It’s now early June. The UK is still technically in lockdown though some restrictions have now eased. Throughout the month, more restrictions will gradually lift. We are still expecting a second wave; Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned that a second stricter lockdown could still happen. One thing is clear: normality is not “just around the corner”.
If you’re a small business owner, it’s important to keep talking to your audience. And by “talking”, I mean “conversation” not “selling”. This is your opportunity to put a human voice and face to your business. Not only will they be reminded that you are still there and ready to accept their custom when you can open, you could also attract new customers.
Your “War Chest” is Social Media
This is stating the obvious. As you no longer have a premises, or your brick and mortar premises is reduced to online service and orders, social media is now essentially your primary if not your only shop front. If your business is still operational, by all means use it to keep selling and generating interest, but you are going to have to offer people a little bit more. This is where social selling comes in.
Show Your Human Side
Here, you completely omit the sales process. In fact, you’re not going to try to sell at all. Post as though you were posting to a personal social media account.
We all crave that human connection. It’s something most of us have taken for granted, especially now when we are isolating from everyone except those we live with. No matter what type of business you run, if you have a loyal base of regular customers, they are going to miss direct offline interaction with you and your employees. Show your smiling face – give updates on progress and what you’ve been up to. Craving normality, it will serve as a reminder that you are still around and that there are people behind the business.
Give People Free Stuff
Money is tight. While people will want to spend on little luxuries, they are more conscious of not wasting their money on needless things. Sweeteners and free stuff will always work, but now it can be the difference between making a sale and not making a sale. If anything, this pandemic has shown how inventive small businesses can be in enticing custom. B2B services offer free taster webinars, website reviews, and strategy tips as downloads. I’ve used these free webinars to build and improve my social media presence.
A couple of items off the top of my head:
A local Indian restaurant named Daaku has been running free masterclasses in Indian cooking and simple tips to improve yours.
Dartmoor Zoo is running a “bring the zoo to you”. Although they are asking for charitable donations to keep them going, here you get to meet the zookeepers and hear talks about the animals in the zoo. Eden Project has done something similar with plants and their ecological work.
Some B2C services are offering free products where you only pay postage and packing costs, for example. Takeaways offer free sides with orders over a certain value, or a bottle of wine.
Free Draws for Social Media Sharing
On a similar note, I’ve seen plenty of businesses ask for their regular customer and followers help increasing their reach. Ask them to share to businesses who might benefit from their services (for B2B) or share online events to gain as many viewers as possible for a webinar, giveaway, or simply to increase traffic and relevant accounts.
A great way to do this is offer an incentive: a restaurant might offer a free meal for up to four people when they re-open, for example. An author might offer a free signed copy of a book or merchandise. Be inventive. People love free stuff, but they love winning stuff even more.
Engage With Your Customers
Engagement is not a one-way thing. When customers spend some of their time interacting with you, whether that’s signing up for your free webinars or just commenting on your social media posts “lovely to see you, hope you’re keeping well x” a response will stick in the mind. It’s a business cliche that “we’re like one big family”. You’ve probably used the cliche yourself, especially if you’re a small business. What do families do? They communicate. Treat your customers as friends, thank them for their time and ask how they are. This may seem a little too American for British taste, but right now it’s working.
Use Live Videos
2020 is the Age of Zoom. It’s also the year we all took to Facebook Live and Instagram Live – for good reason. It’s the social distancing version of having a chat with a group of friends, though the communication is video only one way. Video chatting would exhaust bandwidth and would be a nightmare to manage. What they do is allow you to respond to comments and questions as they come up, facilitating two-way real-time communication. Much more intimate than posting a video to YouTube or other social media and only eventually getting around to responding to videos.