By Jessica Alex
Make no bones about it: COVID-19 has completely changed the way we do business and the way we market our business.
With in-store shopping taking a hit this year, and 160,000 businesses in Canada expected to close down permanently due to the pandemic, many businesses have been looking for ways to stay creative in order to keep afloat.
As a service-based business with predominantly in-person services, my business slowed down back in March of this year, during our first lockdown here in Ontario, Canada. Not only were my brand shoots brought to a halt, but also solopreneurs who were interested in my content marketing strategy packages were now rethinking how and where they would spend their funds.
Much worse was the fact that this was all happening right around when I launched Boss Up Your Brand, and I could feel the buzz and excitement around my new packages and services. But now, with the pandemic, I had to restrategize. An online course I had been thinking about offering for a while was now back on the able, but until I could launch this eCourse or the pandemic subsided, I had to think of ways to retool and keep my audience engaged.
In Toronto and the surrounding areas, we are currently in lockdown mode again, without any true timeline of when this pandemic will be over. So, it’s time to (if you haven’t already) make adjustments to your business and marketing strategies to keep going.
Here are three ways to market your business in the COVID-19 era:
Stay Active and Engaged Online
During the 3.5 months of lockdown, I have continued to stay very active on Instagram. Not only did I continue to engage with other businesses and brands, but I also hosted regular “Lives,” where I interviewed various guests (guests who strategically aligned with my target audience). I also held contests/giveaways, featured other female entrepreneurs on my page and continued to provide free educational pieces to help my audience with their own marketing initiatives.
Continue to use this time to stay connected with your target audience online. Host Lives, post videos and other interactive posts. And don’t forget to engage with other accounts as well, which is an important piece when it comes to growing your brand online.
Test Out Ideas
Nobody truly has all the answers — now or ever. I’ve tested out a program launch, a “Hot Topics Live” Instagram show and various other ideas to see what works and what doesn’t. Marketing is about experimentation!
Do you have an idea for a boot camp or a “MasterClass”? Try testing it out with a beta group.
And from the wise words of entrepreneurs who have hosted many of these types of programs: “Go all in, be committed and show lots of enthusiasm.”
I also went from offering complimentary consultations to testing out virtual Instagram coaching with brands that I awarded with free coaching just for participating in an online challenge I posted in my Instagram Stories.
Adapt to the Times
If there are any parts of your business that are in-person services that can be adjusted to virtual, try it out.
The latest adjustments I have made are offering virtual photo shoot planning sessions, which are great for DIYers or for lockdown season, and content bundles, which are affordable and completely virtual. I didn’t have to reinvent the wheel, I just tweaked what I was already offering.
Another way to adapt is to add items that are currently in demand (if it is already in line with your business). For instance, fashion brands have added fashionable face masks to their list of items available for purchase.
If you are a product-based business that primarily serves your clients in-person, make the switch to e-commerce — or put more focus on the e-commerce store you already have.
So, there you have it: three ways you can market your business during COVID-19. We may not be able to reach our clients in person right now — like we used to — but thanks to online technology and our own innovative thinking as entrepreneurs, we have tremendous opportunities to help us come out of this pandemic stronger than before.