There is a clear silver lining in our current crisis, and it is the opportunity for small businesses to forge stronger partnerships. Turn fear into focus and use your very expertise to be of service. Now is the time to get proactive and reach out even more than you have in the past—connect with your clients and listen to their needs. Consider your core business and how you can use it to make a meaningful impact in your community. Here are some questions to ask yourself to keep your business thriving during the COVID-19 pandemic.
What are your clients talking about right now?
Survey your audience to understand their pain points and needs. The best way to research this is to reach out, communicate and ask them. Now is the time to pick up the phone, email and reach out personally to clients or potential clients and candidly ask how you can help. Use the information you gather to create e-blasts/newsletters, mailings, or send out personal email campaigns and start a dialogue with your audience. Monitor responses and continue to communicate including on social media and in blogs.
What helpful advice can I offer?
Once you zero in on needs, offer your expertise through a variety of industry outlets. You can craft editorial for your industry: magazines, blogs, newsletters, journals and websites are always looking for advice, experiences and updates. Make a list of outlets related to your industry and submit content to help lateral and vertical partners.
What actions can I take?
Remember, it is about showing up for your audience responding with empathy. Business Insider gives an example that even small, thoughtful actions can be meaningful: Consider Disney Plus’s decision to start streaming Frozen 2 three months ahead of schedule as a gift to parents confined at home with their out-of-school kids. This not only endears the brand to consumers, but offers their services to engage audiences while being supportive. What services/offers will you make to help right now?
How can we make the most out of a bad situation?
Empathy. Take some time to really listen to your clients, and brainstorm successful plays, as if it were your own company. This pandemic has forced us to slow down and to consider our neighbors as friends.
Consider the Corona beer debacle. Once the virus was in the mainstream media ugly rumors via Twitter and social media platforms were immediately spread that the association with the name would prevent the public from enjoying the popular beer and falsely suggested that consumption was already down.
But their team came up with ways to flip that notion in their favor. Inc. Magazine discusses how: “…rather than jump into a defense against rapidly spreading misinformation, Constellation Brands CEO Bill Newlands did something very important, first. He recognized the gravity of the situation and shared a little empathy. He stated, our thoughts and prayers go out to those affected by this terrible virus and we hope efforts to more fully contain it gain traction soon.” Instead of lashing out, Newlands empathized with the fear that is as detrimental as the virus itself.
How can I stop from drowning?
Here are a few other business tips to help you take care of your business during this time.
Advertise. This is a rare opportunity to participate in discount advertising in some outlets you’ve dreamed of being in, but couldn’t afford. Look for and negotiate COVID-19 discount rates. It’s an opportunity to get your name out in the public with your own message.
Tax relief. The CARES Act includes several tax relief provisions that could significantly slash your tax burden: delay estimated tax payments and employer payroll tax payments, get tax credits for employee retention; and benefit from modifications for tax treatment of net operating losses, AMT tax credits, business interest deductions and more to safeguard your valuable cash accounts. Don’t be discouraged by delays—just apply. It may pay off.
Private grants. Companies such as Facebook, GoFundMe, local Chambers of Commerce, and many government agencies are providing loans, grants and discounts. Other financing options include a business line of credit, invoice financing, short-term loans, merchant cash advances and more. Find out here where to get business financing and how to qualify. Things are changing daily so to be first in line for help, join their newsletters, follow them and check-in often.
As we enter a new normal, let’s take the opportunity to draw closer to our clients, listen to their concerns, and respond with assistance and exclusive offers where we can. As business continues to restart, you will be in the best position to partner with clients effectively and ultimately in an even bigger way.
Public relations enthusiast Jenny Kaplan has been getting her clients newsworthy ink for more than 15 years. Most days, this PR strategist can be found communicating in one way or another to the public. She specializes in crafting your brand and story. For more info and to ask her questions call (707) 578-1336 or visit www.getnoticedpr.com.