The US has entered into lockdown mode as COVID-19 sweeps the nation. With restrictions on restaurants, bars, and other businesses, millions of Americans are left quarantined and housebound. Many companies have closed their doors to slow the spread. Business owners and entrepreneurs are understandably worried about losing customers, having to layoff employees and possibly closing for good. According to marketing expert Dave Farrow, having a business strategy in place is crucial to stay afloat. We interviewed Farrow to learn more about how small businesses and entrepreneurs can retain customers and make it through this crisis.
Many small businesses are closing to prevent the spread of COVID 19. What general advice can you offer small business owners on staying afloat during this crisis?
I am suggesting a few things.
Negotiate: look at every expense and negotiate with them for lower or skipped payments. Many states and provinces have given new rules around rent. Firstly they stopped all evictions but to compensate landlords they offer to only pay the interest on mortgages. But don’t stop there. Contact suppliers, saas companies, Contact your state and federal tax office, all creditors and ask to speak to a manager multiple times if necessary to get some relief.
This also helps people’s moods. When they get a little break on a payment, no matter how small, it feels like you have control again.
Financially plan: Apply for help: The federal government is about to approve a trillion-dollar relief payment for people out of work from this crisis. Check your local area for details and apply as soon as possible to get first in line.
Plan for the next stage: I foresee three stages. The initial lockdown, the new normal, and the recovery.
These stages will affect different businesses differently. In this initial lockdown, it may make sense to shut down. Businesses like bars and health clubs need to shut down right away, however many restaurants that have pivoted to food delivery are actually seeing a boost in sales from all the people staying at home these days.
The new normal will be a period of time after the curve starts to flatten. This will happen hopefully within the next four to six weeks. At that time there will be talk about lifting restrictions but it’s unlikely they will be lifted that soon. However, this change in the curve will bring back consumer confidence and buying habits will come back fast if a business can offer services remotely or in a way that conforms to social distancing.
Also, plan for the recovery. Maybe you can gain ground fast by having a good plan to come back.
Go Online: No matter what you do go onto social media and start communicating. Ideally have a plan for this.
Show examples of you and your team spraying and cleaning things. Post about washing your hands for example. Even if its well before you are thinking of opening again this will bring confidence to your customers that you get it.
For a different type of business: Consider that this time may be a good time for you to expand. Right now social and traditional media ratings are at an all-time high. On average people are at least twice as active online and watching twice as much media right now. They are looking for COVID-19 related news but also things to distract them from the stress of the moment. So if your business wants exposure now may be the best time to do a PR campaign or online marketing ad.
What are some tips for transitioning to working remotely for businesses that can do so?
The most important thing I want to get across to people working remotely is to get into a routine. Wake up at the same time and go to work in your home. Have a special place in your home to do your work. You can still socialize but don’t try to handle this crisis from the same kitchen table your child eats cereal
Check-in with your staff. A group text works well for my team but as this lasts longer I suggest having meetings on video conferencing with other team members just to check in and see if everyone is ok. You need to fight the isolation and keep a sense of normalcy.
Can you offer some online marketing and social media tips to retain and connect with customers?
Right now online shopping is bigger than before the crisis. People are still buying and they are a captive audience right now. As far as we can tell every product is doing better but health products and things to fight the boredom are doing even better.
I strongly suggest people look into a lead generation via direct social media messaging services. We have been using this in our company for our clients and find that right now is a great time to get a hold of decision-makers. If you have a product that is sold B2B then direct Lead Generation is the right move right now.
Higher ticket items are difficult to sell and some more long term products are not going to do as well because there is so much uncertainty over the future.
Bigger purchases like cars and real estate are struggling but still happening if they offer online tours because some investors are taking advantage of the opportunity.
If this is the case don’t go for the sale right away. Look to gather leads and offer a low price product to build your list right now. Then as the curve flattens these leads will buy more.
As for social media, communicate often. Different apps are for different conversations.
Facebook is general information and pictures.
Linkedin is for business content. For example, if you say you are losing money on Facebook some trolls may attack you for complaining but LinkedIn this info will be accepted and even spark a conversation about business with many others.
Twitter is best for breaking news. Like if a product just went online or if you are going to have an appointment time.
How can small business owners ensure that their employees are taken care of financially and emotionally during these uncertain and scary times?
This depends on the business greatly. However, one trend is to have temporary layoffs, even rolling layoffs as opposed to cutting hours. The reason is that if someone is laid off from the coronavirus they can apply for help but they get nothing if their pay is simply cut in half. Check with local government programs and regulations to refine this strategy.
ABOUT DAVE FARROW:
Marketing expert Dave Farrow is the 2x Guinness World Record holder for greatest memory. To earn this title, Farrow recalled the exact order of 59 decks of shuffled playing cards using ‘The Farrow Memory Method’. Farrow is first and foremost an entrepreneur who mastered the art of marketing to promote his own business. He has been been a featured guest expert on over 2000 interviews in the media including multiple appearances on Dr. Oz, The Today Show, Live with Regis and Kelly, Steve Harvey, Discovery Channel, and many others.
Today, Farrow uses his keen understanding of the brain in the public relations and media sector. He is the CEO of Farrow Communications, a full-service PR and marketing firm known for brain-based marketing and mnemonic messaging. Farrow Communications makes brands unforgettable representing a diverse range of clients across industry sectors and global markets.
For more information visit: https://farrowcommunications.com/offer/