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The United States (and the whole world) is going through a difficult economic situation with the coronavirus pandemic. The unemployment rate has increased, and this great recession is causing many businesses to go under.
Do you feel like your business is taking a nosedive? Today, many business owners feel some degree of uncertainty. The world is changing; that can be hard to accept, but if you can adjust your mindset and embrace the changes, you’ll increase your chances of success.
Now, you may not be able to go to work physically, but there’re plenty of useful things you can do at home to help your business survive and possibly even thrive. First, you must understand what your customers want. Most people are focused on survival, safety, and security rather than abundance right now, so you should adjust your marketing goals and marketing plan accordingly. Next, you need to ask yourself how you can help your customers get what they want and need.
To answer that question, you need to understand the psychology of your customers during a recession. Typically, when doing a marketing analysis, you review the demographics and lifestyle choices of your customers, but during a recession, customers’ psychological responses to the changing economy are more relevant.
What is their buying behavior right now? How have their priorities changed? How can you best support them? Do you understand recession psychology and how it’s affecting the buying trends of your customer base?
According to Harvard Business Review, your customers who are going through this recession fall into one of these four groups:
- The slam-on-the-brakes consumers decrease their spending by stopping, postponing, or substituting purchases.
- The pained-but-patient consumers tend to be more optimistic and resilient, but still very cautious and aware of their buying habits.
- The comfortably well-off consumers are more confident and secure with their choices; their spending has not changed much.
- The live-for-today consumers purchase at the same rate they did before the recession.
Regardless of which group your customers fall under, they all prioritize their purchases in the following four categories:
- Essentials – Necessary for survival
- Treats – Justified indulgences
- Postponeables – Items that can be purchased later
- Expendables – Unjustifiable and unnecessary
Which group do your customers fall under? What category does your product or service fall under? Are you essential?
Check out the following table to further understand your consumers’ ever-changing buying behavior. Are you in a stable market or a declining one? If you find yourself in the red, it may be time to switch marketing tactics.
You should now have a good understanding of your customers’ buying behavior. You must learn the needs of your existing and potential customers so you can best support them.
Sometimes the best results come during the hardest times. When you change your mindset from selling to helping, you will find loyal customers who will always remember what you did for them during this economic downturn.
Your business may be closed physically, but you can still put a positive spin on a negative situation. This article will walk you through 10 ways to keep your business afloat during a recession – things you can do at home while you practice social distancing.
It’s now the age of the virtual world, so jump on board to see which ways you can get your business to succeed. The following marketing methods can all be done in the comfort of your home.
1. Focus on Customers by Using a Relevant Marketing Strategy
Get creative in the ways you can help your customers from a distance. Do you own or operate a grocery store? Make your marketing efforts relevant to your customers’ needs.
For example, share the social distancing guidelines for shopping at your store. Offer home delivery or pick up. You can even attract new customers by advertising specials, coupons, promotional deals, etc. on a blog or website.
Consider working with a marketing strategist who can help you build a solid blog – one that will keep your loyal customers happy while building a new customer base. Then, work on content marketing, a type of marketing that provides relevant, useful content to customers.
Forbes Magazine explains content marketing to be a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience to drive profitable customer action.
According to SEMRush, content marketing can provide you with 55% more traffic; it also costs 62% less than traditional marketing, and with content marketing, you are 13 times more likely to generate a positive return on investment.
The best way to provide content marketing is to find out what your customers want. You can do this by doing marketing research and by performing an audience analysis, which will help you in giving your customers the relevant, useful content they need.
A proper content marketing strategy will increase brand awareness, traffic, customers’ engagement, and sales. Content marketing also provides you with the opportunity to promote your authority on the industry, which gives you a competitive edge over the competition.
If you currently have a strong customer base, it’s time to rock their world and maintain their loyalty by keeping them happy. How can you best support and help them? What do they need?
If your customer base is small and personal, reach out personally to each one of them. Consider video conferencing, using an email list to reach out, or calling clients directly. Make them feel special; don’t just send out a form email or generic message. Personalize it.
Discover what method of communication makes their life easier, and master it. Once you figure out the best way to reach your target audience, take action right away through a direct marketing campaign.
Mail out flyers; do email marketing so your customers know you are thinking of them and their individual needs. Motivate them to take immediate action by offering a promotional sale, coupons, deals, or freebies.
2. Create Promotional Material to Advertise Your Business
Now is the time to create all the promotional information you’ve been meaning to develop. Work on your brand awareness by creating a catchy logo, an updated professional picture of you for social media, or a memorable slogan for your company.
Promotional material may include business cards, brochures, flyers, etc. Go ahead and send that professional picture and order business cards online. For your brochures, flyers, and other promotional material, you may want to hire a specialist to help you find what will capture your audience’s attention the most.
