By Nancy Marshall, The PR Maven® 

‘All Business Is Between Human Beings’: The PR Maven On Small Businesses And COVID-19

  • Don’t quit on new technologies. There are still opportunities to embrace new platforms and resources that will help your business continue to run smoothly during the pandemic.
  • Look for ways to show customers that you appreciate them on a consistent basis. Make these gestures repeatable processes within your workflow and client interactions.
  • Ensure your marketing plan is up-to-date based on any changes you’ve made to your business goals as a result of COVID-19.

If you’re a small business owner, I don’t have to tell you that navigating COVID-19 has been a challenge.

For more than a year, you’ve been facing that challenge on a daily basis, reacting to changing safety measures and guidelines, making tough decisions and doing everything you can to take care of your employees and customers in what can only be described as ~unprecedented times.~

Even as life begins to return to normal, I know that running a small business during and in the aftermath of this pandemic will continue to present new questions and obstacles… but I’m here to help!

On Episode 132 of The PR Maven Podcast, I share my best tips for how your small business can beat COVID-19 and come out on the other side thriving. I offered these suggestions at a meeting of the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce back in January, and I’m thrilled to bring them directly to you on this episode.

‘All Business Is Between Human Beings’: The PR Maven On Small Businesses And COVID-19It’s all about empathy: Show customers you care

If the last year has taught us anything, it’s that we have the ability to really come together and support each other when the going gets tough — and not only at the individual level. Even as brands and small businesses, your empathy for others can go a long way.

In fact, weathering the COVID-19 era has offered — and will continue to offer — opportunities for you to show your customers and audience what you are all about. A brand is about more than a logo, a tagline or a company name. It’s about the way people feel in their hearts and minds about your business and the people who lead it. Demonstrating empathy for and solidarity with others — whether they’re still prospective clients or have been working with you for years — shows that you respect and care about what they are going through. After all, everyone has had challenges to deal with over the last year.

Remember: all business is between human beings. When you’re making decisions about your business, your primary priority should be the humans who are impacted by it. With this principle as your guide, you’ll come through any challenge with your integrity… not to mention plenty of loyal customers.

Here are a few more specific tips for small businesses still navigating the global pandemic.

1. Embrace technology

We’ve all had to adapt our working routines for remote meetings and events over the last year, which has meant one thing: technology. I don’t know about you, but Zoom has become one of my new best friends since the start of the pandemic! I understand technology fatigue is real, and I know you may be sick and tired of integrating new platforms and systems into your business, but I urge you to keep embracing these resources.

And I’m not just talking about social media. If anything, I challenge you to turn to other technological tools, especially your email newsletter.

Your business doesn’t actually own the follower base you develop on Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms… but it does own your email list. If you’re looking for ways to increase your interactions with customers post-pandemic, now is the time to collect email addresses for that list and to start sending valuable content to the people on it. Share behind the scenes information, offers and sneak previews of upcoming brand news.

You might even consider sending a simple note letting your customers know you’re thinking of them in these challenging times. Speaking of which…

2. Add an extra brand touch to everything you do

There’s never been a more important moment to figure out how to connect with people and to make them feel appreciated. After all that your customers and audiences have been through, making those connections and showing that appreciation might just be what separates you from your competition.

Brainstorm repeatable processes that you can use in your normal flow of business to demonstrate a little extra kindness. I call this “the brand touch.”

Consider the specific, reliable language that associates of certain chain restaurants use to greet customers when they pull up to a drive-through. Those associates are trained with that verbiage because the business wants you to know you are seen and appreciated. Mirror those little details in your own business. With so many people feeling depressed and anxious, those gestures will go a long way toward helping you pull through this crisis.

3. Take a fresh look at your marketing plan

If you haven’t seriously revisited your marketing plan since the pre-pandemic days, it’s about time you did so! I would bet that your goals after a year of COVID-19 are different from your goals in January of 2020, and your marketing strategy should reflect that. It should also reflect the lessons you’ve learned through this experience and the new technologies you’ve picked up from it.

There’s no time like the present to gather your team, talk openly about realistic business goals that make sense for this particular moment and look for opportunities to achieve those goals in new ways with your marketing and publicity.

4. Demonstrate your commitment to safety

Make sure your current COVID-19 safety precautions are up-to-date on your website, and that those guidelines are easy for people to find when they’re looking for your brand online. Supply feedback forms — whether online or in-person — so that clients can let you know what they think about the way you’re managing these health issues.

Nothing will make your customers feel like they matter to you more than clear messaging from your business about the measures you are continuing to take to ensure their health and safety.

This is based on episode 132 of The PR Maven® Podcast, a podcast hosted by Nancy Marshall. Weekly interviews feature industry leaders, top executives, media personalities and online influencers to give listeners a peek into the world of public relations, marketing and personal branding. Subscribe through Apple, Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts.