The COVID-19 virus has sent the world into a new digital era. In Australia, small businesses are looking at ways to pivot their products and services to deal with the lockdowns and restrictions in place.
While the time frames are uncertain, try to consider this as an opportunity to innovate and be creative with your business. Some of the best ideas are born out of necessity, and you should be aiming to capitalise on this situation, as best you can, while ensuring you have a viable business, well into the future.
For local Perth businesses, there are some unique opportunities to help your business not only survive the next few months, but also thrive on the other side of the crisis. Depending on your business and industry, there should be a way you can adapt your business to succeed during this crisis.
How Can You Help?
While you still have a business to run, this is also a crucial time to consider how you and your business, can help.
There have been some truly heart-warming stories coming out of this crisis, from landlords giving tenants rent breaks, health care workers being “adopted” by members of their community and distillers switching production from gin to hand sanitiser.
In times of crisis, we really see who is willing to step up and help out. These are the organisations people will remember for years to come. So have a think about how your business can help, big or small, in your community.
Get Your Website Ship-Shape
It almost goes without saying, but it is super important you get your website functioning to the best of its ability, to ensure you can capitalise on increased web enquiries and sales.
- Check your website speed – a slow site will hurt your rankings in search engines and increase people leaving your site (we are a very impatient lot these days).
- Mobile Friendly – there are a lot of people accessing their websites from mobile devices, so make sure your site performs across all devices (fast and good user experience).
- Online Stores – make sure there are no issues with your Shopping Cart/Check Out etc. always good to test this across different browsers and devices regular.
- Update Info – if you have new opening hours, delivery info etc make sure this is communicated across all your digital platforms.
Communicate, Network, Connect
By now you should have a COVID-19 communication strategy in place, which is being clearly communicated to all customers and staff.
Other things you can be doing to stay connected to your customers include:
- Digital channels – update your website and socials regularly
- Webinars – be it online learning, virtual walk throughs, forum discussions
- LinkedIn Videos / Facebook Live – connect with your customers (and let them see you) via short, to the point, videos.
- Video Conferencing – have virtual meetings with customers and staff via one of the many online platforms such as Skype or Zoom.
- Networking – sign up for virtual networking opportunities – BNI Perth are running all of their events online and #SMPerth are hosting their month networking drinks session via Zoom. Or why not organise your own?
With all of the above, try not to only focus on COVID-19 content. Produce communications and content that will benefit your digital marketing strategy long after this crisis is over.
Invest in Digital Marketing
The whole world is inside and online, so this is an excellent time to be ramping up your digital marketing. While you are adapting your business, make sure you are dedicating resources to maintain and grow your digital presence.
There is a tendancy to cut back on marketing spend, during recessions and other downturns. This cuts down on the noise and increases the effectiveness of marketing for the fewer players left, giving you a greater marketing share.
The businesses who are investing in their digital marketing strategies now, will be much better placed to bounce back once this crisis is over.
Tailor Your Marketing to the Crisis
In the last few weeks, we have seen some fantastic ways different industries and businesses are adapting and tailoring their marketing and service offerings to the COVOD-19 crisis. Each industry has their own unique challenges and opportunities, we have put together some industry specific ideas and examples below.
Cafes / Restaurants / Bars
Arguably one of the hardest hit industries – yet we are seeing some great innovations coming out of the hospitality industry. Local pubs are now offering home delivery of their menu within a 5km radius, and it is often delivered by your favourite bar and service staff, to help keep them employed.
Many local cafes have adapted to serving take away coffees via serving windows and there are loads of cheap ‘take-away’ style meals, which can be picked up or dropped off.
Many of the local bars who help quiz nights, are not offering the quiz online, to keep punters engaged and entertained.
There are also some really beautiful stories of restaurants and cafes offering free coffees for health care workers or discount meals for people in essential services (the ones keeping everything running for the rest of us).
Currently the Pan Pacific in Perth are trialling ‘Hotels with Heart’ with 20 homeless people being housed within their hotel, to help stop the spread of COVOD-19. Another great innovation which will hopefully be expanded.
There is a real opportunity for your business to not only survive, but help out those in need, during this crisis.
Home Renovations & Improvements
There are so many businesses that provide various home renovations and improvements. These businesses have traditionally provided in-home measure and quotes. This includes all types of industries such as curtains and blinds, security screens, fencing, pools, removalists, painting, interior decorating, renovations and more.
So how can they get around the home visits? Offering “virtual” quotes, via video conferencing is one option. Contractors can get measurements and visuals of the space, to provide their virtual quotes, with work to be completed while the homeowners are out or once the lockdowns are lifted.
Another option is offering online advice for homeowners. There are “ask an expert” forums (such as on Home One), where contractors can offer to answer questions and help promote their business.
Content marketing is also very useful, you can write articles on your expertise and help people understand the value of your business.
