Confidently Build Your Business During COVID-19: Six Steps to Help You Grow and Thrive
Carla Williams Johnson
I read somewhere that if 2020 were a drink that it would be vodka in a water bottle, when you’re expecting it to be water. Could you imagine? You started out the year with so much hope and promise and then, somewhere along the lines you feel like you’re getting hit from all sides. COVID-19 has done quite a number of us, making us feel like we’ve somehow entered into the “twilight zone” cue eerie music here.
For some of us, it has been a disaster of titanic proportions. Throw in politics and protests, and it seems like you can’t catch a break. For others, however, this has been the most epic roller coaster ride of their lives! They’ve never been so visible or have made so many connections in their business before. This is because the pandemic has forced them to make significant changes in the way they show up and market themselves, and boy have they been killing it in their businesses.
Now if you fall in the latter: Congrats, keep doing what you’re doing and making that impact; however, if you’re one of those who only just started and are still trying to figure things out then no worries, I’ve got you. Here are six super simple steps to help you grow and thrive, even during this pandemic.
1: Get to Know Your Target Inside out
I say this over and over again to all my community, your audience is everything, so you need to know everything about them. There is no possible way you can be everything to everybody, you have to get specific so let’s look at a few things:
Demographics: These are things like the age, gender, income status, etc.
Psychographics: What are their values or what do they believe in?
Behavior Patterns: What do they like to do in their free time?
Understanding these will tell you who they are, where you need to be, and when will be best to connect with them.
2: Have an End Goal in Mind
While I understand that your goal is to ultimately make money, there’s a process to all of it. What I mean is that what you do may be slightly different depending on what phase you are in business and what you’ll actually be promoting.
So, ask yourself, what is the purpose of advertising? Are you launching a new product, or have you been around a while and you’re focused on building brand awareness? Maybe you’re having an event and your end goal is to fill the room (virtually of course… we can’t be too careful during this pandemic). My point is that you’ve got to get very specific as to your objectives. Understand how much money you would like to make, how many tickets you would like to sell for the event, or how many units you’d like to sell by a specific date. This will not only help you craft your copy and content to suit, but working backwards it can help you figure out when you should begin promoting and how much you will need to charge to reach your goal. Remember, strategy is key.
3: Identify What Has Worked for You in the Past
If you’ve been here for a while, take a look back to see what has helped you gain some traction over time. Have you been posting on social media or maybe you’ve printed and distributed flyers? If you’ve had some degree of success, then by all means double down on your efforts.
It might be a good idea to poll customers to find out where they found out about you so you can show up more there – especially now since some of their habits may have changed during the pandemic
If you’re just starting out, then this might be the best time to ask persons you would like to work with where the best place is to connect with them, and start there. I have found that the informal approach works best, so don’t be afraid to ask a question to get real and honest feedback.
4: Get Rid of What Has Not Been Working for You
Seems simple enough but you’d be amazed how many people stick with things because it seems “easier to do” or because “they’re accustomed.” When building a business, you have an abundance of time and energy to invest in your business, but unfortunately both of these investments are non-replenishable so be sure to invest them wisely.
If you have been living on social media with no success or you’ve been cold calling and direct messaging and it’s not giving any results, then maybe it’s time to look at something else. Go back to the previous points to help you determine who and where your target is. Ask some of your past or even potential clients what would be the best way to connect with them; it may be as simple as doing a pop-up shop to get directly in front of them or using another media.
5: Have an Advertising Budget
I cannot tell you how many people I’ve met who absolutely refuse to say how much money they’d like to invest into promoting their business. Honestly knowing this can help you determine what you can realistically do, especially because you’ll need to invest consistently over a 90-day period in order to see results.
Work with a figure that you’re comfortable with. Even if it’s a small amount, you’d be amazed at what a small advertising budget and well thought out plan can do. Also, don’t feel ashamed if you have no budget at all. Most startups don’t, but there are quite a few things you can still do to promote your brand. You just need to be creative… which brings me to the following sixth step.
6: Get Creative
Limited resources mean that you’re going to need to get creative with promoting your business. Consider collaborating with other business owners to leverage their communities and to show up in front of whole new audiences. Just a few months ago, I was tagged as a sponsor of an event where I donated a bonus gift item, and I was able to take advantage of all the advertising and promotion of the event and was able to connect with so many persons who now see me as aligned with this great event. It did wonders for my reputation, so this is something you may want to consider. Getting featured in the media is also a great way to build brand awareness, credibility, and authority for your brand. Best of all, many journalists are looking to feature business owners right now, particularly to discuss how they’re coping during this pandemic. Many of these features are free – you just have to know where to look. There are so many ways to engage with your audience, so think “outside the box” and figure out how you can stand out in your market.
There you have it: six pretty simple steps to help you build your brand even now. Trust me, it’s doable and you’ve got what it takes. So, get going. I’m ready to see you take the world by storm.