COVID-19 Coronavirus: How to Continue Running Your Business During the Outbreak
Unless you’re a toilet paper company, you might be experiencing some issues with marketing, low sales, client or customer concerns and overall just doing business as usual during this crazy world-wide outbreak of COVID-19. Countries across the globe are putting practices in place to help prevent the spread of the virus. The Government of Canada is firmly suggesting that events with more than 50 people to attend be cancelled, almost all of Italy, France & Spain have been “shut down” and places all over are putting people in quarantine. Canada recently announced that it’s shutting down its borders to most travellers with the exception of trade.
There has been information, facts, posts and infographics spreading across social media like wildfire. Although some of them are valid, there are also a lot of them that are doing nothing but sending people into a panic. So what does all this chaos have to do with you and your business? Well…lots. People are avoiding going out, they aren’t shopping for anything other than toilet paper, lysol and hand sanitizer, they are cancelling any type of meeting and so on. So you can see how these behaviours can be detrimental to any business.
So what should you do during a time like this? Follow these 10 great tips and your marketing and business won’t have to suffer.
Don’t Panic & Take A Deep Breath
Why is this our first point? Because panic doesn’t do any good. Is this virus scary? Yep. Is it taking a toll on businesses worldwide? Yep. Does this all mean your business will go under? Nope. Keep it cool as a sea-cucumber and everything will be fine.
The Government of Canada has announced a new COVID-19 Economic Response Plan on Wednesday, March 18th which includes additional tax credits, EI benefits, and new business loan programs in order to protect Canada’s economy to prevent the next “Great Depression”.
Consider doing something you normally wouldn’t. Step back, take deep breaths, consider doing some yoga and relax. We’ll get through this together. Our friends at Bodhi Surf + Yoga have been releasing new social media and website content relating to decompressing through proven yoga and breathing techniques.
Do More… Not Less. Continue Marketing No Matter What Industry You’re In
Shutting down your marketing strategy when times are slow is the exact opposite of what you should do. People will be spending more time online and on social media (because what else is there to do?) so make sure your business is there to be seen. When things blow over and you were one of the brands with a strong marketing strategy in place during the outbreak, you’ll have an even better chance of connecting with potential customers or clients. China, Italy, Spain and France is actually seeing a huge rise in online sales because there are so many places in quarantine. We’re starting to see this spike as well now in North America as new quarantine and self-isolation measures are rolling out.
If you haven’t ventured out into digital marketing or social media marketing yet, then maybe now is the time. Get your brand noticed while people are surfing the web more than ever.
Service based business or consultant? Easy… Change your meeting model into meeting with clients remotely using platforms like Zoom, Ring Central or Google Hangouts. This is most definitely going to become a new norm.
Restaurant or bar? Offer a delivery service. If you’re a client of Octopus Creative or Squiddly Web Services, please reach out to us immediately. We will consult with you on the best practices to market this service and take payment online as you may not have some of the options available in urban settings with a universal delivery/app based delivery service. We’re happy to help implement tech on your website so that you can market your restaurant delivery service at this time.
Physical retailer/brick & mortar? Time to get online. With lockdowns and mass quarantines happening in many cities, countries and regions, more people than ever are now online shopping. Amazon is reportedly trying to hire 100,000 new workers to cover the massive increase in online sales.
Work From Home And Use Web Conference Communication & Collaboration Tools
This may not be the best option for every single business, but it might be an option for you. Can you or your team do paperwork, make client phone calls or bookings all from home? Even if there are only a few people in your office that can do their jobs remotely, allow them too. It still lessens the body count in your place of work, which lowers any risks of spreading COVID-19. There might be potential for your whole team to go remote.
This goes for meetings too. For many businesses, meeting with potential clients is not an optional thing. You can’t seal the deal, or sell your product without meeting with that client first, so don’t cancel, move them to online. We live in a brilliantly digitalized era, where there are literally hundreds of platforms to hold a meeting on, without filling a room full of people. Companies like Google & Microsoft are even opening up free options for users to help businesses work efficiently and safely from home.
There are tons of great tools out there to use to work remotely. Some of our favourites are RingCentral, Google Drive & Slack. The best part? These ones are FREE! They are easy to use, you can chat, assign tasks, share folders, organize messages and more. These online programs can keep your whole team working safely and efficiently.
Sell Online, Increase Your Reach And Ad Spend
If you already offer a product or service that is sold primarily online, then you’re probably experiencing an increase in sales through this chaos, so keep it up! If you’re not already selling online and there is potential to do so, then consider setting your business up for online sales ASAP.
As mentioned before, this is where people will be as we all try to stop the spread of the virus. Maybe you’re a brand new business and struggling to get in front of your customers…use this global lockdown to your advantage and get your business online.
Consider increasing your online ad spend and email frequency. Your messaging won’t get lost amidst all the COVID-19 noise. Trust us, it won’t. This will keep you top of mind during a time when most companies have relaxed their marketing, that is the total opposite of what we recommend doing during a time like this.
Post Proper Handwashing Procedures
You’ll find these signs in the public washrooms of restaurants, but why not in your staff bathroom, kitchen or lunchroom as well? Use a simple poster that shows proper procedures and to add a fun spin, put a list of songs to sing while they scrub. (Seriously.)
Healthcare professionals say that you need to scrub for a minimum of 20 seconds to prevent spreading germs. This is equivalent to singing “Happy Birthday” twice. But no one wants to hear that, so try some of these great hand-washing songs and post them at work.
Opt For A New Handshake
Another recommended way to help stop the spread of the Coronavirus is to not shake hands. If the person you shake with didn’t follow the suggestion of rocking out to Beyonce last time he washed his hands, then you’re both at risk. Instead of a classic handshake opt for a foot tap, an elbow tap, a bow or a wave. While it might feel “odd” at first, we promise it feels better than spreading COVID-19.
Put Stronger Cleaning Practises In Place
Regardless of your business, you should be putting some added cleaning methods into play. Areas that are only disinfected maybe once every few days, should now be getting cleaned every day. Kitchens, staff rooms, offices, debit machines or cash registers, door handles, tables & chairs, should all be getting the “gold star treatment” when it comes to cleaning.
Communicate More Frequently
Don’t be afraid to discuss not only COVID-19 but also your practices in place to help prevent the spread. Talk to your employees and let them know they will be working from home, or you have a new hand washing policy in place. Communicate your plan with all your clients or customers. Send out emails to let them know all meetings are moved to the web until further notice, with a link to the platform, talk about your cleaning procedures and help put them at ease.
One of the best ways to communicate to your audience is with a good blog post like this one. Get a post on your website with information on the virus and what your business is doing to help prevent it. If blogging isn’t’ something you have the time for, then consider getting one written up by an agency.
We are pleased to say that our own crew here at Octopus is practising what we are preaching. Our whole team works remotely and we have moved all our meetings to web conference. Each change might seem small and insignificant, but if everyone makes these changes (most of which are temporary), we can all help defeat this virus and keep everyone safe.
So please, we ask you…remain calm, wash your hands and please stop buying all the toilet paper.