Simple Ways to Create a Coronavirus Crisis Management Plan
As small business owners, we are prepared for many things, be it a seasonal change in sales or an unexpected absence of employees that we have to step in and cover.
But we’ve never seen anything like the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving us wondering how to deal with these strange times.
I know this is a scary and isolated time both personally and professionally. I hope you stay safe and healthy, and that this article can help you plan for your coronavirus-related business challenges.
Personally, I have had to change many times as an entrepreneur and while it can be stressful, it can also be a time of innovation and growth.
As you create your business coronavirus crisis management plan, here are some things to focus on:
The importance of helping to sell
I understand that you have a business to run, and I am not suggesting that you start giving away things or risk your health to open a store. What I recommend is that you take a step back and think about your community as you run your business.
Perhaps there is a way that what you offer can help people through this difficult time. One of our customers, The Broken Whisk, has had to stop serving customers at his restaurant in Agassiz, BC. Instead, they created a select menu of gourmet meals for just $ 5 each, which can be pre-ordered and picked up.
And not only is his Facebook post liked and shared because it’s a delicious offering and a way to give back to the community, but he also started a chain of charitable giving. More and more people are donating money to buy meals for those in need.
Is there a way to adapt your current marketing model to better serve your customers and the community?
Online events and offers
Obviously, organizing a conference or an awards dinner is prohibited at this time. A large part of your planning for business challenges related to COVID-19 will include an online marketing strategy.
Think of some ways you can connect people from the comfort of your home, including webinars, Facebook Live videos, and virtual conferences with tools like Zoom. And don’t just focus on coronavirus-related content. Keep producing videos that will benefit your small business marketing strategy long after the COVID-19 crisis is over.
This is a good example of a turn to online marketing. A Stroke of Genius is a client of ours located in North Vancouver, BC. As an interior decorator, Barbara Aylesworth has built her business by working directly with customers and manufacturers. However, with the COVID-19 crisis, he had to change his marketing strategy to include virtual consultation and project management.
Barb is also inviting people to submit their photos of decorating and design challenges via Instagram, offering to submit their ideas for possible solutions.
This is a fun and inspiring way to get your community involved when people need it most!
Should You Stop Trading During COVID-19? Read more on our website.
Unless you are selling toilet paper or hand sanitizer, you may be concerned about the impact of the coronavirus on your small business; your income, employees, and empty marketing funnel. So does that mean you need to bend over and stop your marketing efforts for now? No!
I strongly believe in focusing on what we can do and change while finding opportunities in the midst of adversity. In this article, I share some ways you can tackle the marketing challenge during a crisis and keep your business running.
Business planning for future growth
Of course, you need to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic with the right message, but don’t be tunnel visionary when it comes to your marketing strategy and ad dollars.
While consumers spend more time online, they are unwilling to make decisions about the future right now. If you have a service that requires your customers to plan ahead or travel, your conversion rate will suffer during the outbreak. So don’t expect the same content and ads that were driving traffic before the pandemic to keep coming.
But not all is lost! This can be an opportunity to engage with your customers on social media and increase your brand awareness with content and even paid advertising. With paid ads, you may even find that you have less competition online during an economic downturn, which means you’ll pay less for more visits and clicks.
From promoting spring-themed gift cards on your website to creating helpful articles on financial planning during COVID-19, give your customers a reason to stay with you, even if the pandemic brings you more business.
For example, Your Yoga Flow is an online application that offers virtual yoga classes. If anything, they are seeing an increase in sales as people try to stay active and healthy while locked up at home. Not just by selling your services, but by providing a free meditation during “these tough times,” they increase brand awareness, give something back, and stay on top of mind.
If you are willing to look ahead as you create your coronavirus crisis management plan, you will be in a better position to remain relevant and re-market to your audience at a later time.
Empower your employees
According to recent statistics, more than 500,000 Canadians, or about 2.5% of the workforce, have already submitted EI applications. If you haven’t had to make tough decisions about layoffs, how can you keep your team busy and optimistic about the future?
Here are some ideas:
Offer training opportunities to help your team and your business over the long term, whether it’s earning a new certification or reading relevant industry books.
Consider relaxing vacation or working hour policies to accommodate employees whose children may be out of school, for example.
Share jobs between departments to increase responsiveness to your clients.
Get your team involved in “side” projects or things you’ve put off because you were too busy before.
If your team is working remotely, be sure to check back frequently. A daily virtual coffee or 15-minute meeting to see how everyone is doing can be vital to the mental health and well-being of your team.
Regardless of the type of business you run, your clients are looking for help and reassurance right now. As you develop your coronavirus crisis management plan, keep in mind that the entire world is being bombarded with the noise of messages.
That means emails from all the companies that you followed on social media, bought a product, or signed up for an email newsletter. As you drive your small business marketing strategy to survive the COVID-19 crisis, make sure all your communications provide concise, meaningful, and relevant information.
The more value you can offer your customers right now, the more successful you will be as we shift to a new form of marketing and emerge from a global crisis that made our world so much smaller.