TWO months ago many small businesses were settling into trade for 2020. And a month ago everything seemed like business as usual. And for many, without warning (it was a slow creep that gathered a crashing momentum) life and business as we know it came to a crashing halt.
Our Australian and local Sunshine Coast economy is shattered. Small business owners feel left out in the cold – in particular sole traders and microbusinesses. No customers. No open doors. No interaction. No business.
How do we survive in this new world?
Firstly, do not believe there will be a return to life as we know it. There has been a seismic shift and business from here on in will look different. We cannot control what has happened – we can only control how we react and adapt to this new world.
For sole traders, micro and small businesses there are some small and incremental actions you can take. Over a series of posts I will be covering a range of topics including:
- Are your products and services still valued and usable in this market?
- Where is the unmet need and how can I identify the opportunity within that?
- How do I prepare for the future?
- What actions can I take now to keep my business afloat?
- How do I future-proof my business?
I’ve been asked as a first priority to provide advice in the form of 10 tips for small business on how to build their online/ social media presence during this time.
So – I have the following:
Online tools such as your website and social media are exactly that – just tools.
The key is to get your strategy right – and this begins with understanding where your business sits in the marketplace and the demographic of your customers. For instance – its no good selling aged care services on Twitter or Instagram, or hairdressing services on LinkedIn.
My 10 tips:
- Your website is the only piece of digital real estate you actually own. And right now it is critical. Protect your website. Ensure you have the right security measures in place with your website host. Ensure all your plugins are up to date.
- Take the time to review your website. Is it up to date? How does it convey your story to customers? How does your website position your brand? The front page of your website is critical – first impressions count. People do business with people – not faceless entities. And in our current world this is more important than ever.
- Review all your social media channels and make sure they are updated – including all your contact information, your products and services, and your key information.
- Create a “content calendar”. This is your opportunity to plan. A content calendar simply nominates what you will post on which days. Some days you may post a video, on others a special offer, on others you will provide information and inspiration. The key is that your posts will need to be diverse and engaging and be valued by your customers.
- Take lots of videos. Today’s phones do the trick and it’s a simple exercise. We are now missing that face to face time with clients and customers – so you need to create a tactile experience with them – one where they will get to know you and you are building relationships of trust.
- Audit your Google My Business page, your review channels and your emailer systems. Add new images and information to your Google My Business profile, make sure you have responded with meaning to your Google Reviews, Trip Advisor Reviews, Facebook reviews and so on.
- Use your channels to create conversation with customers. Run demos on how your products and services are created – or how to use them.
- Build your reputation as an expert in your field. Social media isn’t just about plugging your wares. This is a valuable time for you to learn about emerging trends and technologies in your industry and how you can harness these to pivot, expand or consolidate your business.
- Learn about your community. So many businesses use social media simply to “talk at” customers instead of asking and talking with customers. Use your platforms to find out more about your market – what matters to them, how do they use your products or services, what “unmet needs” do they have that your business can respond to.
- Review. Always check to see how people are responding to your content. Which posts have the most engagement? Are there comments and questions that you can use to create more information or content with? Ditch the approach that isn’t working and focus on building engagement through the ones that are.
Each business and industry has particular opportunities and approaches that will work best for them. Identify yours and use these platforms to reach your clients, build relationships, inform your product and service development and future proof your business.