In my role as a digital media strategist for Dream Local Digital, I work directly and indirectly with many small and medium-sized businesses across America. It is clear that the pinch is being felt everywhere as businesses adjust their game plans. The sad reality is that many will simply not be able to weather the COVID-19 storm. My goal is to provide creative thinking that will truly support media sales reps as they assist their clients and help businesses stay afloat and move forward. In this blog, I will outline some of what I am learning and provide concrete suggestions on ways that businesses can navigate the waves in this period of societal crisis.
Our conversations are the most important thing.
For businesses, that means asking the question of how they can best serve their clients and community. For media reps, that means having honest and creative conversations with businesses on how the tools they have will help them communicate and meet their clients’ needs, as well as appreciating what kind of shape they are in financially.
Everyone is going to be more frugal with cash, as they should.
And most are going to be much more discerning about how money and resources are allocated. This is the smart move. Some businesses will have more resources to allow them to hang in there and take a longer-view approach. Others will clearly need more immediate solutions. Either way, businesses that have the ability to provide immediate solutions and/or flexibility and are able to communicate this will fare better.
This is a time, more than ever, to use online tools.
This includes webinar-based tools like Zoom, Skype, Webinar Jam and others. Business owners should be creative in the ways in which they connect with clients. For example, fitness and health companies can offer live, online classes or webinar-based classes. Realtors or auto dealers can do virtual tours using similar tools. Even furniture stores can do this. The reality is that people are in their homes, trying to stay busy and engaged and improve their situation. People are shopping online and making changes in their homes. Some professional businesses, like CPAs or bookkeeping services, can hold virtual meetings to support people who are making important financial decisions.
Businesses can stay connected with the community by promoting their adjustments and adaptations across social media.
Some restaurants have started offering online cooking classes or special delivery services within local communities. While there may be different limitations in different communities, communicating via social media to folks stuck at home is important. My local grocery store is using Facebook to let people know when they have restocked items like eggs or paper products. They are also using Next Door and building affinity with customers as they tirelessly provide crucial and timely communication.
As Amazon is seeking to hire another 100,000 employees to meet the needs of the current moment, local businesses can also offer delivery services for essential items. Some local communities have started local business websites like #AshevilleStrong as a community resource and promoted them over social media. Other local businesses are letting their community and customers know how they are meeting the needs of the community to contain the virus. Auto dealers have started to provide no-touch pick-up/drop-off repair services or vehicle delivery. There is an opportunity in this moment, while we are further apart, to come closer together.
Some distributors have started implementing direct-to-consumer distribution efforts and promoting on social media.
A local lobster distributor was losing money as restaurants were forced to cancel orders. He turned to social media and found a hungry audience that appreciated the low rates on lobster. If you’ve never considered an eCommerce website for your business, now is the time to make the move. We can help.
The more that businesses are able to solve problems while being realistic yet creative, the better they will do.
The more they use highly social platforms and tools to reach and communicate with customers, the better chance businesses will have to come out strong on the other end of this crisis. We’re here to guide you through it and are offering business-friendly discounts to get you started. Contact us to learn more.
“While there will be great economic dislocation that affects small and large businesses, there are still some opportunities, especially for direct-to-consumer businesses. People are sheltering at home and online a lot. If you are selling something that will make their lives better during this difficult period, there are opportunities. Examples might be things like online learning or classes, online consulting, or even things that bring a smile in these difficult times. Similarly, any product or service that makes working from home easier will have a ready market (if your customers can find you online).” – Dan Rosen, GeekWire.
Businesses looking for funds may find assistance through their local Chamber of Commerce or through https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/Home/COVID19DeliveryOptions
Written by Kevin Drolet
Strategic Account Executive