Assess, Plan, Adapt: Tips to Help Your Business through COVID-19
We know your inbox and social feeds are filled to the brim with COVID-19 related content so we’re not here to rehash what has been countlessly iterated so many times. Instead, we’ve put together some resources and tips to help your business adapt to the changes and build a bridge between now and the other side of this.
1. First things first, Keep Your Communication Channels Open
We get it – you might be anxious to say the wrong thing but it’s important to let your circle know of your commitment to serving them with relevant, personalised communications.
Being transparent with your customers will go a long way toward maintaining trust and brand loyalty. Similarly, clear, effective and constant communication with your employees is key to avoid any sort of misunderstanding, especially when working remotely.
Here are some tips on how you can reach your customers from behind a screen:
Tip #1: Use Email Marketing the Right Way
The rush to send out emails to your contacts over the past few weeks is the business equivalent of people queuing Woolies for toilet paper— you don’t know why you’re doing it but everyone else is doing so you scramble to do the same.
Your customers’ inboxes are undoubtedly flooded with the same email from brands; basic structure, unnecessarily long, and few of which actually have a point.
This is not to say that you shouldn’t communicate with your customers. It’s important, now more than ever, to get in touch and let your customers know what the current situation means for your business, employees and community.
But before you hit send, ask these 5 questions to help you streamline your COVID-19 email update:
- Why is it important for your customer to hear from you at this time?
- What relevant information do you have to convey?
- Have you kept your tone of voice consistent and in line with your brand?
- As a business, can you help or add value to their lives? If not, it is best to keep it simple.
- Lastly, have you proofread and inbox tested your email at least twice?
Here’s a good example from Style Story – short, succinct, and has all the information a customer needs.
If you are looking for more email marketing tips, we’ve got 7 more that you can easily apply.
Tip #2: Get in touch with your customers anywhere with SMS
Sometimes the best way to communicate is to keep it simple, short and sweet. With SMS marketing, you can send out real-time updates – in bulk – straight to mobile phones either by one way or two way messaging. This is especially useful for updating contacts without access to WiFi or internet connection.
Tip #3: Get Interactive with Webinars
Instead of cancelling events and traditional marketing activities because of social distancing restrictions, event organisers are now switching to hosting virtual conferences or webinars.
For businesses, webinars are also a great way to get in front of hundreds of potential clients or host more intimate workshops with your current customers to strengthen brand loyalty.
If you are a supplier or entrepreneur who provides services to restaurant owners, consider running webinars around content that is relevant to helping their businesses through this climate. Just remember that it’s not the time to promote your brand. Instead, use this platform to give value to your customers— something they can consume at home and put to action as soon as their doors open once again.
Some Virtual Event Platforms you should consider:
- YouTube Live – free, easy way to reach your audience in real-time
- GoToWebinar – easily create custom landing pages for registrations, and lets you share your live webinar recording with your guests
- On24 – has event analytics and interactive webinar features such as polls, surveys and more
- Zoom – lets you interact with up to 100 of your guests. It also provides closed captioning text!
- Cameleon Live – lets you live stream events across multiple social platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Twitch, Weibo and others.
2. Keep your Finance in Check & Your Cash Flow Organised
This seems like an obvious one, however we know that in unpredicted times, some business owners have a knee-jerk reaction and make cost-cutting decisions that may actually be more harmful than helpful.
Start simple and divide expenses into “must-have” and “nice to have”. Keeping your records up to date and making sure you have real-time information will help you make informed and rational decisions for the now and the long term. You probably don’t need the weekly fruit delivery, printed collateral or magazine subscriptions. But you might need to keep your marketing ad campaigns up and running to protect your brand presence online.
Then list possible or current impacts on your business, such as sales, staff availability, supply chain, and the likes. This enables you to get a holistic view of your business’ current situation and be able to identify possible strategies to ease the impacts.
This also makes a great exercise for grounding oneself mentally, bringing a bit of clarity to you and your teams, and keeping normality in moments of unpredictability. And, if you can manage to keep in front of your customers when the market rebounds, you stand a far better chance of riding that wave too!
3. Get Your Business Online
Now more than ever, when everyone is off the streets and on their computers, it is highly important to get your business online.
If you don’t have a website yet, fret not! With the wide range of tools and solutions on the market today, getting your business online no longer requires knowing how to code or spending thousands of dollars. Google even lets you build your first website for free!
Shopify, WordPress, Squarespace also offer free or cheap starter plans with easy to use website builders that let you create a basic website in just an afternoon. And to help you keep things running smoothly, Vision6 directly integrates with WordPress which allows you to grow your leads through web forms and send autoresponders to keep them informed. Similarly, our direct Shopify integration lets you set up automated emails to remind customers about their abandoned cart.
