In Oklahoma, and nationwide, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) is something none of us anticipated even just a month ago, yet small and large businesses in Oklahoma are ordered to close by Governor Stitt through April 14th. The uncertainty is by far one of the biggest fears for businesses: those that have thrived just a month ago, are now faced with critical decisions to help their businesses survive the pandemic.
According to Google, search trends for the coronavirus have “…increased by +260% globally.” Surges in online traffic have shifted, in the same sense for products and topics, as a direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Workplaces have shifted from standard workplace office environments, to working remotely. Social distancing has impacted small businesses, transcending to not just certain business sectors, but blanketing not only the state but the world. Business is not ‘as usual’, but outside a box we never imagined. Small businesses are forced to rethink the ways they do business, providing customers with safe solutions and still maintaining personal relationships.
While the near future and even long-term future remains unknown for businesses, we have found some great resources for our clients, but other small businesses that are having to make adjustments in these critical times.
Adjust your Strategy
Change can be stressful for anyone. Businesses that don’t always have the time to re-strategize can be hurt the most. We all put things on the back burner, saving planning and projects for a rainy day but in critical times of crisis, a backup plan can help you spin on a dime. Spin a business operation from one direction, to another way of operating and serving customers.
As a business owner, its important to stay on top of all aspects of marketing. If there are budgets that need adjusting for online campaigns, now is the time to take a fresh look. If you have non-essential ad campaigns, then readjust those to ones that would receive higher quality traffic.
Obviously, each business is unique, but service-based businesses are literally curbing the pandemic by utilizing the ‘curb’. Curbside service is trending from everything from Petsmart, to healthcare services, to restaurants. It’s a unique way to cater to customers (or patients), by going the extra mile to ensure everyone is safe.
The World Health Organization has online information about current scams not only targeting small businesses, but individuals. As well, online scams and security vulnerabilities can increase in the worst possible times. It’s always important to stay level-headed and think wisely by staying educated on the best ways to secure your business.
Develop, Implement, and Communicate about Workplace Flexibilities and Protections
The Occupational Health and Safety Act of 1970 at OSHA.gov has some great information about how COVID-19 affects workplaces, as well as steps that employers can take. With detailed information about the implementation of workplace controls, as well as the importance of communicating with employees, and the importance of being aware of workers’ concerns about pay, leave, safety and health during infectious disease outbreaks.
Improve Online Presence
In critical times, it’s important to get your message out quickly. Have your hours changed? If your website information is outdated, make extra efforts to update content so it is relevant to your business. With the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, small businesses should take this time to improve their online presence – FAST!
Update Your Website
Your business website should be the cornerstone of your online presence, reflecting contact information, hours, and services that you offer. It doesn’t have to be time-consuming, but even just a small amount of time to make changes can make a big impact in informing your customers.
Google Business can be important in informing customers, if you don’t have a Google Business account for your business yet – there is no reason to wait. Claiming your business, and updating important business information can help reach customers, through business hours, address information, photos and reviews which show across Google searches.
Google now has a special feature just for businesses to post information for COVID-19. If you have special hours, or changes that your customers need to know, this is a great feature to utilize.
Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, just to name a few, your customers can find out if you are still open during the pandemic, as well as informing them of any critical information as the pandemic goes on. Periodic updates are great to keep customers informed and reassured that your business is still operational.
The best thing we can do is stay calm and reassure our customers by having a clear plan and utilizing down time to re-plan. Don’t panic but push ahead and know that we can all get through this together!