Get ready for the new norm. Life after COVID-19 is going to be different. How? Well, that remains to be seen—at least until there’s some semblance of stability in the world. There’s still uncertainty in the future for small businesses and their marketing efforts. Thankfully, there’s enough information to make a few educated guesses about how small businesses will thrive in a post-pandemic world.
As we (hopefully) trend toward the end of the pandemic, it’s time for small businesses to start thinking about reopening and reviving. Here’s a look at some post-COVID-19 marketing strategies to start planning for, as well as a few current norms likely to stick around or evolve after the pandemic.
Keep social media as a B2C sales tool
Many local small businesses have leaned heavily on social advertising and social selling while their brick and mortar storefronts have suffered. It’s been a crash-course in social marketing! That said, many small business owners have come through the situation with a much better grip on their social media presence and a newfound understanding of how to sell online. There’s no reason this should come to an end after the pandemic! Continue leveraging social selling tactics to keep your business relevant on platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
Post-pandemic, we’re likely to see social ad sales remain high and possibly grow even higher. People across every age demographic spent more time on social media during the lockdown portion of the pandemic. That’s a habit that’s showing strong signs of continuation, which means more opportunities for B2C social selling.
Explore cross-channel marketing
Local businesses had no choice but to turn to digital advertising almost exclusively during the pandemic. A return to brick and mortar operation means more traditional mediums become available once again. Expect a combination of digital and traditional marketing as we come out of the pandemic—synergistic, cross-platform advertising.
Direct mailers with coupon codes for ecommerce. Email newsletters driving in-store traffic on specific days. These types of simple synergies are revived with reopening, and they offer broad opportunity to reach your target audience through multiple channels. Cross-channel advertising is also poised to be effective during the economic recovery—digital advertising is inherently affordable and traditional mediums are keeping costs low while they strive to attract new business.
Advertise value-add services
Many brick and mortar businesses turned to digital advertising to help them improve sales through bolt-on services. Restaurants advertised curbside pickup on Facebook. Retail stores offered personal shopping and home delivery via email. These efforts focused not on selling products, but rather convenience. Post-pandemic, small businesses will continue to sell the solutions that helped them through their darkest times.
The question is, how will you market them? Rely on the same channels you used during the pandemic and supplement with natural opportunities. Drop a handout in a customer’s bag advertising delivery service after their in-store visit, for example. Continue to sell bolt-on, value-add services as new revenue streams to help foster a stronger recovery.
Build strong value propositions
The silver lining of the COVID-19 pandemic took the form of several built-in value propositions. You could market the convenience of home delivery or the sympathy of price reductions. Now that COVID-19 is fading from the spotlight, your value propositions need to shift as well. You can’t bank on “these uncertain times” or “the new normal” to sell products and services. But you also can’t go back to your generalized value propositions. Where does that leave you?
There are several places local small businesses can look for strong value propositions. Leverage benefits like being locally-owned and -operated, for example. Take an artisanal or farm-to-table approach to marketing your products. Extol the virtues of working with a small business for personalized service. Don’t just sell your products and services—sell your business! The key to recovery after COVID-19 is distinguishing yourself from other businesses like yours—big box chains and small competitors alike. People can buy your products anywhere—why should they come to you, specifically?
Invest in or expand ecommerce solution
Many retailers were pushed online and opened up ecommerce stores during the height of the pandemic. And while it helped make ends meet, most businesses only saw it as a stopgap until they could open their doors again. Abandon this mentality and embrace ecommerce as something that’s not only here to stay, but here to help you grow!
Through ecommerce, your local small business could have a national approach, shipping products to customers in cities and states far beyond your local geographic area. eCommerce might help you keep your costs lower or stock inventory smarter. Think of it like a second storefront and a second opportunity to sell your products to a broader range of people. Mix in SEO and PPC and you’re really poised to take your business beyond recovery, to the next level of success.
Maximize the efficiency of content marketing
Content advertising has been a big help to businesses weathering the pandemic. Their blog posts, social media posts, email newsletters and other content helped them stay relevant with local customers and keep their name in the conversation. Used effectively, content might’ve even helped them sell or solicit support. This is another trend that’s going to carry over beyond the pandemic, and one small business need to capitalize on.
Don’t stop blogging just because your doors are open. Instead, start optimizing your blogs for local search relevance. Don’t cut down on your social posts—ramp them up with better hashtags and scheduling optimization. Invest in graphics, video and other types of engaging content to strengthen your brand image online. It all leads back to your real-world success as people begin to see a strong, confident, worthwhile brand emerging from the pandemic to thrive.
Bounce back, better than ever
Even if the number of coronavirus cases drops to zero tomorrow, small businesses still face an uphill battle. They need to reopen and reestablish themselves in a time of uncertainty and trepidation. They need to market effectively and efficiently. Above all, they need to be strategic in how they appeal to local customers.
Times have changed and so have marketing tactics. Explore the above strategies as you reopen your business and seek new forms of success in our post-pandemic world. Most importantly, recognize what’s worked for your business during COVID-19 and continue to capitalize on it moving forward.