As COVID-19 is a continuing threat, we acknowledge that this is an uncertain time in the world for people and their businesses. The pandemic, and news about it, changes rapidly.
In times of instability, many businesses feel pressure to step back from the market in order to regroup and prepare for the short-term consequences affecting their industry. But digital marketing—and especially SEO—isn’t an area that benefits from this retreat. Below are our thoughts on how you can lead your business through the coronavirus crisis for success on the other side.
THINK BIG PICTURE
We firmly believe in the power of local businesses—the market has experienced pandemics, recessions, and upsets before, and many businesses have thrived in the aftermath. This current concern will be no different. Use this time as one of growth; maintain your business presence and prepare yourself to flourish when the market regains its footing.
While short-term plans are necessary due to rapidly changing circumstances, they cannot be made at the expense of long-term strategy. The COVID-19 pandemic, like its predecessors, will not last forever. Position yourself to address the world post-crisis. Your actions during this time will inevitably affect the fate of your business when normal operations resume.
REMEMBER THAT OPTIMIZING YOUR ONLINE PRESENCE TAKES TIME
Because optimizing your web presence takes several months, working through this time of uneasiness prepares your business to see better numbers later this year. And with so many competitors stepping out of the arena in the wake of this pandemic, you have an opportunity to use this available space to your advantage.
Other countries such as South Korea and China appear to have reduced the growth of the virus in two months time. We hope to see something similar in the United States with a current emphasis on social distancing and good hygiene practices. If accomplished, by mid-summer we hope business returns to a stable environment.
If you stop SEO marketing now due to immediate fears, you could negatively impact the ability for your business to rank and connect with customers in a few month’s time. Lead your business through this crisis with long-term thinking and digital marketing prowess. Don’t make quick decisions based on fear, think months ahead to where you want your business to be in the future.
REMEMBER THAT DIGITAL MARKETING REQUIRES CONSISTENCY.
In the world of SEO, we’re always thinking long-term. Because it takes several months before optimization reaches its peak, campaigns require continued maintenance and monitoring in order to see success in future quarters. On the other hand, if you already are working on an SEO campaign, taking your foot off the gas can hurt too. Very quickly, keywords you’re ranking for will start dropping when you stop working on SEO. Within six months, your keywords could be off the first page of search results entirely.
If consistency falters too drastically during periods of unrest, nurturing growth once markets stabilize will be a difficult task. But if efforts like SEO continue during times where consumers and businesses are searching for consistency, you’ll experience exponentially more growth by the time the most urgent concerns have been quelled.
TAKE CARE OF CUSTOMERS.
Don’t pretend that nothing’s changed, but do help customers navigate through the COVID-19 concerns as smoothly as possible. Help them be confident in your business by sending out frequent communication through email and social media, updating your business hours and availability where necessary, and hosting phone calls or teleconferences if you cannot make a decision over a text-based platform.
Let your customers know the best way to reach you if your storefront must close for a period of time, and if you’re based online, make sure your web presence continues to be optimized with the latest information.
Use the following marketing tools and platforms:
- Send email marketing newsletter updates
- Post status updates on social media channels
- Update your business hours if they change due to safety precautions
- Ensure phone lines, email accounts, and teleconferencing lines are open and available
- Partner with your current service provider to help create a COVID-19 Relief Package for customers.
TAKE CARE OF YOUR EMPLOYEES.
Crisis can affect employees emotionally as well as physically, and being aware of these effects can help you support your employees as you work together during periods of instability.
Start by designing and executing a plan for your employees consistent with government guidelines to ensure their safety. Examples could include:
- Enabling a work-from-home program if your business model allows it.
- Implementing CDC guidelines on sterilization and observing social distancing if you operate a brick and mortar store.
- Directing employees to helpful resources if they have questions about coronavirus and your accompanying contingency plans.
- Outline the transition from in-office to remote work in as much detail as possible, ensuring both employees and consumers know what to expect and how they should manage any gaps in coverage or fulfillment.
- Use reliable sources to determine a timeline, and be sure to check in regularly so your employees know you’re taking their work environment seriously.
Maintain open lines of communication with your employees, as information surrounding the outbreak may change abruptly. They will continue to work hard for you if they know you care and are doing all possible to take care of them.
REDUCE OR STRETCH OUT DEBT, AND BUILD UP YOUR CAPITAL RESERVES.
Get in contact with loan managers and credit accounts to learn more about options for your business as you keep your cash flow positive. In the meantime, build up capital by buying necessary items or making investments while prices are low. As the market begins to rise once more, prices will too, so get ahead of the curve while you can.
SEPARATE THE “NICE TO DO” FROM THE “HAVE TO DO,” AND ELIMINATE NONESSENTIAL EXPENSES AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE.
Because new priorities will inevitably arise, make a list of what must be done to keep your business afloat—things like paying the bills, paying your employees, and checking on supply chains if your product or service relies on outsourcing materials. Compare this with a list of things you’d like to accomplish but may need to set aside for the time being, like in-person team meetings, attending conferences or trade shows, or moving offices. Don’t be discouraged—these aspects of your business will most likely return to normal in a few months.
STAY INFORMED, BUT USE FORECASTS CAREFULLY.
Because the COVID-19 virus is relatively new, stay informed, but don’t be alarmed if precautions or data change suddenly. Use reliable sources that can easily prove where they get their information, which lowers the chance of spreading false or misleading information. But because of the rapidly changing flow of information, nothing is truly set in stone. However, following the advice of experts is the best way to stay on top of things and keep your employees informed of any immediate local impacts.
BE A PART OF THE BROADER SOLUTION.
No business operates in a vacuum—whether you’re part of a niche collection of organizations or a set of local shops, work with your neighbors both literal and figurative to create solutions that work for everyone. Stay informed on what other people in your area or in your industry are doing, and make sure your efforts are in line with overarching initiatives to maintain a streamlined approach to problem-solving and being a good global citizen to mitigate this disease.
Green Stick Marketing is covering the COVID-19 outbreak through a series of posts. Don’t miss our next post. Subscribe now and get instantly notified via email on our next post. As always, we’re here to help! Contact us today to get started.