10 Digital Marketing ideas for small business & sole traders.

We currently find ourselves in a very unique situation, whether that is on a personal level or on a business level.  The world is facing a very serious challenge with the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), but there is always hope, and you should try and stay as positive as you can.

Many businesses, large and small, have been greatly impacted already as the economy has taken a major hit because of COVID-19. Particularly affected are the small businesses, sole traders and the self-employed.  Food shops and pharmacies, have been left with empty shelves, other shops forced to close and restaurants and cafes are now shut too.

As a business owner, sole trader of self-employed freelancer, you’re likely looking for ways to survive this situation that has everyone shifting their budgets and prioritising on what to spend.  

Stay Positive – It will Get Better!

Like many people you are probably keeping a close eye on the constant news updates about the coronavirus, and like almost everyone, you are likely wondering how long before this go back to normal.  One thing is certain, this situation will not last forever, maybe a month, maybe a few months, do what you can now to make sure your business, however big or small can survive and it will be able to continue.

Many experts are on the news channels or social media giving us the latest updates and there are many experts who are stating that “…its going to get worse before it gets better..

It is easy to focus on the negative, but the end of these quotes/phrase is what all business people, self-employed should hang onto….it is going to get better!

Need proof? Look no further than where the coronavirus started.

A news article in the Guardian newspaper, China to lift travel restrictions in Hubei after months of coronavirus lockdown.

The coronavirus outbreak has largely been contained across China with lockdowns lifted and employees returning to work. China reported only 20 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday. That’s a huge contrast to February when China reported thousands of new COVID-19 infections a day.

Italy suffered directly from China, due to many Chinese nationals working in the country and that put Italy at the epicentre for Europe and has been hit hard by the virus, however there has been positive news coming out from Italy over the last few days with the number of new cases being lower on a daily basis.  The UK is about 2 weeks behind Italy in the spread of the virus. If the trend holds, the UK should also see a dramatic decrease in positive COVID-19 tests sometime around mid to late April.

So the hope is that this current situation should only be a relatively small (but very annoying) interruption for your business.  When a level of normality does return and the news gradually gets more positive, you will, (like many others) want to hit the ground running and not be in a race with your competitors to regain any potential lost customers and income.

At a time when much of the UK economy has come to a standstill, business owners, sole traders and the self-employed need to keep pushing forward with the reality that they will need to be positioned for a strong second half of 2020.

It is absolutely essential that small business and sole traders, cut costs where they can in order to survive, but the message here is do not cut too deep and too quickly.

The government has announced a series of measures already and I am certain they will provide some clarity and support for those self-employed, and whilst you might not be able to carry out your day to day job or trade, you will be able to ensure your business, whatever it is can continue in name through continuing with some elements of advertising and marketing

History Shows If You Cut Less During Down Times You’ll Gain More in Better Times

Historically, businesses that have chosen or are able to apply the more progressive idea of either refocusing spending or highlighting areas to target during a recession have outperformed businesses that had to make or chose to make  sweeping cuts, according to studies that analysed recent recessions outlined in a blog post Thursday by CXL.com.

Harvard Business Review study of 4,700 public companies analysed three years before, during and after recessions. The study identified the percentage of companies that outperformed their rivals: 21 percent for businesses that opted for a prevention focus (more cost-cutting) and 37 percent for a more progressive focus. The study found that “firms that cut costs faster and deeper than rivals don’t necessarily flourish. They have the lowest profitability (21 percent) of pulling ahead of the competition when times get better.”

Furthermore, a Bain report found that getting it right during the lean years has a huge impact on a company’s growth rate after the economy improves.

10 Digital Marketing Ideas to Consider During the Coronavirus

  1. Connect with your customers and future customers on social media

Everyone is dealing with the impact the coronavirus outbreak in one way or another. Whether you’ve tested positive or not, whether you are self-isolating because of symptoms, whether your income has been severely affected. We’re all taking precautions. We are effectively working through a lock down scenario, having to stay in our homes and our children are not able to go to school. We can’t visit our friends or relatives and we can’t eat at our favourite restaurants or go out to the cinemas.

This is a time to really show empathy to others and help out where you can. This is a time we all need to be sensitive — and not too salesy or pushy — but it’s a great opportunity for your brand to stand out during a difficult time. More people are on social media now while stuck at home, scanning for updates and trying to stay connected in a suddenly isolated nation.

Also, use your business to contribute to area food banks or assist the elderly with their grocery shopping. And promote your good deeds with social media marketing to help build your brand during this time..

2. Make Sure Your Business Can Be Found Online

With more people at home there are more people are online right now than in their cars or at work or in a cafe. Search traffic has increased significantly over the past week and will continue to climb as we all hunker down not only in the UK but globally.  Many of us will be glued to our computers and phones looking for updates within our community.  People are also looking for entertainment and ways to pass the time for themselves and their families. For some, that will include shopping online.

