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COVID-19 Marketing strategies for SMEs

BY: Andrews Ayiku

The current Covid-19 pandemic has changed the lives of consumers and businesses alike. Many small businesses are still feeling particularly vulnerable during this period, whether they are in a brick-and-mortar retailer that's temporarily closed their doors or an online business that's experiencing a spike they are not anticipating. The pandemic has completely turned around the global economy and disrupted how society lives, works, and communicates.

SMEs business owners need to understand that every period of economic downturn, comes the opportunity to evaluate, disrupt and emerge stronger as markets start to recover. I must admit that the COVID-19 pandemic is truly unprecedented and although we are unable to predict if and when it will end, it is vital to develop and design actions in how to continue to respond to it. It is important to consider the following steps in pivoting your current business model and strategy in the battle for survival whiles adopting an effective digital marketing strategy.

Adapting your marketing Plan for COVID-19: Consumer behavior and consumption patterns are greatly being impacted by the pandemic. Sales online have greatly increased and shoppers are making fewer, and product preferences are changing. How are businesses predicting demand and adapting their marketing to continue attracting customers? I will advise businesses as a matter of urgency to modify their offers to adapt to the new demand must therefore consider what customers want now and how they can respond to that change with speed. Businesses must survey their customers to understand how the crisis has affected their consumption patterns and spending plan. Marketing budgets must be specific and measurable especially during this period and there is the need for companies to measure their impact especially since there is less money available for marketing.

Staying connected: It is important to stay connected and constantly update your customers and clients no matter the type of business you are operating whether you run a hair salon, phone repair, barbering shops, cleaning or make-up artist, fruit juice production, etc. Your customers are ready and willing to hear from you. Consider updating your status regularly with relevant content, updating your websites, sending emails, and keeping the conversations on point and regularly with customers, friends, and prospects. Some key ways are developing testimonials and demonstrating short videos about the benefits of your products and services and creating a community for the customers.

Updating and investing in your website and social media platforms: The current period is important and a better time to evaluate your website from top to bottom. I will advise a business that can't afford a new website to review their current shop front and ensure that information posted are accurate and regularly updated. Business owners must evaluate what works and does not work and what needs improvement especially with their branding, tag lines, and their overall digital presence. SME business owners must consider developing a strategy for their Facebook, Instagram marketing strategy by focusing on their first impressions of their pages, partnering with other social influencers as well as growing their follower base. It is important to find followers that fit within your business target audience which will lead to generating new leads and driving sales. SME owners must search for Instagram profiles that post content related to your industry.

Getting Creative and Innovative: Small business owners need to be creative and innovative especially during the coronavirus age by taking risks and developing new marketing tactics. I will not advise businesses to fall back on their old marketing strategies since their customers have changed dramatically. Having a unique way to market your clothing line business or cleaning services can make your business stand out from the competition as well as attracting new customers. Startups in the bakery and fashion training industry can promote their offerings through virtual options for customers like online classes, showcases, and meetings. An entrepreneur in the food industry recently had a brainstorming session with his staff and board of advisors to think about how they can attract customers and convince them to spend more during these difficult periods.

Andrews Ayiku
Lecturer. University of Professional Studies
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