21 Mar 10 Ways To Combat The Impact Of COVID-19 On Your Business
Use This Time To Put Distance Between Your Competitors Or Start Your Own Business!
For many businesses, this time has presented many challenges. Perhaps you’re an employee who was sent to work from home or worse yet, just sent home. Perhaps you’re a manager or business owner who is worried about the future of your job or your company’s survival.
Whatever your situation, remember one thing: just like every other recession, catastrophe, natural disaster or pandemic, there will come a day when it runs its course and we are once again moving forward.
My question to you is this: will you be ready for business and, more importantly, will you be easily found by potential customers looking for you?
When I take on a new client, one of the first things we do is a digital audit. It never ceases to amaze me that some of the most basic tasks have not been done as it relates to a company’s digital presence and marketing. Google Business accounts never claimed, lost logins to facebook, outdated websites, a complete lack of social media accounts, no plan to generate online reviews, and the list goes on and on.
Often, these clients wonder why their competitors are so far ahead of them in search results and show up all over the place. Well, having the basics done is always a step in the right direction.
Do The Basics You Have Been Putting Off!
If you are stressed and nervous about the future and not sure what to do next, let’s take a breather and try to make this down time as productive as possible.
Use this time home to reconnect with family, get organized, maybe relax a little, but most importantly use this time to do all those digital marketing things you have put off and neglected.
Today, I am going over 10 simple steps you can do for your digital presence right now to prepare for the recovery. We are going to touch on some of the basic things you should have done, have been putting off, or just didn’t think were important.
If you find yourself in the position of not having a job to go back to and are thinking about going out on your own, then this article is perfect for you too. It can act as a guide of where to start when crafting your digital presence and what to focus on first.
Don’t Waste Your Time On Wix or Squarespace!
This list assumes you have a website. If you don’t, now is the time to find the right person to build one for you. You could build your own, but honestly, today, if you’re serious, you need something more than a canned site (possibly garbage) from Squarespace or Wix.
If a professional website is out of reach, spend time learning about WordPress or Webflow and figure out how to build your own. At the very least, you could start writing your website outline and content.
Organize Your Social Media
First on the list is social media. This is a no-brainer, and the most obvious thing in the world, in fact. I think a business could survive without a website easier than a business can survive without social media accounts.
“No painter needs to be on Twitter…”
Now, you don’t need to be all over the place; you only have to pick two or three platforms, depending on your industry. If you are in a service-based business (such as a roofer, plumber, painter, HVAC) then you only need to be in three places: you need your Google Business account, your Facebook page, and a Houzz account. That’s it. Of course, if you have the time and want to put in the effort, you can add more accounts. But really, no painter needs to be on Twitter, consider perhaps expanding to Instagram.
Having basic social media is such a necessity, and this has been highlighted by the current crisis. If you want to get a message out to your clients or potential customers or even just want to share information about your business….everyone is on Facebook right now.
Everyone is on Instagram these days. These are the basics and you must have these accounts. While you’re sitting there at home with this down time, claim your social media accounts. Take the time to set up a good profile picture. Think of good names. Pick a good font that you love.
Try to lay out these accounts perfectly, upload good pictures, and watch some YouTube videos on what size cover photos are needed for Facebook. Now is a great time to tighten up your social media accounts. Remember, everyone else is home right now too….and they’re all scrolling through social media.
Claim Your Business Listings
Honestly, nothing makes me roll my eyes more as a digital marketer then when I see clients who don’t claim their business listings. I just cannot believe this. You must have a Yelp account and a Google Business account.
After that, you should have your business in all of the free online directories such as the Yellow Pages, Four Square, the White Pages. I realize that setting up these accounts can be time-consuming and a bit of pain in the neck. But, again, if you’re sitting at home right now, then this is what you should be doing.
If you have employees that you sent home to work remotely, you could put them on these tasks. They are so vital to your business these days when it comes to ranking your site. My advice to you is not to pay for any premium business listing accounts any of these companies offer. It’s completely unnecessary. Simply sign up for all the free accounts that you can.
The most important thing (and we’ve talked about this before) is having the exact, identical information across all your platforms. IDENTICAL! If you say Street on Yelp and Lane on the White Pages, you can confuse a search engine. If you use Suite 102 on one and Ste. # 102 on the other, that’s again confusing.
There are over 300 business listings accounts out there that you could claim. Even more, one thing you can do after you set up the top five is actually use a Business Listing Building Company. These are called citations, where you have your business listed around the internet.
You can pay a legitimate company to build the citations for you. For $30 to $60 you can have one of these companies build 25 or 50 citations. That is totally money well spent, in my opinion. But again, if you’re just sitting home trying to make heads or tails of the situation, you can spend the time to do it yourself.
We have had good success with Citation Builder Pro, for less than $50 you can get almost 50 professional citations! Check the out here: Citation Builder Pro
Make A Few Videos
Today, more than ever, videos are an absolute requirement for any business – small, medium or large. Everyone always overlooks the power of YouTube as a search engine, but not only are videos good for search engine optimization, they’re great to put a face to your business.