Anything online right now will be consumed more than ever before. This is not the time to be hidden online. You should be using search engine optimisation (SEO) strategies to climb higher up on Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs) so your business can be easily found. This is not a time for a business to go into a shell and poke out your head every few days to see if the sun has come out

3. Google Ads (PPC – pay per click) advertising is a good idea right now

Naturally with more people at home in front of their screens, it’s a great opportunity for businesses to use Google ads and PPC to connect with their customers and potentially gain a competitive advantage.

It will be more expensive right?  Nope – quite the opposite actually.  It is actually a great chance to save some money within your digital marketing budget. On average, cost-per-clicks have decreased by 6 percent across all verticals since last week according to some digital outlets and cost per click (CPC) is likely to continue to decrease in the coming weeks, reducing the amount of money an advertiser pays a publisher for every ad click. That gives your business another opportunity to scoop up that lost market share from others who might be pulling back during this time.

4. Stay Ahead or Jump In Front of Your Competition

SEO is  a process that helps your business increase organic traffic to your website and move past your competition. Everyone wants to be on the front page of the Google SERPs — and at the top of the list — so that when your customers search for certain keywords you’re the company they end up calling. To climb to the top of the SERPs takes time and strategic optimization strategies. If you don’t continue to optimize your website and content daily, you lose valuable ground in the search results and your freefall could cost your business thousands of dollars in lost revenue.

What you don’t want to do is halt an SEO campaign. That can be a critical mistake for your business. Your leads and revenue will suffer. But if others choose to pull back on SEO, it’s also a perfect time for your business to push even harder to surpass your competitors.

5. Prepare Your Business For the Bounce-Back Surge

As we noted earlier, the coronavirus outbreak should fade (just as it has in China) after a few months. When normality returns and business and consumers’ spending habits stabilize. You have to remember that SEO is more of a long-term strategy. What you do today for your SEO campaign will affect your organic search traffic two months from now. Pausing your SEO campaign now could have a detrimental impact on your revenue potential two months from now when the coronavirus starts to become a distant memory.

6. Unique Circumstances Provide Opportunities for a Special Offer

During this uncertain time period, you have the opportunity to show support for your customer base by offering special discounts that will keep your revenue flowing. Identify your product-market fit and create a special offer. Many people are at home browsing, looking for discounts to save money during a time of unrest. It’s a great way to engage with your customers and keep a steady stream of revenue that will keep your doors open. You can push out your special offers through pay-per-click (PPC) advertising and social media.

We have created some specific digital marketing packages for small business, sole traders and the self employed to cater for all budgets.

7. Local SEO is now More Relevant than ever.

We have all reduced our travel and are staying close to home due to government advice that is in place. In the rare times when we do leave our house, we’re looking for nearby destinations for services and supplies. So you want to make sure your business is using local SEO strategies to optimize your website for “near me” searches. You want customers in your geo region to be able to easily find you online so they turn to you first. At a time when we’re all looking for more convenience, this gives your business a chance to provide assistance during a critical time for families.

Our local pack SEO is an ideal solution for all those businesses who want to reinforce their local and community position of who they are, where they are, what they do and why choose them.

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8. Be prepared to adapt as a business and keep your customers informed

The current circumstances we all find ourselves in, caused by coronavirus, is naturally a fluid situation, your business should also be fluid. This is a time that you should find ways to connect with your customers like never before. It shows empathy and keeps you relevant at a time when your business may have been impacted by people staying at home. For instance, restaurants are shutting down right now because customers aren’t dining in. You should make sure you’re offering free delivery services. Lots of local restaurants and local produce centres are now offering delivery Also, let your customers know you’ve increased your sanitary practices and how you’re doing that specifically.

But other businesses can adapt right now, too, as we stay in. Gyms have closed their doors in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, but why not offer online workout classes right now? Dentists could offer online consultations. Trades people could offer online quotes from customers planning work through sending pictures or videos. All of these opportunities can be boosted with strategic social media campaigns.

9. Don’t Fall Victim to the Panic Move

How much toilet paper or food do you have at your house right now? If your answer is my cupboards are full, you’re likely one of the people who flocked to the shops when the coronavirus hysteria started to accelerate last week. That’s not how you want to react if you want to implement a smart digital marketing strategy for for small business. You never want to make a panicked move if you can avoid it. You will always want to use metrics, where available, and analyse all of the potential data you have available before making a decision.

Knee-jerk reactions usually don’t end well in digital marketing. Take caution when quickly reacting to a sudden shift in the economy or market.

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10. Use this Down Time to Finish Your Digital To-Do Lists

Now that you’re not commuting to the office or taking in-person meetings, your schedule has likely freed up some time for you. Those marketing items that may have fallen through the cracks and been overlooked can now be addressed.

Perhaps your website needs a fresh look with a redesign. Now is the time to get those websites updated or built. You can overhaul your website in two months all while working remotely.

This is also a great time to have a conversation rate optimisation specialist perform a CRO audit of your website to ensure your call-to-actions (CTAs) are turning leads into customers.

Also, it’s an ideal time to do an SEO audit of your website to ensure you’re maximizing your optimization strategies.

If you have any questions about how Blue Space Media can help your business during this time please contact us online or call Kevin on 07502 353905

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