Times right now are uncertain.
Your customers shouldn’t be.
With the continued spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) people’s routines and habits are turning upside down. Businesses are closing, workers are being directed to work from home and people are being asked to leave their homes as little as possible in an effort to flatten the curve and slow the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19). Where people are choosing to visit, shop or grab a meal out and what online services they use are being based on an entirely new set of factors.
People are now making decisions based on uncertainty, fear, and guesswork. You need to take the time to reassure your customers and employees by letting them know how you are keeping them safe, if your hours have changed, if your stocks of certain items are running low, etc…
Your website along with updated business listings for Google My Business, Bing Places for Business, Yelp, and email are the best tools to keep your customers and the public informed, help them make the right decisions and feel more comfortable doing so.
Your customers will appreciate it, believe me.
So as a small business owner what can I do?
Step one: Create a plan
Institute your emergency business plan if you have one. Although a lot of small businesses make plans for worst case scenarios, a global pandemic is typically not one of them. If you find yourself in this situation, there are some great resources available to help you make the best decisions possible. For the most up to date planning information I would recommend starting with the following websites and guidelines:
CDC (Centers for Disease Control)
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC are the leading national public health institute of the United States. A U.S. federal agency, under the Department of Health and Human Services, they are located in Atlanta, Georgia.
- CDC – Coronavirus (COVID-19) Home Page
- CDC – Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources for Businesses and Employers
- CDC – Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources for Schools and Childcare
- CDC – Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources for Community and Faith-Based Organizations
- CDC – Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources for Travel
Accredited State Health Departments
Source: CDC Website
WHO (World Health Organization)
The World Health Organization or WHO is a special agency of the United Nations that is responsible for global public health.
- WHO – Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Outbreak
- WHO – Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Advice for the Public
- WHO – Getting Your Workplace Ready for COVID-19
Hopefully the above resources will help you gather the information you need to develop your business plan for dealing with Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and keep your business’s employees and customers as safe as possible, and confident in your business’s preparedness.
Step two: Keep your customers informed and in the loop
Keeping the public, customers, and employees informed with the latest information about your business and services is paramount in a crisis. Thankfully this is easier to do in the digital age than the planning stage we went through earlier which was more research based. There are several simple yet powerful ways to reach out that many businesses are missing out on; their business’s website, a targeted email campaign, Facebook and or social media and ensuring your Google My Business, Bing Places for Business, and Yelp listings are accurate and up to date.
Your business’s website
Your website is already the public face of your company, as such it is your front-line for dealing with the public. I recommend creating a special dedicated page that outlines your business’s plan to deal with the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) to reassure customers and employees alike. I would also add a notification or alert bar at the top or bottom of every page with a brief message that points to your Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) page so it’s easily found and accessible by all at a glance.
A perfect example of this is the notification bar we added to our website (see the top of this page) that directs our clients and visitors to an article explaining how Engines of Creation is dealing with this crisis.
Here are some great examples of a notification bar at work:
Email your customers and employees directly
Most businesses and organizations already have a well established email list and if your business falls into this category, use it. Email is an excellent method of reaching the public directly. A quick email that outlines your business’s Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) plan will go a long way to keeping customers informed.
Facebook and social media
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube are fantastic methods of reaching your customers and the public in general during an emergency. You should not hesitate to post across all of your social media accounts about the steps your business is taking to help prevent the spread of Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19).
Many social media accounts limit the amount of information you can post at any given time, so I recommend posting an overview with a link to your website’s Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) plan page. This will allow you to get the most important information out to the public immediately and then point to more information on your businesses website.
Google My Business, Bing Places for Business, & Yelp
Your business’s GMB (Google My Business), Yelp, and Bing Places for Business listings are doubly important right now, especially if your business is temporarily closing, has reduced hours, new phone numbers, or altered days of operation. You can also add information on how your business is dealing with the pandemic in the spot reserved for your business’s description!
When people search your business it is important that the information is accurate and up to date. The only way to do this is to log into your GMB, Bing Places for Business, and Yelp accounts and manually update your hours and days of operation, etc. They will not do this for you, the three major players for business searches leave this up to you.
If you don’t have a Google My Business account or accounts with Bing Places for Business or Yelp, I recommend creating one as soon as possible and filling your profile as thoroughly as you can.
You can create an account for Google My Business, Yelp, and Bing Places for Business by following the following instructions:
- Create A Google My Business Account
- Get Started With A Yelp Account / Claim Your Business
- Start A Bing Places for Business Account / Claim Your Business
The bottom line
We are deep in uncharted waters for business right now and it can most certainly be daunting, overwhelming, and stress inducing. Having a Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) plan, executing it and informing your customers, employees and the public can only help the situation.
So take the time, give it your attention and, more importantly, your action.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns on how to implement any of the suggestions mentioned above we are happy to help. We can easily update your website, help with an email campaign, or claim your online business listings for you. If you need assistance please feel free to reach out to us at (518) 842-3242 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.