Many businesses suffered in 2020. Some were so badly hit that owners had no choice but to close down permanently. Those that survived, however, struggled to stay afloat. With the lockdowns in place, consumer behavior completely changed. Since many couldn’t visit brick-and-mortar stores, they relied on online shopping to get whatever they needed, causing many businesses to shift to digital. Now in 2021, just going digital isn’t enough. Businesses need to get creative to keep customers interested and sales up.
Here are a few creative ways to help you stay in business and attract potential customers.
Maintaining Customer Relations
Keeping in touch with your customers is one of the key strategies to making sure your business stays open. Ted Waldron and James Wetherbe of Harvard Business Review came up with five of these strategies to help any business owner maintain relationships with their customers and stand up against any crisis called the HEART framework. It consists of five strategies:
Humanize Your Company
Sales are important for business owners to thrive. But at a time like this, it’s important to exercise empathy. Let your customers know that you care. Ensure that they know you’re doing something about your customers, employees, and partners’ circumstances. This will help them feel reassured that you’re not there to get money out of their pocket. You can do this through your social media accounts or even through an e-mail newsletter.
One good example is Emily Copus, founder of Carolina Flowers. After the pandemic, she continued maintaining her relationships with customers by sending long-form emails about her process of growing flowers.
Educate About Change
It’s better to be ready for any possible changes instead of stating to your customers on the day of the change itself. Act according to the best interest of your business and its customers by being one step ahead. If you plan to implement a change in your business’s structure or processes, reach out to your customers in advance and let them know that changes are coming.
Assurance is important in uncertain times like these. Let your customers know that despite the current situation, you’ll continue to offer the same quality product and services that they’re used to getting. Explaining how you will maintain these services and products is important and lets them know that you’re not willing to sacrifice your values despite the hardships your business might be going through.
Simply put, you need to innovate. While you are sticking to your values as a business, show your customers that you’re finding new and better ways to serve them. You can even choose to offer new services and products to potential customers looking to fix a problem that your business can solve. Depending on what business you run, you can put up a pop-up shop in an open area (according to your local government’s regulations) to give your customers a socially-distanced, pre-COVID-esque experience.
With gyms closed during the lockdown, Emma Garden, manager of a Los Angeles fitness gym called Box N’ Burn, had to innovate to keep the business running. The business added a new service called BNB On-Demand Platform, giving their community access to different Box N’ Burn workouts that they could do from home.
Tackle the Future
Show customers that you’re willing to go above and beyond regarding your company’s operations. If you plan on revising your business model, make sure that your business is equipped to maintain it. Also, it’s important to highlight what you’ve learned through this experience and where you plan to go from here. Show your customers that you have established plans for improvement for the future.
Build Your Online Presence
Another important aspect of making sure your business stays open during the pandemic is properly building your online presence. Many businesses have already transitioned to digital through social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and even TikTok. Consider these tips for building your online presence and reaching a wider audience:
Create Engaging Content
With over 3.6 billion people connected to social media, it’s important to utilize different social media platforms to get your content noticed by your current and potential customers. Create content, but not just any content. Many users prefer video these days, so consider creating engaging video content that will lead users to your website or social media accounts.
Invest in Link Building
Simply put, link building a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy where one site links to another. This can help improve your online presence as the more backlinks you have, the higher your ranking gets on search engines. This makes it easier to find you if a customer were to look your business up online.
Have a Mobile-Optimized Website
Having a website is important. However, most people tend to browse on their phones nowadays. Because of this, many websites are optimizing their pages to be accessible to mobile users. If you don’t optimize your site, chances are you could lose your potential customers in a matter of minutes. Making your site accessible to various users can widen your reach and possibly get you more customers.
Building your online presence takes time, especially if you’re doing it yourself. If you’re having difficulty managing your responsibilities and your budget allows, consider getting in touch with an advertising agency. You won’t have to worry about managing everything at the same time, and you’ll get an influx of new customers too.
It’s a difficult time for all of us, especially small businesses. But all we can do is to take a deep breath, be flexible in these uncertain times, and try to beat the odds no matter what comes our way.