The impact of Covid-19 on small businesses has been high and far reaching. With half of UK small business owners already pivoting their offering or planning to as a result of Covid-19, Charlotte Holmes-Darby of Vistaprint shares three key ways that UK SME owners can adapt during this time.
1. Boost your online presence
One of the few ways that you can stay connected with your customers during lockdown is through your online presence. While building a digital presence from scratch may seem overwhelming, the key is to start small and focus on relaying the most important information about your brand and offering. You can then update and finesse it over time.
Taking your website as an example, spend some time during lockdown to really focus on the one conversion that you want your visitors to accomplish. This will differ depending on your business and could include generating a lead, making a sale directly on your website or getting them to read a piece of content. Once you know what that key conversion goal is, craft a clear and concise message related to the action you want your customers to take and give it as much space as possible on the homepage.
You’ll also want to build an active and engaged community around your online presence by providing valuable content to customers via social media and email marketing. Think about your strongest area of expertise and what will add the most value to your customer base. It could be that you own a salon and can provide advice on how to maintain a beauty routine during lockdown, or that you’re a personal trainer that can share home workout tips. Remember to check in with your customers after sharing content so that you can refine your strategy over time.
Aside from stepping up your digital marketing efforts, you may also be able to deliver some of your services virtually. Whether you own a gym, a yoga studio, a beauty salon or an arts and crafts business, you can get virtual classes, consultations and digital events up and running on your website or a videoconferencing platform. Or, consider social platforms like IGTV and Facebook Live to stream live classes.
2. Refocus products & services
Many small businesses have adapted so they can continue serving their customers during lockdown. Within the food and drink industry, there are plenty of examples of local breweries offering contact-free can delivery services, while some restaurants are shifting to takeaway only or offering food and drink kits so their customers can recreate dinners out at home. Hair and beauty salons are offering do-it-yourself hair colouring or facial kits so that their customers can keep up their hair and skincare routine.
Small business owners can also develop new products and services to help people cope with the challenges brought on by Covid-19, whether that’s by lifting their spirits or providing helpful advice. An example could be HR or law firms offering free advice on the government support available to small businesses, or graphic designers sharing positive illustrations on social media to keep people spirits up.
No matter what your main offering is, it's vital to spend some time brainstorming ways that you can continue providing value to your customer base during this time. Not only will it ensure that you continue to engage with customers, but it'll also boost your brand image and increase exposure.
3. If you’re able to, give back
It’s inspiring to see so many small business owners giving back to their community, despite the challenges they’re facing. Any contribution you make, no matter how small, can make a real difference to people’s lives whilst helping to build a strong brand image around your SME.
A popular example from recent weeks include restaurants providing discounted meals to frontline workers. Other types of businesses may be able to shift their production to create essential products for the fight against Covid-19 in similar ways; whether you’re a fashion designer with the tools, supplies and know-how to make hospital uniforms, you own a brewery that could produce hand sanitiser, or even if you own a hotel close to a hospital and are able to offer up some of your rooms to NHS workers.
Adapting your offering in this way will also do wonders for building your brand, as it will be long remembered at a time when it’s more important than ever to stand with your community.
There are many ways to refocus your offering during this time, it's just about thinking creatively and considering exactly how you can add value to your customers, community or key workers during this time. By taking these steps, small businesses can set themselves up to emerge from the pandemic strongly positioned for success.
Moreover, while you should focus on products and services that provide an immediate boost to your business and value to your customers, also bear in mind how they could continue to form part of your business model as restrictions ease.
About the Author
Charlotte Holmes-Darby is the UK market lead for Vistaprint, the marketing partner to millions of small business owners around the world. They help small business owners create expertly designed, up-to-date custom marketing via an assortment of products.