Example Website Pop Up from Paramount Coffee Project
4. Manage Your Local Business Listings
The first thing your customers will do is Google if you are still open or not so be sure to update your business hours if they have changed so they know when to visit. Google My Business has also introduced a new functionality where you can mark your business as ‘temporarily’ or ‘permanently’ closed.
And if you have switched to working from home, make sure to check that your business phone number is up to date so you don’t miss out on any potential customer enquiries. You can also use Google Posts for any updates which you can link straight to your website or Facebook post.
Here’s a guide (straight from the source) on how you can use Google My Business during these times.
5. Don’t Forget About Your Business’ Social Media Presence!
Social Media isn’t anything new yet most businesses still neglect this channel. A simple Facebook or Instagram post is a very easy way to update your customers, let them know of any changes to your business hours or operations, and even engage with them online! Some businesses like Barre Body, a barre and pilates studio, have even taken to Facebook and Instagram Live to host their virtual fitness classes.
Amp up your social media game and online presence with these helpful and FREE online tools.
6. Keep Your Teams In Sync with Online Collaboration Tools
In a few short days, most businesses have shifted from working onsite to working from home. While it certainly is a big change, it’s not the end for team collaboration.
At Vision6, we have teams across the globe so we’re not new to remote teamwork. We switch between Zoom and Google Hangouts for video calls and check-ins, and Google Chat throughout the day. You can also use Slack, Microsoft Teams or Fleep. Our product trainers also use Calendly and Zoom for training sessions so they can train you wherever your team might be.
For collaborating on projects, we like to keep it simple and good old Google Docs and Sheets do the trick. You can see who made changes, who is working on it and control who can edit and see your documents. It even has chat features so no need for switching apps! I also like Asana for project management and making to-do lists for myself.
Jess, our CMO and work-from-home expert, shared her 5 Tips for Teams working from home. She manages our Brisbane-based marketing team from California so she knows everything about working from home and collaborating with teams remotely.
Little tip from me, if you’re finding it hard to stay motivated: I like to use the 2 Minute Rule to kick-off my workday. I found that making myself do a work-related task that takes less than 2 minutes helps put my head in gear.
Outside the Box Ideas: What Other Businesses are Doing to Adapt
Businesses in Australia and across the globe have taken this challenge head-on and found some pretty clever ideas to make the best out of the current sitch.
For example, some local businesses have created promotions around Gift Cards and advance reservations. Whether it’s a 15% off their next meal or a free beauty treatment, this gives customers a great reason to be local when it’s finally time to be out and about again.
Distiller Archie Rose shifted their production from artisan gin to hand sanitisers (now sold out at time of writing), in order to not only contribute to replenishing the hand sani drought but also help maintain as many of their employees as possible.
JD.com and Taihe Music Group have partnered to create an online clubbing experience, sponsored by major alcohol brands like Carlsberg, Pernod Ricard, Budweiser and Rémy Martin. While ‘going out’ turned to ‘staying’, JD.com says this has increased sales of alcohol by almost 70% and 40% during some shows.
Local eateries and bars have also started selling their inventories of perishables. It provides some extra income, reduces food waste and eases panic buying. I recently scored a bushel of apples, a whole pumpkin, a bag of carrots, and half a dozen wine bottles for cheap!
And lastly, Canlis, a fine-dining restaurant based in Seattle, shifted from to-go-box-incompatible souffles and Chawanmushi (Japanese egg custard with hedgehog mushroom and geoduck) to brekky bagels, burgers, fries and ice cream sandwiches available to go, delivered or via their newly appointed drive-thru window.
You Got This!
The multitude of technology we have available means you don’t have to completely close up shop. Australian businesses are resilient, strong and innovative. Slowly but surely, we can all make it through this. I hope you find these tips helpful! On behalf of the Vision6 team, we wish you and all your loved ones’ safety and good health.
In the meantime, if you need any help getting started or setting up your email or SMS campaigns, please do not hesitate to contact our Customer Success team who are still online and available for you when you need them.
Some Other Useful Resources
- COVID-19 Employer Guide originally published by the Australian Chamber of Commerce & Industry (ACCI). Thorough guide that outlines what your obligations as an employer are, making sure you provide your employees with appropriate working conditions and leave entitlements, working from home health and safety.
- Eventbrite Tips on Hosting a Virtual Event – Great tips from Eventbrite on hosting events online plus 10 virtual event ideas to make your own
- Coronavirus and Australian workplace laws from FairWork Ombudsman – Essential guide for employers and employees regarding COVID-19 and Australian Workplace laws
- COVID-19 Contingency Plan Example Checklist from CPA Australia
- Australian Government’s Economic Response to Coronavirus – Information on COVID-19 Stimulus Package for Businesses
- Something a little fun: Need a pub break? The Staying Inn is a virtual pub simulation where you can be immersed in the sounds of your local pub while staying safe. Its BYO – beers, gin, parmie, schnitzels, chippies, mocktails, whatever floats your boat.