They also create assets for you to share across social media and, once you get the hang of it, it’s easy to convey company information or information about your business across multiple platforms. I’ll give you a couple of tips. First of all, don’t stress about too many video ‘gadgets’ before you get started.
The main components to video success are a microphone and a tripod, both of which you can get very inexpensively on Amazon. If you don’t know what to talk about in these videos, think it through ahead of time. In fact, think through and outline a few of them before you even begin (perhaps while you’re waiting for your tripod and microphone to be delivered).
It’s Never Been Easier To Do Video!
You want to talk about your business, but more importantly, what your business can do for other people. Remember, you’re not selling yourself, you’re selling people on what you can do for them and the problems that you can fix. You don’t need to be a YouTube star, but you want to upload 10 to 15 videos about your business.
Remember, Facebook and YouTube are two separate platforms and you need to upload the same video to both of those channels. You never want to share a video from YouTube to Facebook. An easy way to create a few videos is to do a video about each of your services.
Videos Help Showcase Your Staff & Services
These videos don’t need to be long, two minutes or less is perfect. It puts a face with the name. People like to see who they’re about to do business with. They want to know who’s coming to the house to do an estimate. They want to get a feel for what type of company you are. Video all these things extremely well, and there isn’t a cheaper source for media marketing out there right now.
If you really want to up the game, you can definitely hire a video company to make your assets look a little more professional, but you don’t want things that look over produced. If they get too fancy and high-tech, you can come off as being either arrogant or perhaps costing too much money.
In my business, for many of my clients, I will use my cell phone to shoot some footage and then send it to a video company to do the final touches and editing. This is a great way to save money and still have a professional product.
If your in the Savannah / Hilton Head, I recommend Harden Creative for their great video production services.
Write Some Blogs
You’ve heard me talk about blogs and articles before a hundred times, but if you have time on your hands and you aren’t sure what you should be doing, and you’ve always said to yourself, “One day I’m going to write a blog” or “One day I’m going to start a blog” or “One day I’m going to write some articles.”
Well, today is your day! I bet you might be sitting home wishing you had something to share on social media that made you look intelligent. Well, if you had a couple of articles under your belt on your website you would have that. Blogging for your business is easy.
If You’re A Roofer, Check Out Five Easy Blog Topics For Your Business Here: Blogging Advice For Roofers
Always start with the basics. Just like with the videos, start with the services that you offer, the things that you do, and the problems that you solve. They don’t have to be super long and involved, but eight hundred to a thousand words is a great length to start with. Throw in a couple pictures, and before you know it you’ll have 10 or 15 articles.
Of course, the main benefit to blogging is that Google and Bing (the search engines) want to see deep, relevant content on your website. Blogging can be one of the main reasons your website will show up in front of a competitor. Today is the day!
Set Up Your Linkedin Account
We touched on social media but I’m putting LinkedIn and its own category. LinkedIn has become much more important over the last few years since it was purchased by Microsoft and they’re putting more money behind it.
Not only is it a great place for business to business connections, but it’s now a platform that’s being indexed by the search engines. As a result, when you post information and content on LinkedIn it can now show up in search results. It is also an additional platform that you can use to build links from one place on the internet back to your website.
More and more people are using LinkedIn to check out not just potential employees but they’re also going there to check out potential companies or contractors they want to hire to do jobs.
When people want to hire painters, plumbers, surveying companies, seal manufacturers, and other corporations they’re going to LinkedIn pages and checking out their options. There’s no time like the present to set up a professional, well laid-out LinkedIn account.
LinkedIn makes it super simple; you just need to get a good headshot, fill out all the basic information and you’ll be on your way.
Revamp Your Website
One of the biggest stumbling blocks I see for clients when I take over their optimization or digital marketing is an old, clunky, outdated web site or a website that is unorganized.
If you’ve had a website for a number of years and you just keep throwing pages up and writing articles and putting pictures on and adding a page for every product and it’s starting to look disorganized, this could be a great time to organize.
Get Rid Of Old Content & Pictures Of Staff Long Gone!
Move some pages around, get rid of old content or old pictures. If you have pictures of employees who are no longer there, things that you don’t do or sell any more, get rid of them. Cleaning up your website is great housekeeping. It’s also a good time to make sure that you have Google Analytics and Bing Webmaster tools installed on your website.
Do all the little checks and balances so that your website can be not only a sales tool but a source of information about your business. Remember, your website not only tells about you, but it can also tell you about your competitors when you go on the backend and look at the data from Google Analytics.
It’s very insightful to see what people are looking for and searching for and how you show up in relation to those searches. Doing a mild revamp of your website is also a great way to freshen it up and be able to show off your current situation and the things that you do while also giving you something to share on social media.
Now Is The Time To Make Your Website Mobile friendly If It’s Not!
If you haven’t touched your website in three or four or five years, this is a great time to go in there to make sure that all your fonts are consistent and that your color scheme is the same across all your pages.
