For most of us, the Covid-19 pandemic has made sudden and unprecedented changes to the way we do business in only a matter of weeks. Many businesses are floundering because previous ways of doing business can’t work in the current market conditions. So, what can small businesses do to survive, and even thrive, in today’s uncertain markets?

As H.G. Wells famously said, “Adapt or perish, now as ever, is nature's inexorable imperative.”

Adapt or perish. That’s the stark reality millions of small businesses are facing right now. But with a situation that is evolving and changing so rapidly, how can businesses pivot quickly enough to keep up?

Here are some great ways you can adapt your marketing to better support your business during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Lead with Helping People

What does your business do that can help people navigate the uncertainty of this moment in the world? Adjust your messaging to tell people how you can help them, and be creative. Many people are looking for distractions and new ways to spend time at home during this crisis, so there is a lot of opportunity to help others and support your business at the same time. For example:

Chipotle Together

Chipotle is hosting free “Chipotle Together” virtual lunch meetings via Zoom. The events are hosted by celebrities and people can join the meeting and chat while they eat lunch. In addition to helping people feel connected in a time where most of us are under stay-at-home orders, this is a low-cost initiative for them which will likely lead to increased sales and tons of good publicity.

J. Rieger Hand Sanitizer

J. Rieger is a distillery in Kansas City, Missouri. When the pandemic hit, they pivoted and immediately began using their facilities to create hand sanitizer. In just a few weeks, they have produced thousands of gallons of hand sanitizer that they’ve sold in the community at-large and to healthcare workers, first responders and critical businesses. Not only does this change provide them with much-needed revenue, but it is helping the community and making them a household name in the area.

Planet Fitness Online Workouts

Planet Fitness has temporarily closed all of their locations due to the pandemic. Now, they are streaming daily live workout videos online featuring different celebrity instructors. This helps people stay active and engaged during the stay-at-home orders and keeps people connected to a fun workout at the same time.

You don’t have to be a giant corporation or invite celebrities to your brand to help people during this time, though. Just think about what your business has to offer and frame it in a way meets the needs people have during this unprecedented event.

Adapt Existing Content

Another option to quickly realign your business with current needs in the market is to repurpose existing projects or services to reach new audiences. For example, can you make video tutorials to demonstrate how people can DIY things they might normally hire a technician for? Or maybe you can move in-person workshops to online classes to comply with stay-at-home restrictions. There are lots of ways you can adapt current projects and offerings to support existing clients while also reaching new audiences and attracting new customers. A few ideas:

  • Compile old content into an ebook. You can give it away in exchange for newsletter signups or sell it via self-publishing platforms like Amazon and Kobo.
  • Turn an instructional workshop into a daily email series. This breaks up the content and gives people a sense of purpose and accountability.
  • Reach out to other companies and offer to create online content for them as an expert guest.
  • Start a podcast. You can recycle old content or do a simple interview-style format. Podcasts can help you reach a new audience and bring in new customers
  • Host a webinar or online meeting to encourage interaction and respond to customer inquiries in real time.
  • Turn helpful posts into infographics. There are a lot of free tools on the market to help create amazing infographics, and infographics are great vehicles for sharing and drawing a lot of attention to your business.

There are several ways to determine which content might be best-suited for repurposing for the best ROI.

  1. Listen to your customers. What are they asking for now? Are you getting emails about needing certain features or products? What are you seeing on social media? Your customers are talking. Listen to their needs and respond accordingly and you
  2. Identify your strengths. What is your business especially placed to deliver during this time? What services and information can you easily offer in this new business climate?
  3. Check your conversions. What evergreen content do you have? What services or ads bring the most visitors to your site? How can you give customers more of what they’re looking for?

People still need stuff. While much of the world is operating differently than before the pandemic, most things that people needed or wanted before it began are still in-demand. Businesses just have to find more creative ways of connecting with their audiences and getting their services or products in the hands of the people who need them.

Expand Your Marketing

When confronted with potential scarcity in the market, many businesses have a knee-jerk reaction to pull back on every expense they can think of. But now is NOT the time to skimp on marketing. In fact, now is a great time to ramp up marketing. Here’s why:

Other Businesses Are Scaling Back

Many businesses are closed or scaling back on services right now. That gives you an amazing opportunity to stand out among a smaller crowd of competitors. You can use this time to connect with customers for future services, and gain raving fans by giving people what they need now, even during this time of crisis.

Less Competition

There is less competition for marketing space right now, especially around many paid advertising opportunities, such as pay-per-click. This creates an opportunity for you to try ads in new places or experiment with different platforms, because ads will be more affordable. And with people spending more time on media than ever before, you’ll have the chance to reach more customers even though they’ll cost less per acquisition.

Important note on messaging during the pandemic:

While expanding your marketing during the Covid-19 crisis, it’s important to ensure that your message is aligned with what’s happening in the world. You don’t have to specifically mention what’s the pandemic, if it’s not relevant to the offering, but putting out marketing pieces that appear completely tone-deaf to the current situation can actually do more harm than good. For example, the ad below is for flexible office space. It uses a common phrase, but given the current circumstances, it feels off-putting, crass, and out-of-touch. Make sure that your marketing doesn’t accidentally turn customers away because your messages are misaligned with what’s happening in the world.

The world is at an unique and unprecedented point in modern history. That means businesses have to get creative in order to adapt to this new market. There’s no roadmap on how to navigate a pandemic as a business in the digital age. However, changing the status quo doesn’t have to be a bad thing. This is an opportunity to explore new avenues for your business and demonstrate your ability to serve customers in new and interesting ways, both online and offline. Adapting your business will be the key to surviving this crisis and marketing will be your biggest asset in getting your offerings directly to your customers.

Dmitrii Kustov is the Internet Marketing Director and Founder of Regex SEO, a Houston-based boutique digital marketing company that offers a comprehensive array of professional SEO campaigns and services. We utilize cutting-edge technology and industry best practices to produce the highest possible search engine rankings using a transparent, data-driven process. We offer a first-class customer experience that provides measurable results to help businesses achieve online success.