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How Small Businesses can Pivot to Sell on Social Media During Covid-19

Just because your physical doors may be closed doesn’t mean your virtual ones aren’t open.

Instead of sitting back, kicking your feet up while bingeing Netflix, consider making some changes in your business right now. The best part? If you go online now, you’ll be ahead of the game for the future and set your business up for success as we further enter the digital world.

Ready to get online? Here are the five things every small business could be doing right now—and no, you don’t need to discount every product just to make ends meet!

1. Make It Personal

First, make sure your marketing materials include creative, thoughtful, and personalized touches. Uncertain times call for personal connection, right? So be sure to include something that will stand out to your customer.

Here’s an example: I recently ordered a blouse from an online boutique. Upon arrival, I opened the box to find a hand-written thank you note, and a cute, branded vinyl sticker (hello free advertising). The best part was the note explaining what that purchase meant to the small business owner and the impact of the transaction during these uncertain times. It was a feel-good moment, not only due to receiving a beautiful product, but I felt connected to a small biz owner I’ve never even met!

2. Go Virtual

Second, the one that should be a bit more obvious, go online! Everyone’s showing up virtually, so you should be, too. This is the time to get hooked on Zoom, Instagram Stories or Reels, and Facebook Live. If you’re offering a service, now’s the time to get creative and provide virtual support. If you’re offering a product, start showing, selling, and shipping using live video. Everyone loves great BTS content.

If your events keep getting pushed back, instead of canceling, switch them to online events. Own a clothing boutique? Perfect. Host a “live” fashion show. Or maybe you sell stationery, crafts, or flowers—why not sell your items live, but make it even more interesting with a three-day challenge where everyone crafts at home with you? Get your community involved not only to try to drive sales but also to give something back to your community! 

3. Discounts, Anyone?

Third, discounts. I know I said don’t discount every product in your inventory, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do any discounts at all. This is a time when many people aren’t making money, so they’re typically not wanting to spend money. What better way to convince them than special (and strategic) offers?

You can do this in a way where you’re selling more but not seeing a dip in profit—meaning, don’t discount just for the sake of offering discounts. Instead, you can bundle items, make a major flash sale with “almost out-of-season” pieces, or offer to match a credit. If someone pays you $30, match them 50% of their payment in credit towards future purchases. Just don’t forget to set a maximum.

If you want to make it even more appealing, you can switch things up and offer a give-back program. Donate a portion of all proceeds, match purchase prices, or accept donations. And remember, if you’re passionate about something, the better it will do and the more people will see and understand your ‘why’ for what you do.

4. Time to Advertise

Fourth, surprise, surprise! Many don’t know this, but online advertising costs are cut in half right now, so take advantage of this opportunity. If you don’t have an online offer that you can get creative with right off the bat, consider just running ads for your quality content and focus on building your email list for when this is over.

Key Tip: Do you have great user-generated content? Use that for ads! We all know word-of-mouth and third-party endorsements are everything, so start utilizing those posts to drive more customers.

5. Cut Through the Noise

Last but not least, cut through the noise. Offer an element of fun to help get people through these difficult times.

Try doing a social media scavenger hunt and ask your followers to find a post where you talked about XYZ, or encourage them to watch today’s story and answer a question. Facilitate a little “playtime,” your audience will appreciate it. 

The best thing you can do during this time is to be human. One thing we truly need to survive is connection, and that’s what’s missing for many right now. So get online, offer weekly video segments around trends that pertain to your business, make quizzes or shareable IG stories, introduce your staff in fun ways, and be a beam of positivity. Remember, there’s always an opportunity to help those in need.

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