The essential checklist for businesses affected by COVID-19
COVID-19 is rapidly impacting businesses across the UK. Here's your essential checklist to make sure that you're dealing with it in the right way.
Published: 28 Mar 2020
5 minutes read
The COVID-19 outbreak is likely the biggest global event that many of us will see in our lifetimes. Businesses have been forced to close, international lockdowns are in place, and the UK is seeing some of the strictest rules since wartime. In the wake of this, thousands of businesses are panicking about the potential impact that the pandemic might have on their future. To combat this, we’ve put together an essential checklist to make sure that you’re dealing with this crisis in the right way.
Send an email
We’re all getting sick of the emails - every company that you’ve ever given your email to is suddenly informing you in great detail about what they’re doing in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Some are annoying, but there is a really good reason for them.
Your contacts, prospects, clients, and even past customers are all dealing with the fallout of this pandemic, just like you are. We’re facing a huge, global event that is likely to cause months of uncertainty, and with this, businesses are having to adapt quickly. An email is a great way to highlight exactly how your business is dealing with this, and is also a great chance to reassure contacts. In a time when they may be feeling fear, an email that is comforting, truthful, and honest is a great idea.
Try sending separate emails regarding COVID-19 to different subscriber lists. You wouldn’t send the same email to someone who downloaded an asset months ago to someone who is a current customer, so make sure that you are adding a personal touch to reflect your relationship with the contact. Using your marketing tool, segment your contacts and send out a personalised email that covers what your company is doing to stay safe and support the local community.
Acknowledge the changing situation
Something we’ve noticed over the past few weeks is that businesses have a tendency to carry on as they were before. This means that scheduled campaigns are still running, emails are still being sent, and social media posts that were queued up months ago are still going live.
This isn’t the way to be working.
Your potential customers are on the internet now more than ever, and if they’re seeing the same old posts, with no acknowledgement of the current situation, they’re likely to think of you as unprepared, unconcerned, and at worst, disconnected from reality. Continuing as if everything is the same as it was before highlights that your business is lacking in agility, and signals that you haven’t got the capabilities to keep up with the world, never mind your customers!
Take the time, at times of great stress, to rethink your marketing strategy. Are you attempting to ‘keep calm and carry on’, or are you addressing stressful situations in a mature, honest way? Your prospects will value the latter, and you’ll come across as a more sensible, human business.
Check on your targeting for paid
The first thing that B2B companies do when all hell breaks loose is to reduce their marketing budget, cut all paid advertising, and dramatically lessen the amount of content that is being created. This is not your best move - marketing will be what pulls your business through the difficult times, and if you have been forced to close, it is what will put you back on your feet. If you cut back now, you risk losing all of the potential customers that are currently considering your product or service - not a good idea given recent developments.
However, there are ways to invest in your marketing now, without actually investing in your marketing now. If you’re already running paid ads, whether this is on social media or search engines, now is the time to make sure that you are targeting the right base of people, and keywords. Use exclusions to target efficiently, and experiment with keywords to find what works best for you.
Update your opening hours
If you’ve had to close over this time, ensure that this information is available to your prospects and customers. You can do this via a public post, updating your website, and amending your opening hours within your Google My Business listing. This is a small, but important step to keep both clients and prospects informed.
While you are updating your Google My Business listing, it might be a good idea to revisit the information on there and ensure that you have an engaging description, plenty of great photos and (importantly) that your map listing is pointing to the right place. If you’re playing the long game with an SEO strategy, your Google My Business listing is essential - don’t neglect it!
Events across the globe are being cancelled daily, and this is something that is holding many companies back. If you had trade shows planned, or meetings with potential clients, then the grounding of flights and the cancellation of mass gatherings has likely had a big impact on your plans for the year. However, just because in-person meetings are off the table, doesn’t mean that you can’t carry on with meetings and events. The answer is to just go digital.
Virtual meetings have been made easier by software such as Zoom, Google Hangouts or Microsoft Teams, as well as the OG, Skype. Using these tools, you can conduct video meetings and one-to-one conversations from the comfort of your own home, and they also offer a range of tools to ensure that you’re getting an experience that is as close to a real-life meeting as possible.
As for events, just because you can’t attend in person, doesn’t mean that you still can’t throw an event! Take the time to look into creating webinars via Zoom, or run virtual events such as AMAs, seminars, and activity sessions to keep your digital visitors engaged.
This is the number one rule of dealing with a crisis such as COVID-19. If your company isn’t adaptable, then you’re likely looking at a downturn in sales, and in customer satisfaction. Something that you need to prioritise above all is the agility of your business and marketing strategy, in the face of issues such as these, and you’ll be surprised by how much your contacts appreciate it. Make sure that you are reacting swiftly, honestly, and reliably to current events and developments, and don’t assume that carrying on as normal is the best option.
Importantly, remember that this is the time you need your marketing the most. Cutting back on your efforts now might save money in the short term, but it will lead to a drop in profit in the long term. Without focusing your marketing efforts, and working to nurture prospects now, there will be no prospects further down the line, worsening an already bad situation. Work with your sales team, your marketing team, and your customer service team through difficult times to keep your company thriving. They are key to keeping your client base happy, and if they’re aligned correctly, then you can still nurture strangers into customers in times of uncertainty.
Want to rethink your strategy to power through the next few months? Our digital marketing bundle offers a three month calendar to plan out your efforts, as well as some information on how to come up with a strategy that suits your business. Your marketing might be one of the last things on your mind at the moment, but that doesn’t mean that it should be left behind.