I’ve seen a lot of advice on how big brands and enterprise-level companies should pivot their marketing efforts during the COVID-19 crisis. But what about the little guys? Small and medium-sized businesses aren’t scouting via Zoom for their next big-budget TV commercial–they’re trying to stay afloat until the crisis is over, and flourish once it’s passed. Read on for some no-cost marketing strategies you can deploy to sustain awareness and keep customers informed about your business.
What can you do right now for free–or close to it?
Here are nine low- and no-cost marketing strategies small businesses with strapped budgets can implement while line items like payroll takes precedence over marketing expenditure. The cost of these items will vary depending on your resources, time, and skill set, but if you keep it simple, many of them can be managed without a mega agency or a huge budget.
1. Tighten up your brand.
Do you have a Brand Promise? Do you know your USP? Have you created Customer Personas for your target audience? Compiling your own Branding Blueprint will help center your business. Think of this as a base from which to jump off, and fly.
2. Develop a style guide.
This ensures that marketing efforts moving forward are under one umbrella and easy to communicate to your marketing partners. DIY design software platforms like Canva put polished design within reach of even the most aesthetically challenged.
3. Make sure your Google My Business listing is up-to-date.
Your Google My Business listing is how people find the most critical basic info about your business. Hours, phone number, address, etc. Keep it up-to-date, especially as you make updates and changes to your operations. Here’s an easy-to-follow how-to straight from the horse’s mouth.
4. Leverage your relationships with media reps to secure bonus schedules.
We’ve secured thousands of dollars in no-charge media by working with our vendors. They’re eager to see our clients succeed now so they’re still around to advertise after the crisis has passed. Work with your reps to see what’s possible. The worst they can do is say no!
5. Reach out to your existing client base through email.
Loyal customers want to hear from you, and email is one of the easiest ways to send them info. Programs like Mail Chimp, Constant Contact and SendinBlue are intuitive and make email marketing easy. Just make sure you mind your messaging.
6. Update your website.
Whether you’re looking at a design refresh, functionality upgrades, addition of eComm, or SEO optimization, now’s the time to get your virtual storefront in order. If you’ve got the time and an excess of patience, there are plenty of WYSIWYG platforms (WordPress, SquareSpace, Wix, etc.) and thousands of how-to tutorials out there. If you’re time-strapped and/or technologically challenged, it’s probably best to call an agency.
7. Update your social media presence.
Social media is the best place to talk to your audience right now. It’s fast, authentic, and free. Establish a presence on the platforms that make sense for your business, and use your style guide to make sure there’s cohesiveness across all platforms.
8. Create some content.
-Keeping your website current with content like blogs and videos can have a dramatic impact on how you rank on SERPs. Create a posting schedule and stick to it. Keep it short, honest, and informative.
-Writing not your strong suit? Work with an agency, or use a freelancer. LinkedIn, Scripted and upwork are good resources when searching for a writer-for-hire.
-Shooting video doesn’t have to be complicated. A short video shot on your smartphone is better than nothing. Platforms like iMovie or Filmora make video editing intuitive.
-Cross-post your content to all those social channels you just updated.
-Make sure you avoid messaging pitfalls. Check out our blog on effective messaging during a crisis.
8. Create a post-COVID marketing plan.
Eventually we will make the shift from emergency marketing to planning mode. If the country does dip into a recession, a solid marketing plan is super important. Start your plan now so you’re ahead of the curve, and ready to come back strong when things ramp up.