Maybe your website isn’t mobile friendly. Perhaps you might have to hire someone to help you with some more heavy lifting, but now is a great time to take stock of the situation.
Work On Your Photo Gallery
You Have A Photo Gallery, Right?
With your website up to speed, one of the next great things you can do to it (after writing some articles and blogs) is to work on your pictures. People always want to see what you’re up to, what you do, what you sell, and your past projects.
If you’ve been too busy to post pictures of old jobs and put them on your website, now is the time. Besides the benefit of search engine optimization, having images on your website is a good practice to develop new clients.
Whether you are a roofer, a painter, a home builder, a remodeler, or a cabinet refinisher you want to show off all the amazing work that you do. I can tell you for a fact that when potential clients look for you, they’re looking at your photo gallery.
Even after you give someone an estimate, they’re going back to your website to check you. After they are done with your website, they’re probably going to Facebook and Linkedin, too. So, just like we spoke about above, be sure you have pictures uploaded there also.
Pictures Are More Important Than Ever!
Start Your Email List
You know how you’ve been meaning to collect all your email addresses in one place so you can send out a newsletter? I have an idea for you; spend some time going through QuickBooks and Facebook and emails. Go through your contact forms and all the places where people email you.
Gather up the emails and start creating a centralized email list for your business. It’s a great time to set up MailChimp. MailChimp is free for the first two thousand email addresses that you put in and it makes it very simple to send out communications to clients.
Email Lists Can Be Used For Effective Facebook Marketing
You should be emailing your clients on a consistent basis. Email lists are great not just for newsletters, but you can also use them to create custom audiences and advertise to those people on Facebook and other social media accounts.
Imagine how powerful it can be to do a Facebook ad just to your past clients. All these little tools you can use on social media work exponentially better when you have an email address.
When you think about digital marketing in the year 2020, an email address is just as valuable today as it was 10 or 15 years ago.
Another overlooked area can be building your reviews. Developing a system to collect reviews from past clients is vital to show up in search engines, but also to show future clients that you do a good job and that you’re a great company to work with.
You want to be collecting reviews on Facebook on Yelp, of course. Google Bing for business, perhaps on Houzz. There are other places, but the key is to be collecting as many great reviews and testimonials as possible.
You should have a page on your website that makes it super easy for people to leave you a review.
If someone doesn’t have a Facebook or Google account, you still want to get a review from them. If they don’t have any digital accounts in the world, you still want to have some place on your website where someone can leave you a written testimonial. And then you want to be able to display those great reviews.
You can take these written testimonies and craft them to look nice and make them into a Facebook post. You can use them as images in your Google business account.
Just because someone didn’t leave you a review on Google, doesn’t mean you can’t actually show it in a Google post on your Google business account. All things being equal, a website with more reviews will always outrank a website with less reviews. That alone should motivate you to work on this during any downtime.
Perhaps you’re sitting here right now and all of these things are already completed. Perhaps you’re sitting here and you’re financially sound and you can wait out this storm that we’re in. But we all know that there are a lot of people out there that are going to have a super difficult time over the next few weeks and months until things get ‘up and running’ again.
Maybe they could use your experience and your advice. Is there a business owner, or acquaintance, or friend, or family member, or employee who could use a kind word from you? Some advice? Some help?
Maybe you can roll up your sleeves and lend a helping hand in someone else’s business. If you’re sitting here completely solid right now, there are other people out there who aren’t.
Mentoring someone can be extremely rewarding for both parties. Maybe you’re at the end of a career and you find yourself a little bored. Maybe you’re actually a young entrepreneur and you’re killing it in the world and you could help bring someone else along with you.
Helping other people grow their business and make money truly helps everyone. There are tons of organizations out there that you can get in contact with to mentor new business owners, mentor people out of trouble, or just offer your experience and advice.
All Of This Turmoil Will End Sooner Than You Think…Will You Be Ready For The Next Boom?
Now, I know every business owner or employee in the world is not sitting at home twiddling their thumbs right now. There are many many people out there who are slammed with work. Perhaps the work you’re doing right now is not really making you money, but you’re obligated to do it.
Perhaps you’re taking care of your current clients or finishing up projects. If that’s you, I hope you can find some time to relax while everyone else is binge watching TV. But if that doesn’t describe you, and you’re sitting here freaking out and your business is perhaps already in jeopardy and you don’t know how you’re going to move the needle or you don’t know how you’re going to grow your business….as I said in the beginning, remember, there will be an end to this.
There’s going to be a huge, pent-up demand for so many businesses, specifically when it comes to home and business remodeling and fixtures. People are going to be sitting in their house, looking around at their scuffed paint, their old flooring, shabby carpets, outdated cabinets thinking: we need to remodel this place! Or maybe: I want new curtains, I wish I had better Wi-Fi, I wish I had a better TV, my roof leaks! The list can go on and on.
When we all get through this, and people are ready to pull a trigger and spend money, they’ll go to the computer or their phone to look for someone or something.
My question is: are they going to find you and your website? Spend some time now to make sure that they do!