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How Small Businesses Can Market Themselves During A Crisis

Kent Moon
Kent Moon
Owner/President at Addressers

The world is currently going through very unprecedented times. One small business owner offers guidance to fellow business owners on how their company can survive.

The world is currently going through very unprecedented times with the coronavirus. Businesses of all sizes are hurting across the country, and there is a lot of confusion about what a small business should do during this time of unknown. I hope to provide some guidance on how small businesses, like the one I manage, can continue to survive through marketing.

Is now an appropriate time to market your business? 

This current circumstance of mandatory in-home orders can be devastating for small businesses as consumers are unable to venture outside of their homes and generate spending income; however, this doesn't mean businesses should stop marketing.

A recent study revealed the negative future effects of cutting advertising during the 2008 Great Recession. The study demonstrated that strong brands that continued to advertise to keep their brand alive during the recession recovered nine times faster once the economy rebounded. Maintaining current relationships and beginning new relationships is important to generate revenue for your company now and beyond the crisis. In fact, according to a Harvard Business Review study, acquiring a new customer can be five to 25 times more expensive than retaining a current customer. Failure to maintain relationships may end up threatening the long term future of your business or organization.

Which businesses and organizations should be marketing at the moment?

Additional questions to ask yourself are do your customers need you at this time? Will people still request your business in this crisis? If the answers to the questions above are a definitive yes, your business should make an effort to inform your customers about your business and organization; don't expect them to do the research themselves. For instance, educate your prospects and customers that your brick-and-mortar stores have closed, but your business has moved online to an e-commerce store. Let consumers know of new solutions, discounts or offerings that you have developed to help them out in this crisis.  

Review your pre-coronavirus marketing plans and rearrange the strategies and budget

Prioritize how you can best maintain customer relationships and support your customers with a limited budget. It is important to remember to not be insensitive and have your marketing be appropriate with the current context. Most importantly, don't overdo it. Customer behaviors are changing more than ever. Everyone is home and everything has switched online. Small businesses must adjust their strategies to adapt to this change in customer behavior. 

How to market your business in this crisis

This step involves asking yourself how your business can provide value in these difficult times. It is not the time for big-budget advertising but cost-efficient and proven marketing strategies. 

Cost-effective marketing strategies begin with developing content online. If you don't have an online website, I recommend focusing on creating an online presence. This includes self-produced content by writing consistent blogs, video tutorials and hosting Q&A sessions to keep your consumers engaged, and to seize the interest of prospects. A developed online presence will organically boost your search engine optimization status with Google. As a small business owner, I use Squarespace.  

Another marketing strategy that adjusts to consumers staying home is direct mail. Direct mail continues to be one of the most consistent and cost-efficient marketing strategies that seizes the opportunity of everyone being home. It is an easy, time-saving strategy that doesn't require the development of a website nor online presence. Direct mail drives leads by being personal, targeting the right audience with targeted mailing lists, and it has the ability to stand out amongst competitors. Direct mail marketing is a fantastic way to communicate with consumers directly and to maintain that pre-coronavirus relationship. 

The last strategy to utilize in this time of crisis is email marketing. Email marketing is simple and easy! You first need an email mailing list that can either be cheaply purchased by data providers or you can utilize your own organic email customer list. Email mailing lists are customizable, and you can segment them by income, demographic, age and more to develop a list of consumers that best works for your small business. Email marketing service providers that I have utilized in the past are Constant Contact and Mailchimp.

As an expert in the direct mail industry and an active user in online marketing, I believe these strategies can help market small businesses in this time of crisis. Remember, you are not alone! Whether it's direct mail, website design and SEO, and online email marketing, there are companies out there that can provide marketing services to help you out.

On a final note, stay positive, as this crisis with COVID-19 will pass! Stay in contact with your clients and keep your business afloat by adapting and continuing to market your business.

Best of luck!

Image Credit: Cressida studio / Getty Images
Kent Moon
Kent Moon
business.com Member
See Kent Moon's Profile
I have 30+ years of experience in direct mail industry. For first 10 years, I worked for several national direct mail companies. Since 2002, I owned and operated, Addressers, a direct mail and fulfillment company located in Southern California. Even in declining direct industry, Addressers had been growing steadily since the beginning. Currently, Addressers have 50+ employee and mail about 50 millions pieces per year.