This year’s SXSW and Mobile World Congress, two of the largest networking events in the world, have been cancelled because of the spread of coronavirus. Major brands like Facebook, Adobe and IBM have announced that their annual conferences will be happening online instead of in-person. This situation is changing rapidly.
No one can predict what’s going to happen in the short or the long-term. But it’s likely that small, medium and large businesses are going to be affected by coronavirus in some way.
We’re not health experts and we can’t offer advice on whether you should close your office or cancel events. However, we believe that it’s important in business to be responsive and adapt to what’s happening around you. And we firmly believe that good marketing can help businesses handle uncertainty.
Here are a handful of things that business-owners can do to prepare for what’s ahead and, hopefully, minimise the impact of coronavirus on their business.
Embrace video conferencing and remote working
If your staff do have to self-isolate you’re going to want to keep things moving, even if you’re not in the office. So if your business hasn’t already embraced video conferencing and remote working, now is the time.
There are plenty of video conferencing platforms out there which can help with this. Some of the most common are Zoom, GoToMeeting, Skype and Google Hangouts.
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Some people are less comfortable with video calls than others, but video conferencing is better than audio, especially if you’re going to be using it for some time. Being able to see one another improves non-verbal communication, is a richer experience and people are less likely to get distracted by their phones or emails.
Also, if you don’t already have a remote working policy, you may want to create one. It doesn’t need to be exhaustive, but some guidelines explaining what’s expected may help staff keep up the workrate when they’re working from home.
Find and connect with customers online
A lot of our customers rely heavily on face-to-face meetings, events, trade shows and conferences to keep in touch with customers and meet new ones. This may get a bit tougher over the next few months.
But it’s very important to keep in touch and keep building customer relationships. Thankfully, modern technology has given us plenty of different channels we can use to connect with people.
If you decide to cancel an upcoming event or the organisers cancel an event you planned to attend, why not replace it with a webinar?
LinkedIn is another key communication channel. As the world’s largest (and best) B2B social network, if you can’t meet prospects in real-life, you can definitely find them on LinkedIn. If you’re going to be spending less time out and about, invest that time in finding, creating and sharing useful content, interacting with others and expanding your network. Sally Shuttleworth, our West Country Regional Director, has recently shared a few tactics that you might want to consider to increase your LinkedIn engagement.
"Take this opportunity to test out new approaches and see what works."
This may also be a good time to experiment with other means of lead generation, like PPC, Adwords or paid social ads. Take this opportunity to test out new approaches and see what works.
However, your priority should be your existing customers - ensure that you're doing everything that you can to maintain a healthy relationship with them - even if you can't meet them. So pick up the phone and check in to see if there's anything you can do to help.
You can find lots of helpful advice on Coronavirus in the workplace from our sister company People Puzzle here.
Protect your brand and your people
These are uncertain times and people are going to be looking for reassurance.
You may want to take the time to reassure your staff and your customers that your business will do everything it can to continue providing the same level of service that it always has. A level-headed, measured and practical response is the way to go.
Do some housekeeping
If things do slow down, you might find yourself with time to pick up those tasks that always get pushed to the bottom of your to-do list.
Why not take a look at your website, review the performance of your always-on email campaigns or finally put some proper time into your social media presence? Tim Parrack, our Regional Director for South East, has published some thoughts about how to make the most of any extra time you might find you have on your hands during this extraordinary period.
If you decide you are going to use this time to review and finetune aspects of your marketing or lead generation, The Marketing Centre may be able to help. We can offer an outsider’s perspective on your marketing’s strengths and weaknesses, along with services such as remote sales calling that can help you generate leads without leaving your home.
"Good marketing can make business more resilient."
As we mentioned earlier, we believe that good marketing can make business more resilient in the face of uncertainty. By looking after your relationships and continuing to provide value for customers, leaders can minimise the effects of external events on their business.
To learn more, download our guide, How Marketing Helps Businesses Weather Economic Uncertainty. If you’re looking for general coronavirus advice, such as your duties as an employer or how to look after employees, the FSB have plenty of great advice on their website.
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