Small Business marketing lessons from COVID-19

As small businesses work to apply for loans, connect with consumers from a distance, communicate re-opening, and stay afloat, marketing isn’t always top of mind. But, digital marketing has been the lifeline for many small businesses through this time. I’ve compiled some in-the-moment lessons I’ve learned through consultations, and will update as we continue through this unprecedented time.

Be present

Right now, consumers aren’t living, acting, or purchasing the way they did pre-pandemic, obviously. Data show that no one wants to be sold to right now. Just look at the national brands switching to “we are here for you” messaging. In order for that to work for your small business, you need to not only tell your consumers but SHOW them that you care.

  • Write hand-written thank you notes wishing your consumers well
  • Create content like video tutorials or Q&As on topics consumers may be interested in
  • Give them a free gift, it could be something as small as emailing a positive message every Friday

Be digital

Pre-pandemic there may have been a few digital hold outs — stores that were able to conduct business without a digital presence. But, that isn’t an option any more. Any store without a website spent the first month of the pandemic trying to get a website up and running. Thankfully, many e-commerce solutions are easy to DIY, but building during a crisis isn’t ideal.

  • If you are just building your social media, pick ONE social media platform to start with, and perfect that before moving on. You can choose your platform based on your target audience. If they are older, Facebook, if they are younger, Instagram, then work from there.
  • The quality of your photos affects sales. But, you don’t have to be Annie Leibowitz; using an iPhone X or higher on portrait mode will increase your photo quality off the bat until you can get professional product photography done.
  • If you were already digital, but you often put it on the back burner, you had to quickly up your game. Like I always write, the best way to up your game is to make videos, specifically, going live.

Be Agile 

Every time I see a pandemic-era commercial on TV I imagine what the ad agency behind the commercial looked like frantically trying to turn away from their sales pitches to “we are here for you,” messages. Small businesses don’t usually employ an ad agency, but that same type of quick turn to respond to the moment is important for everyone.

  • Make sure you communicate a change in sales/ specials/ marketing campaigns to everyone on the team. Everyone from the register to the office, if someone isn’t in the loop with new messaging, campaigns, or plans, then communication can be fumbled when it comes to the consumer.
  • When coming up with quick responses, try not to reinvent the wheel. Big brands like Subaru had an easier time with caring messages because that is already the staple of their brand. The same with Carvana… their whole model is delivering cars and ordering them online, and that is what they are capitalizing on.
  • Find the balance between a short implementation timeline and carelessness. Don’t let a poorly executed great idea put a wrench in your consumer relationship. The best way to prevent this is to schedule out your normal process, but communicate a shorter timeline to implementation. Don’t skip steps unless you have to!

If you’d like to add to these lessons learned, or you’d like a free consultation please email