All of the businesses I work with are local businesses with physical locations or businesses that are working with local clients. That means with our country’s current status of states sheltering in place, downtowns shutting down and businesses in the service industry involuntarily closing until we see what COVID-19 is going to do, figuring out how to adapt is paramount.
So let’s talk about practical ways you could move your local business online and still bring in revenue.
Optimize your website for traffic
Most businesses I work with have some kind of online presence, but they’re using it as a place holder, and not necessarily a way to make money.
If you do not have a website for your business yet, some easy options that you can easily build yourself are Squarespace and Wix. They are great platforms for starter sites and you can have a new website up and running in a two hours or less.
WordPress is my favorite option for hosting websites but there is a learning curve on how to get started. With its new Gutenburg builder release, it has a drag and drop option now too which makes it MUCH easier, plus it’s more robust on how to integrates with everything in the world.
If you already have a website, focus on these things:
- Focus on gathering reviews from existing clients for social proof.
- Optimize your Google My Business profile to capture local traffic.
- Make sure your services and products are listed and available for purchase.
Set up online payments/processing
If you have a business where your client/customers traditionally pay you at the time of service or in-person through cash or check, now is the time to migrate them to online payments. Not only will this set your business up to be cash positive when COVID-19 settles down, but it’s easier to manage than chasing payments.
If you have physical or digital products to sell, set up an e-commerce part of your site and a payment processor using Stripe, Square or Paypal, for example.
Start having online consultations/bookings
Local businesses thrive on face to face interaction, so even as an online business serving local businesses, I’ve found it hard to break local business owners from wanting to only meet in person. Not anymore.
Everything has moved online in the world and people are starting to get comfortable with connecting on a computer instead of just face to face.
Zoom is my favorite platform to use for web-conferencing and 1:1 calls. For so many types of businesses right now they are offering it for free or at a reduced cost to get started.
This can be used for any service-based business when you need to have a consultation with a client before you can even begin working with them. It can be used for health and medical fields, for photographers, coaches, consultants, teams, and more.
A dance studio owner client has taken all of her classes online with Zoom so that students are logging in from their homes to take the classes with her, instead of losing all the revenue from her students while her physical studio is closed.
A photographer client has moved all her initial photography consultations that are usually in her studio to Zoom so that she can talk to them about their personal branding and headshots and plan for them once the social distancing lessens.
Presell things right now that can be offered or delivered at a later date
There is a lot of opportunities to keep your business moving forward by bundling together services, products, and events to be fulfilled at a later date this summer/fall when things settle down.
Look at what you offer and how you can start to presell it instead and offer a bonus as a reason for people to jump in now, instead of waiting for a later date.
For example, a massage therapist could presell a bundle of massages and throw in a bonus.
A coach could presell a workshop, course or event and add in 1:1 strategy, additional resources or a collaboration with another coach that complements what they do.
A health coach could presell a group program with bonus of recipes, an eating plan, or workouts from home with body weights, etc.
A home decorator could presell room makeovers with a bonus of a resource guide, or custom picked paint swatches or a strategy session.
Set up online scheduling
Online scheduling is great for scheduling appointments, classes, workshops, and managing pick up dates/times if you have people coming to your storefront to pick up items and want to be able to keep them social distancing.
My favorite tool is Acuity for online scheduling. It can also take payments, block off your personal calendar, send reminders and texts.
Use your email list to nurture your people.
Local businesses often use emails infrequently or to promote a sale. Now is the time to use it to build relationships and keep your client based connected to you, even if your physical location is shut down.
Use emails to:
– Tell them about what you’re doing in this current environment
– Tell them what your business looks like when the world is shut down
– Tell them about what things you’re working on when everything starts back up again
– Give them ways to support you from their homes
– Share what you sell! Show pics of your products. Tell the stories of your clients. Ask for their opinion on things. Show them how to share the love of your business on social media. Ask them to submit photos of them doing something while quarantined that might relate to your business.
– Keep them updated on what’s happening locally.
– Showcase other local businesses that are open in some capacity.
Emails are going to be the lifeblood of how businesses stay in contact with their tribes moving forward.
Have a social media presence.
Even if you’re favorite platform is currently collecting dust, it’s OK to start posting. In fact, everyone is glued to their phones watching the curve of the COVID-19 infections, so there is a greater opportunity than ever to stay in front of them.
Those things we just talked about for emails? Use them for social posts as well. Mission accomplished!
Collaborate with others.
Teamwork makes the dreamwork — even from a distance. While the world goes on lockdown and people are afraid to be around others, figure out how to foster community and collaboration around your business. Who can you team up with to go live, feature, create a special offer or event with?
How can you create something new that your audience or community needs in this weird vacuum?
I saw today a post that showed that Airbnb, Square, Pinterest, Uber and so many other HUGE brands were birthed during the last recession in 2008-2010.
While it can be a time wrought with panic and fear (and for good reason) there are still good things that rise from the ashes if we have the courage to find them.
From now until the end of April, I am offering free mini website audits to help you get the most out of your website during these crazy times. Fill out the form below or click here to request one for your business.
About Marketing Magic:
The Marketing Magic podcast is where women entrepreneurs trying to do all the things come to get inspiration, business strategy, and on-air coaching on how to get their business noticed and growing. If you have a business that people need to know about in order for it to grow, you’re in the right place. This is the place to uncomplicate your marketing. Be sure to listen, subscribe, and leave a review! Join the conversation of other unapologetically successful women in her Facebook community, The #girlboss Club.