In today’s world, it takes grit to run your own business.  Not only has competition gotten tougher, but COVID-19 has thrown yet another curveball into the mix.  The last few months, I’ve witnessed some of the biggest and well-known brands struggle to survive during this difficult time, which means that small and medium-sized businesses have even more work to do to stay afloat and thrive.  Now that business is picking back up again, it’s important to make yourself stand out from the crowd more than ever before, especially online.

So, how exactly can you do this?  Here’s what I’ve found to be the most effective strategies to help businesses stand out from the crowd:

Be transparent

If there’s one thing that customers love, it’s transparency.  Now is the perfect time to let your customers know what’s going on in your business and how you plan on moving forward.  In order to do this, I recommend recrafting your brand story to reflect your current state of affairs in an honest, yet positive manner.  For example, if you’re in the midst of making changes to ensure physical distancing at your location, snap some photos and share it online to show them you care about their safety.  Or, you can go even further by reaching out to your customers to ask them what they need, want, or expect from your business as you navigate the pandemic alongside them.

Be real

When I first became a marketer over 20 years ago, marketing was about convincing customers that they needed your product or service.  Things have certainly changed over the years.  Now, customers want to feel an emotional connection to your brand before they buy.  It sounds odd, but humanizing your business is actually one of the easiest things you can do, and also one of  the most important considering we’re now limited in our ability to communicate face-to-face. To start, I recommend altering your social media strategy to include user-generated content from the people who know your brand best: your staff and customers.  Some of my favourite ways to do this include capturing memorable moments between your staff and customers and posting them online, featuring guest blogs from your customers discussing their firsthand experiences with your business, and going “live” on social media. 

Be unique

If you really want to stand out from the crowd, you need to be unique.  Spend some time looking at what your competitors are doing as they rebuild their businesses.  Are they offering discounts or promotions to get customers in the door, or are they offering something even more flashy?  Once you determine what is already being done, you can think of ways to elevate what’s already out there or brainstorm something new.   Regardless of what you choose to do, make sure you communicate it as soon as possible and in a way that prioritizes safety above all else.

It may take some time for business to return to normal, but as you can see, there are little things you can do to make yourself stand out from the crowd.  If you’re interested in discussing different ways to engage your customers as you reopen, contact us at CreativeWorks Marketing today!