Ways to promote your business during the COVID-19 crisis

April 8, 2020 / Roberta Hill  / 
It is a delicate matter to find out how to promote and market your company in a time of crisis.

On the one hand, many small businesses struggle to stay afloat in the hope of weathering the storm and reopening after the crisis. On the other hand, nobody wants to appear insensitive or opportunistic.

Nevertheless, there are still opportunities to promote your business in these troubling and frightening times.
The key is to do four things at once:
1. Meet your audience where they are.
2. Offer a clear value in a time of need
3. Be sensitive to the time and avoid missteps.
4. Take advantage of special advertising offers and promotions.

Here are some suggestions to help you.

Meet your audience where they are

In a sense, the fact that most people stay at home and avoid social gatherings gives small business owners a unique opportunity. Even at the risk of taking the seriousness of the situation too lightly, you have a captive audience. This means that the people you want to reach, spend more time with you than they normally do online. Digital marketing will be more critical now than ever before – and small businesses can and should benefit from it.

It is an excellent time to rethink your marketing mix. You should consider taking money from things like direct marketing if you've always done it and investing it in these things:
  • Advertising in social media
  • Advertising in search engines
  • E-mail marketing
It is a good time, as you are going through your analyses over a few weeks after an almost worldwide “stay at home” to see what is happening to subscribers. Do you have a bunch of new followers at Pinterest? Your marketing budget should reflect that.

Offer a clear value in a time of need

While many of us are scared and unemployed, many people work from home and like to support local businesses. It is an excellent time to get creative and think about how to serve them. For example, I have seen some companies offering “Buy Now and Save Later” promotions where they introduce offers even if the company is closed at present. What a great way to engage your audience and buy from you – and create some continuity to help you through a temporary closure. Another option is to find ways to put your regular services online. This is not a solution for everyone, but many companies have adapted in a truly inspiring way.

If you can find a way to use technology to help your audience, now is the time. If you are a manufacturer, there are potential ways to help people directly and concretely. A good example is Toast, a company that usually makes phone and laptop cases and other products from natural materials such as wood and leather. In a short period, they have converted their machines and developed a fully reusable face shield that they make available to hospitals and emergency responders.

Refine your SEO

Your marketing should reflect what you do to create added value. If you offer emergency services or virtual services, you might want to put some money into SEO for keywords related to the changes. For example, a restaurant that is focused on display and delivery could invest some cash in local keywords that contain these terms to ensure they reach their audience. However, it is not a good idea to completely stop spending on your regular keywords. Remember that both Google and Facebook have advertising credit programs for small businesses to use during the pandemic. It's still important to maintain your Google rank for your general target keywords. If you don't do this, your ranking may get a hit – and if that happens, it can be difficult to recover when we return to business as usual.

Keep the conversation going

If your business is temporarily closed or offers limited services, you can still invest in “soft” marketing to engage and involve your audience. Two of the best ways to do this are social media marketing and e-mail marketing. You may be tired of hearing me talk about e-mail marketing, but it still has a very high ROI, and it's a great way to stay in touch without being overbearing. The same goes for social media marketing. Your organic contributions provide an opportunity to stimulate conversation, find out what your followers think, and remind them of your value. Promoted posts can do the same.

Be sensitive to time and avoid missteps

One of the most challenging things in marketing during a crisis is finding the right balance between sensitivity and business issues. Any business that is seen as an attempt to exploit people is likely to have unpleasant consequences. The first thing to avoid is for marketing to take the current situation lightly or to reject the genuine pain and fear of people. Empathy is the word of the day and companies that demonstrate their customers will reward this. The second point is that you focus on your customers and not on your financial worries. There is nothing wrong with worrying about the survival of your business, but if it looks like that is the only thing you worry about, you may end up alienating the people you want to attract.

Be adaptable

None of us knows what next week or next month will bring. It may be that a marketing campaign that works today will be twice as effective in a week, or it may not deliver results, and you will need to redesign it. I realize that this may not be reassuring, but I believe that with the right attitude, it can be a good thing.

Check your analyses regularly.

If you can afford it, do some A/B testing to refine your campaigns. Change elements as needed – and be prepared to change them again if you need to. Marketing your business is still a must during the pandemic, but you need to be on your feet and do everything you can to serve your audience. If you can do that, your company will survive the crisis.

8 Great Types of Content Marketing for Local Businesses

November 4, 2019 / Roberta Hill  / 

You know that content marketing is still king. That’s unlikely to change and that means that it’s your job to create and share the kind of content that’ll bring customers to your business and help you improve your bottom line.

The numbers back up content marketing’s importance. Research shows that 91% of all B2B companies use content marketing, and the same is true of 86% of B2C businesses. However, only 63% of companies have a dedicated content strategy.

You can see the issue at hand. Content marketing is a must and yet doing it improperly – without a clear focus and strategy – can be a huge waste of time and money.

With that in mind, here are 8 content marketing types to help you build your strategy and grow your business.