Consider launching a digital course or an original coaching program; make a useful printable that your customers can download; create a video tutorial series on your blog; do valuable things for your customers, and then cross off projects like this from your big to-do list.
Get creative and figure out how you can make the most of the newfound popularity of the virtual world. How can you reach your target audience at home? You may have to change your tactics and thinking a little bit, but by meeting the new needs of your customers, you have opened a new door for them to engage with you. You just need to get creative with what you can offer them.
3. Get Additional Exposure by Working with Your Peers
The old “do unto others” verse is very applicable here. Network with other like-minded business professionals and watch your company’s success soar. How can you meet other career-focused individuals?
- Attend conferences online
- Plan and create workshops
- Join business associations
You may gain insight into your industry by working with your peers. See what they are doing right and fall in line. Ask them for advice on how to serve your customers best. What do you have to lose?
Often, people welcome the opportunity to share their secrets to success. Their insight may help you reach your customers in new and exciting ways.
Other ways to reach out to gain exposure and to show your expertise is to answer questions customers may have. Create a FAQ (frequently asked questions) section on your company’s website to help customers find the information they are looking for.
You can also get your name out there by guest blogging, participating in industry forums, or joining relevant discussion groups. If they find your answers or comments useful, there’s a good chance they’ll check out you or your blog and maybe even become a loyal customer!
4. Hire the Help You Need to Succeed
You may already feel overwhelmed. How can you get everything you want to accomplish done? Do you lack the specific skills needed to produce and maintain a blog for your company? Do you understand SEO and how it affects your content?
It may be time to expand your team. Maybe you’ve been meaning to hire the right individuals to help you succeed but haven’t had the time. Now, you may have the time you have needed. Examine your budget, but don’t be too cheap when hiring help.
There’s nothing worse than hiring someone unqualified to do a job that you have to pay someone else even more to fix. Do it right the first time around. Aim for the best people to work with.
Find and hire the right social media expert, tax accountant, content writer, or some other professional that can help your business grow; now is a great time to get online and do a search to find the next members of your team.
Some of the more popular places to find employees online are:
To hire freelancers, check out these websites:
Before posting a job or hiring an individual, make sure you have a clear understanding of your budget, what you are looking for, what you specifically need, and what kind of deadlines you expect to be followed. There’s no point in posting a sloppy job. If you don’t have the specifics ready to share, you will waste a lot of time trying to clarify your objectives.
5. Strategize by Analyzing the Competition
If you are working at home, you have an excellent opportunity to dive into analytics. Conduct your own market analysis.
Learn what your competition is doing and develop your original winning strategy based on their successes. Can you top the competition? What are they doing wrong? What are they doing right?
Looking at what your competition is a great way to come up with a strategy of your own – one that will help you win new customers or even recruit customers from your competition by offering them something better.
Study your competition to help improve or build your marketing strategy. Now is the time to develop and implement ways to win over the competitor’s customers or to find a new niche of customers on your own. What can you do better? What is a new or different way you can help people?
Get creative with how you market to your customers. Provided you continue to sell and offer help to your customers during this time, you can get ahead of the competition. What is their behavior like in this economy? Do they have a successful strategy?
If they are at a standstill, acting more like the pained-but-patient or slam-on-the-brakes consumers, you can gain a competitive edge by implementing a content marketing strategy, helping your customers with useful information. Most action is better than no action; in other words, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and take the lead against your competitors.
For example, if you own a grocery store and the competition is offering sales via their website, what if you took it a step further, offering customers sales AND information about all the ways you are keeping your store safe. Explain the latest news regarding social distancing and tell customers how you are handling it so that they feel secure shopping with you.
6. Use SEO Tactics to Improve Your Website’s Content
Now is the time to learn about SEO (search engine optimization) or to use it effectively on your company’s website or blog. The best SEO tactics include the understanding of Google and keywords. If you are already lost, you would greatly benefit from the help of a social media expert.
A social media expert or SEO content creator can optimize the content on your website or blog so that when people are searching for information on the internet that applies to your industry, they will find you. They know how to place your blog at the top of Google’s search engine results page.
SEO experts understands things like how to do proper keyword research and the appropriate keyword density to use for Google to find your content. This person can also research your competition to see where you can gain that competitive edge.
A social media expert can also help you reach out to other professionals in your industry by using social networks. They can help you build a social media presence online through social media. They can even do the posting on social networks for you.
They can also help you keep your content fresh and continuous with a social media content calendar, which will help you regularly have new content posted on your blog. They can help you find a quality writer to write the content for your blog, while they focus on getting the content seen by the right audience.
Media specialists have all sorts of skills, so take the opportunity of time right now to hire one, and make sure you aim for quality. The list of ways they can help you is endless, so consult with one to see how he or she can help you sustain and grow your business successfully.
