How to Pivot Your Small Business Strategy During the COVID-19 Crisis

BusinessMarketing & Advertising

  • Author Susan Friesen
  • Published April 16, 2020
  • Word count 1,182

Easy Ways to Create a Coronavirus Crisis Management Plan

As small business owners, we’re prepared for a lot of things, whether it’s a seasonal shift in sales or an unexpected employee absence we have to step in and cover.

But we’ve never seen anything like the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving us uncertain about how to cope in these strange times.

I know that this is a scary and isolating time both personally and professionally. I hope you’re staying safe and healthy, and that this article can help you with planning for business challenges related to the coronavirus.

I’ve personally had to pivot many times as an entrepreneur, and while it can be stressful, it can also be a time of innovation and growth.

As you’re creating your coronavirus crisis management plan for business, here are a few things to focus on:

The Importance of Helping Over Selling

I get that you have a company to run, and I’m not suggesting you start giving things away for free or risk your health to open up shop. What I’m recommending is that you take a step back and think about your community while you’re running your company.

Maybe there is a way that what you offer could help people in this difficult time. One of our clients, The Broken Whisk, has had to stop serving customers in their Agassiz, B.C. restaurant. They instead created a select menu of gourmet meals for only $5 each, which can be ordered in advance and picked up.

And not only is their Facebook post getting liked and shared because it’s a delicious offer and a way of giving back to the community, it’s also started a chain of charitable giving. More and more people are donating money to buy meals for those in need.

Is there a way you can adapt your current marketing model to better serve your customers and community?

Online Events & Offerings

Obviously, hosting a conference or awards dinner is off-limits at the moment. A huge part of your planning for business challenges related to COVID-19 is going to include an online marketing strategy.

Think of some ways you can still connect people from the comfort of home, including webinars, Facebook Live videos and virtual conferences using tools like Zoom. And don’t just focus on coronavirus-related content. Keep producing video that will benefit your small business marketing strategy long after the COVID-19 crisis is over.

Here’s a good example of a pivot to online marketing. A Stroke of Genius is a client of ours located in North Vancouver, BC. As an interior decorator, Barbara Aylesworth has built her company working directly with clients and manufacturers. However, with the COVID-19 crisis, she’s had to pivot her marketing strategy to include virtual consultations and project management.

Barb is also inviting people to send in their pics of decorating and design challenges via Instagram, offering to then send her ideas for possible solutions.

This is a fun and inspiring way to engage her community when people need it the most!

Read Should You Stop Marketing During COVID-19?

Unless you sell toilet paper or hand sanitizer, you may be concerned about the impact of the coronavirus on your small business; your revenue, employees, and empty marketing funnel. So does that mean you should hunker down and stop your marketing efforts for the time being? No!

I’m a firm believer in focusing on what we can do and change while finding the opportunities amidst adversity. In this article, I’m sharing some ways you can address the challenge of marketing during a crisis and keep your company going.

Business Planning for Future Growth

Of course you have to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic with the right messaging, but don’t get tunnel vision when it comes to your marketing strategy and ad dollars.

While consumers are spending more time online, they’re not keen to make decisions about the future right now. If you have a service that requires your customers to plan far ahead or travel, your conversion rate will suffer during the outbreak. So don’t expect that the same content and ads that brought in traffic before the pandemic will keep coming.

But all is not lost! This can be an opportunity to engage with your customers on social media and increase your brand awareness with content and even paid advertising. With paid ads, you may even find that you have less online competition during an economic downturn, meaning you’ll pay less for more eyeballs and clicks.

From promoting spring-themed gift cards on your website to creating useful articles on financial planning during COVID-19, give your customers a reason to stick with you—even if the pandemic is bringing you more business.

For example, Your Yoga Flow is an online app that provides virtual yoga classes. If anything, they’re seeing an increase in sales as people try to stay active and healthy while cooped up at home. By not just selling their services, but providing a free meditation during "these trying times," they boost brand awareness, give something back and stay top-of-mind.

If you’re willing to look forward while creating your coronavirus crisis management plan, you’ll be better positioned to stay relevant and remarket to your audience at a later time.

Empowering Your Employees

According to recent statistics, over 500,000 Canadians, or approximately 2.5% of the workforce, have filed E.I. applications already. If you haven’t had to make hard decisions about laying off staff, how can you keep your team busy and optimistic about the future?

Here are a few ideas:

● Offer training opportunities to help your team and your company in the long-term—whether that’s getting a new certification or reading relevant industry books.

● Consider making vacation policies or work hours more flexible to accommodate employees whose kids may be out of school, for example.

● Share jobs across departments to increase responsiveness to your customers.

● Involve your team in "back burner" projects or things you’ve put off because you were too busy before.

If your team is working remotely, make sure to check in with them often. A virtual daily coffee or 15-minute meeting to see how everyone is doing can be vital to your team’s mental health and well-being.

No matter what type of company you have, your customers are looking for help and assurance right now. As you’re developing your coronavirus crisis management plan, keep in mind that everyone is being bombarded with messaging noise.

That means emails from every company they ever followed on social media, bought a product from or signed up to get an eNewsletter from! As you pivot your small business marketing strategy to survive the COVID-19 crisis, make sure all of your communications provide succinct, meaningful and relevant information.

The more value you can offer your customers right now, the more successful you’ll be as we shift to a new way of marketing and emerge from a global crisis that made our world a lot smaller.

Visit www.ultimatewebsiteguide.ca and download your FREE "Ultimate Guide to Improving Your Website's Profitability - 10 Critical Questions You Must Ask to Get Maximum Results".

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