#1: Blog Posts

Blog posts are hardly revolutionary in the world of content marketing, yet a lot of local businesses still aren’t blogging regularly. Those who do reap rewards:

  • Companies that blog get 97% more links to their websites than companies that don’t
  • Companies with blogs have a 434% higher chance of receiving a high Google rank compared to companies without blogs
  • 10% of blog posts are compounding, which means that they attract more organic traffic over time

For the best results, keep your blog posts tightly focused. Optimize them for local and voice search and make sure to use a clear, easy-to-follow structure in each post.

#2: Infographics  

A lot of local businesses don’t bother with infographics and that’s a shame. They’re increasingly popular and perfect if you need to present a lot of data in a way that’s easy to understand.

While you might think you need to hire a professional graphic designer to make infographics for you, that’s not true. Online tools such as Canva and Venngage make it simple to create beautiful, shareable infographics.

Infographics can help you build authority and gravitas. They’re ideal for sharing on Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook. If you’ve posted a data-heavy blog recently, consider transforming it into an infographic to share on social media.

#3: Customer Testimonials 

You already know that customer reviews and testimonials are essential forms of social proof to use in your online marketing. However, if you handle them properly, they can also be part of your content marketing strategy.

Consider shooting video testimonials that tell a compelling story and give people a reason to buy your product or use your service. Video testimonials can be posted on your website, emailed to your list, or shared on social media.

#4: Case Studies

The term “case study” can be an intimidating one but think of them as in-depth customer testimonials. A testimonial will usually focus on how the customer feels about your business. A case study shows how you or your product helped a customer.

If you decide to use case studies in your content marketing, make sure to:

  • Tell a compelling story in an engaging way. Incorporating some suspense and emotion into the story will keep people interested and ensure they stick around until the end.
  • Be as specific as possible. Don’t just say that you helped your client grow their business – provide metrics and numbers wherever it’s possible.
  • Show your customer’s journey from start to finish. Make sure to explain where they started, why they came searching for you, and what happened after they found you.

Case studies should be featured on your website. They can also be shared on social media.

Why a Mailing List is a Must for your Business

January 8, 2019 / Roberta Hill  / 

Why You Need a Mailing List for your Local Business

Do you have an email list for your local business? If you’re like a lot of business owners, the answer is no. You might think you don’t need one, or that you simply don’t have the time to make use of it.

The truth is that building an email list is easy and inexpensive, and it doesn’t have to be time-consuming if you have the right tools to manage it.

Benefits of Having an Email List

If you’re wondering why you need an email list, here are a few of the benefits of having one:

  1. It gives you a simple, inexpensive way to communicate with your customers.
  2. It makes it easy to segment your list and market to the people who are most likely to buy a particular product.
  3. It can help you learn more about your customers. If you send out emails about different products and one gets a lot more attention than the other, it can help you grow your business and give your customers what they want.
  4. It increases name recognition and keeps you at the forefront of your customers’ minds.
  5. It increases sales.

Not only is it a good idea to have an email list, it would be a mistake not to have one.

A recent study shows that customers who receive email newsletters spend 82% more when they buy from the company. (iContact) and 7 in 10 people say they made use of a coupon or discount from a marketing email in the last 7 days. (Blue Kangaroo)

How to Get People to Sign up for Your List


GDPR: Why You Can’t Afford To Ignore It (Even if your small business isn’t in the EU)

June 25, 2018 / Roberta Hill  / 

What does a European Union law about privacy have to do with your small business?

That might seem like a ridiculous question to ask, but it’s not.

The General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR for short, went into effect on month ago today on May 25, 2018. And with privacy issues in the news on a near-daily basis, with the recent Congressional hearings about Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, you can’t afford to ignore the ramifications of GDPR for your business.

You could keep your head buried in the sand – but that’s not a good idea. Here’s what you need to know about GDPR.

GDPR is a law that was designed to standardize data privacy in the European Union’s member countries. It represents a big chance – and a victory for EU citizens, who can now be confident that their data will be secure and that the regulations used to ensure its security are transparent.

On the flip side, EU-based businesses have had to scramble to be compliant with the new rules. The biggest requirement involves Personal Identification Information, or PII. PII is sometimes used as a general term in the United States to describe personal information that companies might collect and store on behalf of their customers.

While PII has traditionally included information like Social Security numbers and addresses, the GDPR expands the definition of PII to include other things. For example:

  • Web data, including the user’s location, IP address, cookies, and RFID tags
  • Medical and genetic data, including medical records, test results, and DNA
  • Biometric data, including fingerprints and other unique identifiers
  • Racial and ethnic data
  • Political opinions and orientation
  • Sexual orientation

In other words, companies in the EU must now protect their customers’ IP addresses and other information collected online with the same care that they would financial information. It further requires that organizations:

  • Store and process personal data only with an individual’s explicit consent
  • Hold data for only as long as it is necessary to do so
  • Destroy stored data upon request

There’s no denying that the implementation of GDPR represents a big change for EU companies.


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