No need to say it, but I will because that’s how blog posts go – Many small businesses are having a rough go in the time of coronavirus. If you’re in the vacation industry, I really feel for you as the vacation travel sector has almost completely dried up and I doubt anyone is considering planning a cruise anytime in the next year plus.
No matter your industry, there is not doubt that every small business owner has had to make changes to their every day business operations. If you’re an “essential business” you’re “lucky” enough to have the impossible decision to make, balancing the safety and well-being of your employees against the negative financial impact temporarily closing the doors may have on your business.
I do not envy this decision.
I’ve put together a list of things you can do to make sure you’re staying in front of your customers and continuing to offer your services and products during this difficult time.
Don’t mark your business as CLOSED on Google My Business
Many small business owners will be tempted to changed their business listing on Google My Business, Bing Places and other local directories to reflect their business as closed during this time-period. Simply, don’t do it. Leave your business hours as they are and make sure to stay in front of your customers through social media posts, email newsletters, with banners on your website and other methods.
Your Google My Business listing is the driving force behind Google Maps listings and a big factor in helping your business rank in Google search results. Reporting your business as closed could have potential negative long-term effects. Don’t risk your business falling behind your competitors, once the world returns to normal.
Update your Google My Business description to keep your customers informed about how you’re operating
Rather than marking your business as “Temporarily Closed,” update your business’s Google My Business description to keep your customers informed about how you’re dealing with the COVID-19 situation, such as:
- We’re currently offering take-out, delivery and curbside pickup
- Currently accepting new client consultations and project planning via Skype, so we can book your remodel as soon as the stay-at-home order is lifted
- Our shop is closed, but we’re still selling through our online store – and offering FREE delivery on orders over $30
- The coffee shop is closed right now, but we’re selling gift cards at 25% off. Also, join our webinars and learn how to make the perfect cold brew coffee, French press coffee and iced lattes at home! Use our referral links and buy your coffee making starter kit on Amazon now!
With this strategy, you’re showing customers that you’re still “open for business,” even when you are unable to offer your full menu of goods and services.
If you need assistance selling your products or services online, we’re here to help – schedule a consultation.
Post to your Google My Business listing
Many SEO professionals would argue that posting to Google My Business has more search results value than posting to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or other social media platforms.
Google has even added a “COVID-19 update” post type in Google My Business. Use it if your post is directly discussing how your business is operating during the pandemic, otherwise, select the “Add Update” option. When customers are searching for your business on Google, these posts will appear directly in the search results alongside your business in the search results.
Google My Business is owned by Google and the content you post to their platform will also help your business directly when it comes to ranking in search results.
Offer video chat consultations and meetings
At this point, this suggestion is probably a no-brainier, but if you’re not offering meetings, consultations and project planning meetings via video chats – you’re falling behind. This technology has been widely available for many years in many forms. I’m shocked it has taken a viral pandemic for the masses to finally jump on board.
Sell your time and your services through video, just as you would if you were meeting in person. If you offer in-person consultations where you ask for the sale at the end, a video chat meeting should be no different for you. Sure, you may have to modify how the consultation is conducted a bit, but your potential clients will understand.
If you’re used to simply answering the phone and taking calls as they come in, considering adding a booking form right on your website where visitors can pick a time to schedule a video chat that works with both their schedule and yours. You can even have clients pre-pay when booking a meeting.
There are many video meeting providers that directly integrate with booking and meeting scheduling platforms. Most of these booking options integrate with your calendar software to only display time-slots to customer when you are actually available for a meeting. To see my favorite combo in action, schedule a meeting with me to discuss setting up your own video chat booking system for your business!
Add a banner to the top of your website telling visitors how you’re operating
Much like the recommendation to update your Google My Business description with details about how your business is currently functioning, do the same on your website – right at the top of every page.
Make sure your banner has a different background color than the prominent colors on your website so it stands out. If possible, add a little bit of movement to the banner, so it grabs the visitor’s attention. Lastly, make sure the visitor can close the banner if they want, so it doesn’t take up too much screen space on mobile devices.
There are lots of different options for this type of banner and we’re happy to help you pick the perfect one for your business and set it up for you.
Add a live chat option to your website
Make it as easy as possible for website visitors to get in touch with you. Live chat is hot right now and you can even nudge active website visitors to chat with you and/or you can add a chat bot to help guide your website visitor to chat with you, schedule meetings, help them find the products they’re looking for, leave you a review and more.
If you’re a big-time Facebook user, you can even use Facebook Messenger as your on-site live chat.
If you need help selecting the right live chat for your business, just shoot us a message.
Empathize with your customers and social media audience
Remember, nobody is hanging out in big groups. Make sure your marketing and social media messaging reflects reality. We’re all experiencing the same thing right now. It’s okay to admit it, accept it and share the unpleasant experience together.
Ask your past clients and customers for those great reviews!
If you’re finding yourself with more “in-office” time than usual, now is the perfect time to reach out to past customers to ask them to write a review for your business or give you a testimonial. Reviews are super-important for your business. Not only do they provide credibility about the quality of service and products you offer, reviews on Google My Business are also a ranking factor in Google search results. Our experience shows that businesses need at least five Google My Business reviews before they start seeing benefits in search results.
Even though Google may be slow to approve new reviews right now, you should still be asking customers to write them for you.
We’re currently working on launching our own business reviews management platform that will be released soon (schedule a meeting and we’ll give you early access for free, then a discount when we go live with the platform). Want to see how our review management platform works? Leave us a review about this blog post right now!
Launch a search engine optimization campaign. Now is the perfect time
SEO is easily the most effective long-term marketing strategy – and that’s why SEO is the core service offering at Search Centered Digital Marketing. If your company has the budget and the time to dedicate to future success, the time to invest in an SEO strategy is now. If you don’t you competition will.
“Search Engine Optimization” search trends in Google are on the rise, which makes it evident businesses are researching and currently adding or planning to add SEO services to their marketing efforts throughout 2020.
Schedule a meeting and let’s talk about our search engine optimization services. We create each strategy personally for each individual client, their industry and their business. We aren’t like many SEO companies, we don’t us a generic check-list. Together, with you, we create a personalized checklist and modify it when needed so your business outperforms your competitors.
All of us small business owners need to make some adjustments during difficult times. Remember, we’re all in this situation together. We’ll get through it and hopefully come out of it stronger together. Until then, make it easy for potential customers to know what’s going on with your business – and we’re here to offer help if you need it.