Original article posted on TC Creatives: Branding & Design Studio.
Every day we hear more and more news about COVID-19, the latest few strands of the highly infectious Coronavirus. Coronavirus cases have been growing exponentially throughout the world. With the latest rapid increase in cases in the United States, there have begun to be new orders put in place that directly affect business owners because of health risks.
The Coronavirus has prompted new mandates, including shelter-in-place in large states such as California, New York, and Washington. The ever-expanding restrictions have caused uncertainty for business owners and entrepreneurs. Business owners have been forced to close their doors, and those who are capable, forced to work from home.
Though these new regulations can cause a decrease in revenue, prompt downsizing, and stifle growth, there are a few ways that business owners and entrepreneurs can use this new system to their advantage to grow their brand and streamline their business.
BUILD BRAND TRUST
Have you ever seen an ad for a product that may be perfect for you, and yet you hesitate to buy it? You may have doubts about the company’s reputation, the quality of the product, or even if you’ll get it at all. Your ability to trust a brand relies entirely on the information provided to you between your first encounter with the brand and the time you reach checkout.
As a business owner, there are a few ways you can build brand trust while sales are down.
Get Social Proof
During this time of economic uncertainty, customers are going to be more hesitant about spending money. The more content they see about the effectiveness of your products and services can help to ease any doubts the customers have. With an uptick in services like Tik-Tok and Instagram Live, it is evident that your customers have more “free time.”
Reach out to your past customers for reviews, results, photos and video content of them using your products. Offering incentives like a drawing entry for a gift card or product discount can help to build social proof while also creating a content database for your brand.
Foster Your Community
Are you team Apple or Android? Brands like Samsung, Starbucks, and Apple can have high profit margins because they have a community around their brands. People are excited about being elite members or part of a group. Set some time each day to interact with your current and potential customers. Commenting on photos, replying to questions, offering Q&A sessions, sending out DM’s, creating challenges of people using your products, or doing Live sessions help to not only build relationships with your customers but also prompt them to interact with each other.
Position Your Brand As An Authority On Your Industry
Have you ever bought something because a doctor recommended it? Tried a specific trend because a fashion stylist said so? You take recommendations because you trust that the source is knowledgable in the matter at hand.
As the helm of your business, your domain authority matters. Use this time to build value-based content for your business. Explains the benefits of the ingredients you may use. Show the lasting effects of the services that you offer: highlight case studies or real-world scenarios about how your offerings work.
Deliver your value-based content to your community via blogs, vlogs, social carousels, and email to help build your brand’s domain authority.
Build Brand Awareness
How many times have you decided to check out a brand because you keep seeing it on your newsfeed? On average, it takes 7 interactions with a brand for a potential customer to trust it.
If you are running any ads during this time, consider changing your ad goals to brand awareness and reach. The more people see, comment, and interact on your ads, the more likely they are to make purchases. Additionally, directing your past and current customers to your ads so that they can leave reviews about the products they used can exponentially grow trust in your brand.
BECOME A WELL OILED MACHINE
We all know that businesses with the best systems survive. However, far too often, we are too busy to fix and streamline our business processes. We’re either handling sales and marketing or doing research and development. As a result, we deprioritize administrative tasks.
While you are working from home, there are a few ways to strengthen your business processes to become more sustainable while things are slow.
Audit Your Business
Have you heard of new software that you want to try? Been thinking about creating that Quickbooks account? Spend some time looking at your current business processes and see where the most issues lie. Are you using five services for something that you can use one for? Could you use templates for things like proposals and invoices instead of emails? Can your onboarding process be automated?
Look at where most of your active time in your workday goes. Note your company’s subscriptions. Uncover the repetitive tasks in your business. Create a list, then find ways to optimize them.
Google your business. Ensure all of your business listings have correct hours, contact information, and offerings. Update any bios that do not reflect your current business model.
Evaluate Your Current Data
Sometimes, as entrepreneurs, we “fly by the seams.” We do things that work and stop things that don’t work without a clear understanding as to why. Understanding your business’s data strengthens your ability to forecast, strategize, and pivot to grow your brand.
Review your analytics on tools like Google Analytics, Search Console, in addition to whatever service providers you use for your e-commerce store and CRM. Make a note of the pages your website viewers are interacting on the most. Consider the demographics of your site traffic. See what content is causing people to stop communicating with your business.
Use your discovery to create a plan of action for your business.
Rebrand If Necessary
Are half of the links on your website broken? Have you realized the brand name you’ve been using for the last ten months belongs to someone else? There’s no better time to rebrand than when sales and traffic are down.
Downtime helps to alleviate the stress of making changes while you have high volumes of customer interactions. Using this time to recreate any necessary brand assets can help smooth your brand’s transition.
DO AS MUCH RESEARCH AS POSSIBLE
Have you ever created a product that you wouldn’t use because you thought it would be profitable? Is your business in an industry that is different from your background? The more you know about your industry and your customers, the better.
Here are a few areas that you should research thoroughly and periodically for your business.
An industry is a collection of businesses that sell similar products or services. For example, we specifically work with companies in the fashion, beauty, and service industries. Having a clear understanding of your brand’s industry can help you to identify opportunities to explore.
To effectively do industry research, identity the key players in your industry. What are the highest revenue-generating brands? What do they offer? Services like Crunchbase can help with finding realtime data from brands and direct competitors.
Understand whether your industry is growing or shrinking. Take special care to note the trends throughout brands. How are they positioning themselves? Where are these brands marketing the most?
Market research consists of the demographics, behaviors, and an overall number of potential customers your brand may have. While you may already know your target audience, use your market research findings to determine ways to create brand extensions, or sub-brands, for untapped areas of your market.
As you conduct market research, create customer segments. These segments can be used to develop targeting marketing strategies and highlight the benefits of your products in services to those who find the most valuable.
Lastly, conduct product research for your brand. Whether you sell products or services, this lockdown creates a unique opportunity to find new products and optimize old ones.
To determine opportunities to create new products, use forum websites like Reddit and Quora to see what people are looking for in your industry. You can also utilize hashtags on Instagram and Twitter to see what people are saying about the type of products you offer. Competitor ads are a goldmine for finding ways to improve on or recreate products that are already on the market, with customer insights.
The supply chain may be broken for your brand, and you aren’t able to do any new development. However, spending some time researching your key ingredients and tools, making price comparisons, or even finding local manufacturers and suppliers can help to strengthen your brand and increase your profit margins.
Tools such as ThomasNet.com can be a great help if most of your suppliers are international, and you are looking to bring your products home. This database is the Alibaba of America, offering expansive lists of suppliers and manufacturers across the country.
There is no denying that the Coronavirus has created a lot of fear and uncertainty for business owners. It can be very tempting to learn new a new skill or even throw your entire business away — however, times like this offer a glimmer of hope. You are forced to slow down a bit, and manage your business rather than keep up with it.
Spending some time optimizing your business and brand for the future will pay dividends in the long run. If you need expert assistance, we’re here to help. Schedule your free consultation today.
Bonus: With interest rates dropping and many businesses facing uncertainty, now is also a great time to get capital to invest in your business. Lenders are starting to offer more funding for small businesses. You can get a business loan to assist your brand during this time without any cash out of pocket.
Additionally, most agencies can conduct most work digitally and are still taking on projects during this time. Reach out to qualified agencies that work in your industry to give your brand the upper hand when business picks back up.