Because of the pandemic, many small businesses are rushing to pivot online. Doing it all at once is a challenge – but one worth taking on, says Ada Slivinski.
Over the past year, I have been fielding calls from small business owners, educational institutions, and not-for-profits realizing just how critical a digital strategy is for their business to succeed. As there are so many small businesses struggling right now, I thought it might be helpful to share some advice here.
Walk-by traffic is no longer a reliable way to reach customers, almost all word-of-mouth referrals now take place online and e-commerce has continued to grow, with many analysts predicting this trend will continue.
In order to make the most of online opportunities, businesses need a three pronged approach: a strong brand, a social strategy, and targeted media and influencer campaigns.
My brand agency friends say it takes someone a tenth of a second to form an opinion about your brand. This means that in order to create an accurate and appealing first impression, the first place to start is with the look and feel of your digital assets.
Customers now have more choice than ever at their fingertips. The practical effect of this is you can push out all the Facebook ads you want, but unless you give them a reason to choose you, you may well just be advertising for your competitors.
A typical rebrand process takes between two and three months. If done right, it will help discover or redefine your company’s unique value proposition – and more to the point, who to target as your ideal customer, and why.
Once the brand process is done, social media content should be consistent and on-brand. It needs to tell the story of who you are and why you’re in business. There’s no absolute rule, but three to four social posts across all active platforms per week is a good target; enough to keep you front of mind for your audience, without overwhelming their feeds and prompting an unfollow. It’s an opportunity to showcase people using your products, answer questions, and share positive reviews. It’s a sticky spot to capture audiences who find you through other means.
The final prong – and the one that can lead to exponential sales growth – is targeted media and influencer campaigns to get more brand awareness, help people find you, and boost credibility. Brand mentions and links to your website in reputable media sites also do wonders for SEO, moving you higher up in search results. Influencers are anyone who is trusted in your space and who leads purchase trends.
This all may seem like a daunting endeavour, but it’s worth it: a unified strategy with all the digital pieces working together can give you the best return on your investment. The beauty of the digital shift is the potential to reach so many more people than with a traditional model.
Ada Slivinski is the Founder & Principal of Jam PR, a boutique agency focused on helping small businesses get big exposure. You can reach her at email@example.com
- Ada Slivinski last wrote about COVID-19 and customer service – and how it’s become even more of a differentiator than before.
- Besides being Mayor of Port McNeill, Gaby Wickstrom also runs a small business – and not only is doing both a juggling act, being one sometimes creates new obstacles for another.
- Back in September, Jordan Bateman looked at the state of small business in BC, and concluded the sector desperately needed help.