers find you. Life, in many ways, has shifted to the internet since the pandemic arrived. Now, more than ever, Google is where people go when they are looking for a specific product or service. Your Google My Business™ listing is often the first thing active searchers will see, whether or not you have claimed or verified your listing. If your Google My Business™ listing isn’t claimed and verified, you are missing a huge opportunity. Jacob Griscom, Chief Business Development Officer at R&B Communications, always emphasizes the importance of this listing with his clients. “You may not show up at all if you don’t claim your listing,” he said. “This is the place to let people know you are open, and what precautions you are taking for COVID.” It’s also a good place to let potential customers know how many people love you, which brings me to the next topic – reviews.
Give Customers a Reason to Choose You
It’s great if potential customers can easily find you through a Google search, but once they do find you, you need to give them a reason to choose you. Reviews can help with that – a lot. Research tells us that 84% of people trust online reviews as much as they trust their friends. So, make sure you have a system in place to collect reviews. They matter. And Google will find them.
Make Sure Your Website Looks As Good As Your Storefront
The next place many potential customers go is your website. If you don’t have one, you are missing out. Even the most basic web presence affects your search rankings and helps people find your business. Griscom recommends spending a little bit of time making your website inviting, informative, and functional: “Make sure it is professional looking and up to date,” he said. “With COVID, e-commerce is key. Make it easy for people to order from your website.”
Advertise Where Your Customers Are
For better or for worse, customers are spending more time on the internet than ever before. And after they check e-mail, many of them are spending most of their time in two places – Google and Facebook. This is where you need to advertise. It doesn’t have to be expensive. Many advertising packages are pay per click, which means you only pay when someone clicks on your advertisement. Facebook requires only a few dollars to get your posts in front of your target audience.
If all of this seems overwhelming, start small, by reminding your customers that you exist. Or hire it out. There are plenty of experts out there who can help you set up or optimize a website and start advertising online. Some of them, like R&B Communications, are even local. The important thing is to do something. Because, despite COVID, customers are still buying. And they might as well choose your business.
[Erika Kosina is a local freelance writer who writes about the tech and manufacturing industry in Nevada County and beyond. www.erikakosina.com]