You can’t have escaped the news about Coronavirus. If you have, you’re lucky! Whilst there is a lot of information out there, not much of it is helpful to small business owners like us.
The big news today is that we’re a couple of weeks behind Italy. We’re also being asked to self isolate if we have a cough. Potentially we could be on lockdown in the next couple of weeks, it made us think about how we could manage our business without making too many losses.
We’ve come up with a list of solutions which we think will help small businesses to carry on working.
Meetings are the lifeblood of most businesses, we all love a good meeting don’t we? But that means a number of people in a confined space and with a virus that spreads via close contact, they’re going to be a bit of a no-no!
So what else can you do? The obvious choice is picking up the phone! But sometimes a voice-only call is not enough. This is where things like Skype or Facetime come in handy. They allow you to video call and see the person you’re talking too.
If you’re looking for something a bit extra, then what about Zoom?
With the paid-for membership, you’re able to record the audio and video – which could come in super handy if you need to remember what was said!
Another big part of our business is training. We have several clients who we work with to provide them with some sort of training. Be that social media or web. Again, this is face to face and so could be a bit of an issue!
This again is where something like Zoom comes to the rescue or Zoho Meeting which we’re looking at trialling.
These have video capability, but also allow people to share their screens and as such could easily be something you can use to facilitate your training sessions or workshops. Or, pre-record your video tutorial and place on something like YouTube or Vimeo – Vimeo can be locked down and password protected for content that is only to be shared with customers.
The bonus of this is that even after the COVID-19 threat is done and dusted, you can still use as another income stream. We like that!
We often have to support our web and social clients. They drop into the office to come and explain the issue that they have. How on earth do we replace that?
Loom is a great piece of free software which allows you to quickly record your screen. This means you can create a small video which shows what you’re doing to see the problem that you need help with.
Large companies use this sort of tech all the time to support clients. We’re making use of it because not only can people send us their recordings, we can easily create content to share with our followers on how to do things.
Another option is TeamViewer which allows you to dial into a client’s computer and ‘take it over’ or, you can just share your screen with them. We often use TeamViewer to help set up emails or debug a problem.
Again another thing we can make use of when life goes back to normal!
We’ve talked about Asana before, but this is still our favourite piece of software. We’ve been using it a couple of years now and it’s revolutionised our business.
There is so much functionality, we’ve hardly scratched the surface!
This coupled with the other suggestions above gives us the capability to manage everything we currently do.
We love shopping and we have a fair few clients who run bricks and mortar shops. These are the people who are going to be the most affected in terms of small businesses if we have to all isolate.
For some of our clients, they operate an e-commerce store too which will leave them in a good position to be able to still fulfil orders. However, what we don’t know is what will happen with courier services.
Webshops do take some time to set up, but there are other options such as eBay or Etsy, which may be quicker depending on your type of business.
One last thought
There are a lot of suggestions here which would enhance a business under any circumstances so are worth a look. They can open up new income streams and opportunities for a lot of us.
If we do need to isolate, then we’d suggest that everyone makes use of the online communities that we’re in. Business groups on Facebook will go some way to getting some human contact!
And finally, as one wise woman once said:
“A meeting without cake should be an email!”
And that dear friends is why we’ve got a picture of cupcakes on this blog!
We know, that was a bit dramatic! But it’s that time of year when all the experts are out in force telling you about what you should be doing in 2020 to make your marketing the best thing ever.
Sometimes that message includes things like ‘Facebook is dead’, ‘Emails are dead’ and of course the perennial ‘Websites are dead!’. We’re sure you know the sorts of things we mean.
Well, the good news is that none of it is dead, it’s all very much alive and kicking!
Social media and the web are still massively important to your marketing strategy and here’s why… It’s all about YOUR business and YOUR ideal client!
Let’s get a bit more specific about each of these ‘dead’ marketing streams.
Facebook is now 16 years old and is still the biggest social media platform. Even after the problems they’ve had with Cambridge Analytica etc., they appeared to have reached a peak, but there is no change of things stopping completely. There is even talk of Facebook taking on the dating market, but that is a conversation for another day.
There are over 44 million Facebook users in the UK alone and 2.4 billion active users monthly. It’s also the third most visited website in the world, after Google and Youtube. That is a LOT of potential clients, isn’t it? So how come people are suggesting that Facebook is dead?
