These are unprecedented times. If you haven’t prepared your business to survive a worldwide pandemic, you aren’t alone. While current “shelter in place” and “shutdown” orders certainly present businesses with economic challenges, that doesn’t mean that your retail store will automatically go under. The key is to acknowledge the potential threats that the coronavirus poses to your business while also exploring the possibilities and operations you can adopt to not only survive, but thrive.

As a savvy business owner, you’ve probably been asking yourself, how can you keep your sales pipeline flowing? In short, the answer is that you must shift as many services, sales, and operations into the digital sphere as possible, and this article will explain how you, a retailer in any industry can accomplish that as efficiently and affordably as possible.

If you’ve been keeping up with our blogsite and reading our frequent posts, then you have probably already created a Facebook Business Page and an Instagram Business Profile, and have begun selling via the e-commerce stores on these easy-to-use platforms. If not, then we highly recommend that you take a moment now to read our article, How Small Businesses Can Stay Afloat During COVID-19: a guide for retailers to transition into pandemic-friendly operations.

For the purposes of this more-in-depth article, we will be focusing on how to maximize use of your digital platforms. Stay positive! It’s very much in your favor that most of America is at home on the internet! Most of America is relying on online shopping, home delivery, and when they do venture out, they depend on drive-thru and curbside pickup! The name of the game is “adapt and never give up”!

HOST A VIRTUAL EVENT

During times of crisis, timely communication will go along way with your customers. Providing transparent and consistent communication is key. Best practices for communicating in a crisis include speaking early, speaking often, and speaking directly with your consumers.

  • • Stay connected with your customers and keep in touch with their needs by utilizing the “story” and “video” features on Facebook and Instagram.
  • • Get in the habit of posting twice-daily video messages on both platforms.
  • • In your videos you can solicit customer feedback, update your followers on deals and discounts, and also offer friendly business-to-consumer humor.
  • • To interest your customers in tuning in to a live, video event, offer a freebie or other incentive to the first follower to tune into the live stream. You can even reward the first five followers—for example—with rewards points if your business is enrolled in a customer loyalty rewards program.
  • • In addition to Facebook and Instagram, other larger platforms such as Twitch and Zoom might serve you well, especially if your business is in the Fitness or Self-Help industries.

RESHAPE THE WAY YOU CONDUCT INTERNAL BUSINESS COMMUNICATION

When it comes to general business operations, most companies have been functioning completely online even though employees occupy the same building. With COVID-19 sweeping the nation, that same workflow has been shifted out of offices and into homes, but that doesn’t mean you should let personnel-to-personnel interconnectedness slack. When employees are disconnected from one another, moral lowers and so does productivity. This is no time for your employees to work slower, and this is also no time for you to lose touch with your business associates. Invigorate their passion and uplift their spirits with the following strategies!

  • • Organize webinars for your employees that offer insightful work-from-home tips that address productivity, organization, and morale. During these meetings, give them a chance to goof around, make jokes, and check in with one another in terms of how they feel.
  • • Hold video conferences between employees and provide a forum where your personnel can share what has been working and what needs improvement. Having facetime with coworkers while they work from home will do wonders for lifting spirits.
  • • Stay connected with vendors, contractors, and other business associates via live streaming sessions through sites like Twitch, Zoom, or Google Hangouts. Ask these associates for their feedback in how to maintain sales, increase revenue, and troubleshoot the pitfalls they’ve been experiencing. They could have solutions to problems you weren’t even aware of.

PANDEMIC-PROOF DIGITAL MARKETING TIPS

Customers want to invest in a better version of themselves and they shop accordingly, COVID-19 hasn’t changed that. Quite the opposite, in fact. Now more than ever, Americans and consumers the world over are committed to patronizing companies and businesses that are doing their part to slow the spread of the virus. Highlight your commitment to the health of the nation while you implement these fast-and-fun digital marketing strategies.

  • • According to statistics, 92% of consumers trust recommendations they get from friends and family, so the first key strategy is this: let your target audience market for you.
  • • Offer free trials in exchange for positive testimonials posted to your Facebook Business Page and Instagram Business Profile. This strategy is a cost-effective way to turn select customers into brand influencers who endorse your store and products, and commend you for how you’ve accommodated your customers during the pandemic.
  • • Be sure to “sell the story” and “not the product” in your social media posts. While the image you post might (and should) depict the product or service you’re selling, try to tailor the caption so that it captures the story. For example, if you’re a diner promoting two-for-one burgers as delivery and curbside pickup, test out captions like, “There’s nothing like an ‘essential’ joyride with the whole fam to pick up the twins’ favorite burgers! Who said shelter-in-place can’t be adventurous?”