Marketing your business in challenging times

Last night I did an online Q&A session on marketing your business during COVID-19 for a group of local female business owners. Technology held up and it was a great opportunity to connect with and see others, even if it was just on screen!

Today I wanted to share some of the questions asked and tips on how you can continue to market your business.

What can I offer my customers now I can’t physically sell my product/ service?

The first question I was asked was ‘What can I offer my customers now I can’t physically sell my product/ service?’

By now you should have a clear insight of whether you can operate under alert level 4, but if in doubt, get in touch with MBIE. We’ve all seen the stories about businesses that were initially open and then had to close, and vice versa. It’s still a fluid situation, so be as responsive as possible.

Communicate with your customers what you can or can’t offer them right now; can you ship actual product, are there potential delays in shipping, can you offer gift vouchers, offer a rain-check instead of refund on purchased products or services that can’t be used currently? Your customers, like most of us, have all the time in the world at the moment to browse the internet and social media so don’t lose your ‘share of voice’ as they call it in marketing terms.

In addition to your traditional products or services, you might be able to offer something virtually – and even better if it is something you can offer for free. How about sharing your knowledge and experience for free? As business owner you’re the specialist when it comes to your offering – share it!

There are so many ways to do this; Social Media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram all have their own options to share written posts, images, videos or even live video. You could also use a video calling service like Zoom, Microsoft Teams or GoToMeeting and have instant 2-way traffic with your audience. Do your research to determine the best platform to share your message, and take the time to review your privacy and security settings before using it.

What should I post about?

The above should have given you some ideas of what you can post about on your social media channels. But there’s a lot more you can do.

Share what your lock down looks like and make it relevant to your target audience’s interest. It’s essential to be authentic and share the human side (as small owner-operators you’ll already be doing this, but for larger businesses this is the time to put aside the anonymity and make it personal). Depending on your brand’s style you can add a bit of cheek too.

Some examples from my client base; If you run a bicycle rental business, share the rides you’re going on close to home during lock down.

If you’re a builder, share how you finally have time to work on your own home – everyone knows that builders, joiners, painters, electricians etc are always busy working on someone else’s home and their own home comes last.

Should I email my customers?

If you have a database of email addresses it means people trust you enough to share private information with you. Use this trust to engage with them!

Again, be clear on what you can offer them. You can also answer some frequently asked questions – the questions that pop up regularly in conversation.

This is also your chance to encourage engagement – ask for it! Ask them to write a review about your business, or to forward your email to friends or family who might be interested in your offer. We’re in this together, and we’ll get through this together.

Need more help?

SMS HQ are here to help local businesses connect with their customers and we continue to do this even during the current lock down. Reach out for a free, no obligation chat about marketing your business, and find out how we can assist.

Phone Monique Wijnen on 021 908 505 or email

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