It’s most likely down to the fact that businesses have noticed a drop in engagement.
Back in around 2015, Facebook changed the way the news feed was constructed. Too many people were seeing too many sales posts and not enough about the actual people they were friends with. Things had to change.
Sadly for business owners, this means that their posts are now less likely to be seen. There are lots of figures thrown around in terms of how much visibility you’ll get. But a good rule of thumb is about 5 to 10% of your followers will actually see your post in their news feed, if you’re posting as a business. It can make for depressing reading, but it’s not all bad!
As with anything to do with marketing, you need to know your ideal client. You need to know where they hang out and what they love to hear about. Yes, it’s harder to get your stuff seen, but if you really put some thought into it, Facebook is still a viable platform.
Groups are a great start. It allows you to get a crack team of supporters in one place, where they’re going to easily be able to see what you’re about. But by far the biggest thing in terms of engagement is around showing some of ‘you’ in the posts you create and being engaging.
Yes, this means you have to reply to people! When they comment on your post or tag you make sure you reply. By doing this, people will see more of you, get to know you better and hopefully buy your stuff!
Facebook is not dead, especially if you know how to get the most out of it.
If we both had £1 for every time it was mentioned that websites were dead, we’d be off on a fancy adventure. But we don’t, so you get to keep us!
Worldwide, there are over 1.7 billion websites, or at least that was the case in mid-2019. Admittedly, there is a downward trend for new websites, but the existing ones are not going anywhere. Perhaps this is the reason for all these messages of doom?
As with Facebook, it’s all about knowing your target market and audience. People still go to the internet to check you out. So if they encounter you first on Facebook or another social platform, they’re going to go and check you out elsewhere. That is most likely going to be a search on your business name, which hopefully directs them to your fabulous website!
Think about if you’re a business who does not have a shop front, where are people going to go? Depending on what your product is, then they’re likely going to go online to find you. That means either a website or a dedicated selling platform such as Etsy, Amazon etc.
Sorry to disappoint the naysayers, but they’re all websites!
Think also about the number of physical stores which are closing on the high street. Yep, you’ve guessed it, their trade is going from bricks and mortar stores to e-commerce platforms, ie websites!
You don’t need to be super flashy or spend a lot of money to get an online presence. But you do need to make sure that you’re doing the right thing for your business and your clients. Having a well built, well-performing website; even if it’s just one page, is going to get you more business. We’re sure of it (we’ve written about this before here)
We’ve saved the best until last, no really! Email marketing, it’s a love-hate thing, isn’t it?
As small business owners, it’s likely you’ve had some thoughts about this since the GDPR was brought in here in the UK. Perhaps you lost a few subscribers? Well, even with this all, we believe that email marketing is still something you can think about in your marketing mix. It just depends on how you use it.
Let’s get this a little perspective on this. Time for the BIG numbers! We send over 102 trillion emails every year. That is a massive number, so much so we’re not entirely sure how many noughts should be at the end of it (answers on a postcard please)
Do you know what? That number is rising.
The average person will get around 15 commercial emails per day, that’s over 400 a month! These are emails encouraging us to buy, spend, save, entertain and countless other things. There’s definitely an opportunity here!
Think about last year, when both Facebook and Instagram went down. Do you remember the upset that it caused? A lot of businesses had some negative impact because of this, however, if they’d been using email marketing, then the show would definitely still be on. Even with a longer outage.
These days you can get really quite sophisticated tools, such as Mailchimp, Sendinblue and numerous others. These will allow you to segment your audience, create beautiful emails, but also send the right marketing messages to the right people, ie the people most likely to buy your stuff. That is really powerful stuff.
If you make your emails relevant, highly personal and send them just at the right frequency for your target market, then targeted mailing potentially gives you a massive return on investment.
So, as you can see, none of these marketing platforms are dead or even dying. Used in combination, they can be a really powerful set of tools to drive your business forward. For us, it always boils down to what is right for your target market and ideal client.
If you’re not sure about your ideal client, want help with your website or any aspect of your digital marketing, then use the form to get in touch. We’d love to hear from you. We are also offering training workshops on all aspects of Digital Marketing, Websites and SEO.
If you’re interested in what we’re doing in terms of training, then take a look here