Or engage your customers via social media. You could ask customers to post pictures of their challenging space – eg bathroom or backyard and then you can offer tips on how to improve. Or get a chat started so they can pick your brain about ways to improve the space.
Training Providers & Educators
Training providers are adapting well to the new online arrangements, providing online webinars and training options. While face-to-face training is off limits, this is a good way to still provide services.
There is one online training provider who are offering a “Buy One – Give One’ option. Where you buy an online course and then gift one to a friend. Plenty of ways you can adapt to promote your online training options.
Travel, Weddings & Events
It’s all about 2021! So many events have been cancelled/postponed, which means there will be a lot happening in 2021! Now is the time to start promoting your venue or event services to capitalise on everyone looking to re-book. Wedding vendors should be ramping up their 2021 wedding packages, with many 2020 weddings now looking to reschedule (there will be a bottle neck as well, with 2021 weddings trying to fit in with the 2020 demand).
The travel industry has certainly been massively impacted, so they should be looking to market to this future crowd as well. Everyone is going to need a holiday following this isolation, so now is the time to start planting those seeds of inspiration. Start marketing your destination now, so people can start planning their “End of Iso trips” in late 2020 and 2021. People have a lot of time on their hands, so great excuse for them to start researching their next adventure.
Local Business / Suppliers
There is a massive push to “support local” with many websites popping up, to help people spend their money at home. One marketplace created in Perth is the Perth Online Market – with over 100 business now listed, this helping allow local businesses to connect with their customers.
This is similar to the @spendwiththem Instagram account, which was originally established to help local Australian businesses cope following the bushfires and has now been expanded to help following COVID-19.
Think about ways you can help and support local businesses – possibly with some cross overs in service offerings, to capitalise on this growing community movement.
Florists, Hampers, Gift Deliveries
Gift delivery providers have a real opportunity, now more than ever, to spread joy in the community. With social distancing limiting all celebrations, from Mother’s Day, birthdays, Baby Showers etc you can still show someone you care by having a special gift delivered.
Many florists have stated offering ’bunch of the day’ options as a quick way to send some flowers to loved ones. Or sending a living gift, such as a potted house plant is a great option to let someone know you care. Start thinking of ways to market your product offering to help spread the joy during isolation.
Care packages are also popping up as an option, with so many of our loved ones in isolation, putting together special care packages (maybe with fruit, or their favourite treats) to keep them going and lift their spirits.
Pay it forward gifts are also proving popular – for every gift you purchase, the company will put together a hamper and send to a local hospital or essential service business in your area. Great way to share the joy and pay it forward.
Gift Vouchers for Your Favourite Business
We know there are a lot of businesses who are struggling, from beauticians to car detailers.
One option these service businesses is offering is an open-ended gift voucher. So, while you can’t go get your nails done today, you can by a gift card (perhaps with a slight discount) which can be used down the track, once the crisis is over.
This lets people help their favourite businesses now, when they really need it and rewards their loyalty with a small discount.
Landscaping & Gardening
There has been a real surge in people wanting to grow their own veggie gardens and spruce up their backyards. This is in part due to the uncertain supply chain for food but also just a lot more time at home.
Great opportunity for landscape supply businesses to start marketing seeds, seedlings, mulch and fertiliser, to capitalise on the increased demand.
You can take this one step further and provide online tutorials, how-to videos for beginner gardeners or tailor them for kids learning to create their own gardens. All great ways to engage with your audience and supply a useful distraction for people at home.
This extends to anyone offering landscape supplies such as shovels, wheelbarrows etc – perhaps put together a gardener “starter pack” with everything from gardening gloves and utensils, to get started in the backyard.
Book Stores, Puzzle Providers, Board Games & More
One thing everyone is looking for, is home entertainment ideas. Anyone who sells anything from, books, puzzles boardgames etc needs to have an online store, with fast delivery and be marketing right now. This is a great time to provide some entertainment during this new turn of events.
Use this opportunity to market to your customers that you are still open for business / how they can access your services. There are many essential services including GPs, Emergency Dentists, Vets, Pharmacies etc however your opening hours or ways to provide services have probably changed.
Make sure you communicate any changes, such as virtual appointment, over the phone appointments available, to help manage the social distancing rules and so on.
Get Some Expert Advice
If you are struggling to manage your business during this unprecedent crisis, contact the team at White Chalk Road. We are currently helping many Perth businesses adapt to survive the crisis and can offer some tips and advice for your business now and well into the future.
Sarah has more than 15 years’ experience in media and marketing, having worked in both Perth and Asia in the search marketing, media intelligence and content marketing industries. She has worked with some of the most well-known brands in WA along with many of the largest state government departments. Sarah has a BA in Mass Communications from Murdoch University, focussed on Marketing & Public Relations. She is also a Google Ads and Google Analytics accredited professional.