7. Create or Improve Your Business’s Blog or Website
If you do not have a blog or website for your company, what are you waiting for? Even if you own a restaurant, you can benefit from a blog. Add your menu, specials, history, and even a biography section about the owner. Work with a social media specialist to get your first website up and running.
If you have a blog that you currently write and publish for, you now have the time to get it full of relevant content. Add all those extras that you have always wanted to add, like beautiful images of the food you serve, nutritional information for the dinner dishes you offer, and general ingredients/recipe information – anything that could benefit your patrons.
If they come to your website to read about food on your blog and see delicious pictures of your homemade tamales, and read about the safety precautions you are taking, they may just hit you up for an order. It’s all about what they need NOW as opposed to a couple of months ago.
Now, they want to know how you are helping with this crisis – not just how you are the best. Focus on what your customers want (safety, survival, and security), not on what they don’t (abundance, a full belly, and to be around a crowd). Remember, the world has changed, and so have customers’ wants.
So, take the time to write about your business in a useful, valuable way, post useful content in a blog, create instructional manuals, “how-to” blog posts, webinars, podcasts, or update the content that’s already out there on your company’s website. Make wise use of your time or hire someone to help you write quality content for your blog.
8. Do Pro Bono or Volunteer Work
Show your softer side by continuing to work from home for free. Of course, no one wants to work for free, but if you are at a standstill with your current job and have the time, go for it.
You can further your exposure by doing work for those who are less fortunate – not to mention that it feels really good. You might be surprised; often, we get more out of volunteering ourselves than we give – or at least it feels that way.
Find those who are in need right now who could use your help and shift your talents to help them. If potential customers get wind that you are doing pro bono work, you may just win them over, as they can see you have a heart and strong ethics that they are looking for.
Pro bono or volunteer work is a great way to get your name out there and increase your customer base, too. Plus, it’s an almost effortless thing to do. It doesn’t matter what industry you are in or where your talents are; there’s room for you to help others right now.
For example, hospitals need sewers to hand-make face masks, and journalists who can research and report about the latest news on COVID-19 are in demand. Find your particular niche, and you will find where you can help out.
9. Increase Your Qualifications
If you are stuck at home with no work, now is the time to beef up that resume. Hire a resume expert to help you have the best resume for your industry; they can also help with cover letters and portfolios.
You can also increase your skills by taking courses online, learning Microsoft short-cuts, improving your typing speed, and familiarizing yourself with different software programs. Don’t forget to update your resume and Linked-in profile with your new skills!
While you are improving your skillset, consider improving or increasing your knowledge of your business or industry. The wiser you are, the more customers will value your expert advice or assistance.
So, take the time to study for those exams, certifications, continued learning classes, etc. Are you an accountant, but have the qualifications to take the CPA exam? Study up, and when the time comes, you can pass it with flying colors.
10. Be Active with Social Media Networks
Your customers want to hear from you, and potential customers want to meet you. One of the easiest and best ways to show you are a “person,” not just a company, is to get involved with social networking. Create a social networking presence or hire a social media specialist who can help you navigate these uncharted waters.
Social media marketing can be one a great way to get in front of your potential prospects. According to Entrepreneur, social media is where the magic is happening. It suggests you post anything relevant and useful – things that will help your audience learn about you, your business, or the industry you are in.
There are hundreds of social networking options out there, so be sure to focus on the ones that are relevant to your industry. For example, an artist would find Instagram and Pinterest useful since they are very visual networking sites. Other popular social networks include Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Linked-in, and more.
Bonus Tip: Get Administrative Tasks Done Now
Do you need to do your taxes? The deadline has been extended to July 15, but that’s one thing you can get out of the way. Do you have an eBook you need to have written to go with a product you are selling? What are you waiting for?
Have you been putting off some projects that just need to be worked on? Get them out and think of the fulfillment you will feel when you get them out of the way!
This list should give you a good deal of work to do if you are at home, feeling as though your business may be suffering or going under right now. Instead, be proactive and positive, reach out to the right people, and get organized.
Think about the fact that your customers are stuck at home right now. How can your products and services be catered to them right now? Take a moment to reflect and to get a positive mindset. Use this time to be creative in how you can help others.
We all have different purposes now that the world is changing; we have to solve different problems that we never expected. Where do you fit in, and what problems can you help solve? How can you reach your customers’ changing needs? Use your time at home wisely.
Now is the time to get caught up on everything and be prepared for when you are back at the physical office. But keep in mind the fact that you will be remembered for what you are doing right now, in the middle of this crisis, and you will come out of this; you just need to have the right mindset.
Jay Bilunas is a graphic designer and marketing consultant. He loves helping small businesses succeed with great marketing and design. He also teaches and tries to help up and coming designers.