How to Keep Doing Business During the COVID Shutdown

In my last article, I provided marketing tactics every business can use during the COVID-19 crisis.  It bears repeating that you should not turn off your marketing even if your business is temporarily closed.  Think of it like investing when stock prices are low and everyone else is selling.  This is when you will get steep discounts and you have an opportunity to gain a competitive advantage while your competitors are hibernating.

Now let’s switch gears and focus this article on changes you can make to keep your business operational through the social distancing and non-essential business shutdown.

4 Options to Keep Doing Business During the COVID Crisis

Some businesses are deemed essential so their processes may not need to change.  For example, grocery stores need to address social distancing in their stores, but their fundamental operations do not need to change too much.

However, most businesses are not essential, Main Street ROI included.  That means you need to adjust your processes to keep your business operational during this pandemic.  Below are 4 options that you should consider:

  • Move to Digital Delivery
  • Pivot to a Different Service
  • Focus on Products Instead of Services
  • Offer Gift Certificates for Future Sales

Let’s take a look at each option in more detail…

Move to Digital Delivery

If you provide a service that can be delivered digitally, then this is a great option for you.  The most prominent example of this in my house is now school for my two kids.  There was a rocky transitional period, but at this point school for my 1st-grade daughter and pre-school son is now provided digitally by teachers streaming videos from their own homes.

Consultants, therapists, and fitness trainers are some other examples of businesses that can fully move to digital delivery.  Sure, it’ll take some setup and a touch of creativity, but it’s possible to sell these services using video conferencing tools like Google Meet, Zoom, WebEx, and GoToWebinar.

In addition to live presentations, you can also pre-record classes and sell the video recording.

Not every business can fully transition to digital delivery, which brings us to option #2…

Pivot to a Different Service

If it’s not possible to move to digital delivery, then consider pivoting to a different service.  For example, litigation attorneys can’t go to court because courts are currently closed.  For many attorneys, court appearances are the bulk of their billable hours and there’s no option right now for remote courtroom video conferences.

That means a pivot is necessary.  Rather than focusing on cases that require court appearances, pivot to other cases or even a different service area.

Another example of a pivot is to provide a complimentary service from a partner.  Most recently I saw a physical therapist offering gym classes that were created by a partner.  Are there other businesses that you could partner with to provide digital services?

Alternatively, you may be able to focus more on products than services…

Focus on Products Instead of Services

If your business provides both products and services, then you may need to focus more on your products during the COVID crisis.  For example, massage spas and hair salons cannot provide services in-person or digitally, but they can still promote their products.

If you don’t already have an email list of prospects and customers, then now is your chance to finally get started with email marketing.  There are plenty of email marketing tools available like Infusionsoft (our email tool), MailChimp, GetResponse, Constant Contact, Aweber, Emma, and iContact.  Some tools even offer a free trial so you can get started for free.

Once you’ve created an account with an email marketing tool, the next step is to upload your prospects and customers that you want to follow up with.  Then, draft an email that explains how you’re not open for regular services, but you’re still providing products.  In your email, include a call to action that clearly explains how to purchase products and how you’ll deliver the products (mail or curbside pickup).

Lastly, if none of the options above will work for your business, then you can still promote future sales…

Offer Prepaid Services or “Gift Certificates” for Future Sales

The COVID-19 shutdown has hurt nearly every business, but most notably, restaurants.  Sure, restaurants can still deliver and offer curbside pickup, but there’s no substitute for the dining experience at certain restaurants.

Instead of changing to digital services, pivoting, or offering products, restaurants (and other businesses in a similar situation) can sell gift certificates for future sales.  For example, these businesses can add an announcement on their websites that explains the situation and offer a discounted gift certificate for a future meal when the pandemic is over.

If the average meal is typically $100 (appetizer, meal, dessert, and drinks), then you could offer a $100 gift certificate for only $50.  That gives customers a big incentive to buy now to lock in that huge discount.  It’s a win-win situation because your business gets the cash it desperately needs right now and your customer gets a discounted meal in a few months.

I hope at least one of these options will work for your business and, most importantly, I hope you’ll take action right away. Don’t wait until the media announces good news.  Now is your opportunity to push your business forward while your competitiion stalls or moves backward.

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