E-commerce has always been key to growing small and medium sized businesses. But it’s now urgent considering the devastating economic effects of coronavirus. In the new business climate, online revenue can mean the difference between staying afloat or folding.
In July, 32% of Americans missed paying rent or mortgage, according to an Apartment List survey, and one in five (19%) did not make any payment during the first week of the month. Worse, the $600 weekly unemployment bonus (as part of the CARES Act) will expire at the end of July, leaving many unemployed and gig workers lacking funds.
If you’re a struggling freelancer, solo entrepreneur or professional, drop the polished business plan. You’ve got to use what works now. Here are ways to speed up earning online.
Experiment Across Social Platforms To Determine The Best Marketing Strategy
Startups obviously have limited budgets so it’s crucial to quickly find the highest-ROI ad campaigns. You’ll need to experiment with several platforms based on your target demographic, and identify promising campaigns. More than two-thirds of audiences who use Facebook (69%) and YouTube (73%) are adults, according to a 2019 study by Pew Research. Whereas Instagram (37%) and Twitter (22%) have a significantly lower adult user-base.
Does your product or service appeal to older or younger buyers? How does Google Ads compare to Instagram? Would it make sense to focus on YouTube ads and videos? These are all things to consider.
“It’s a challenge to sell hardware online but we ensure that users are satisfied with our product and recommend it to friends, leave comments and motivate the audience,” says Ruslan Vinahradau, CEO of Zorachka, a company selling smart-home cameras.
“We are reaching out to target audiences through Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and other social platforms. But our marketing approach is not built around the topic of security. We believe that buyers are families, pet owners and small businesses, meaning people who are interested in being involved with events on premises.”
Cater To New Consumer Behaviors
A Chinese proverb says, “When the winds of change blow, some people build walls and others build windmills.” Solo entrepreneurs and gig workers can ride a massive trend towards digital commerce, thanks to work-from-home mandates. Malls and brick-and-mortar stores are shuttering operations. However, e-commerce sales jumped 76% in June, reaching $73 billion versus $41 billion a year ago for the same month.
Is it time to pivot? Are you trying to sell products and services that have plummeting demand? These days, even the best salesperson won’t be able to sell luxury time-shares or cruise tickets. With most people working and playing from home, certain products and services are trending in demand, such as remote hardware and technologies.
And one silver lining is that people are more readily available at the moment. “In this new normal of remote work and digital experiences, continuing to connect on a human level and develop real relationships can be incredibly impactful,” says Misti Cain, Founder of Whyzze, a digital strategy company. “Manually reaching out to people and entrepreneurs via social has enhanced my network tenfold and propelled my business forward exponentially in this past month alone. I was encouraged to do more one-on-one outreach based on a podcast I listened to recently about network building. In the past month I’ve made authentic connections with over 100 powerhouse founders, investors, innovators, and educators simply by striking up conversations on social posts and in DMs. I’ve since been referred for speaking opportunities, press opportunities, and my business has been shared with networks I hadn’t previously been aware of or introduced to. I’m also able to recommend new mentors, venture capitalists, and employment candidates to my own network.”
Another trend, buying online and picking up in store (BOPIS) grew 130% year-over-year in June. Perhaps there’s an opportunity to add value in logistics and distribution. BOPIS can increase sales and customer satisfaction, because it addresses the current climate and shopping habits.
“As a brick and mortar shoe repair shop, we offered curbside pick up and drop-offs during the shutdown. This was beneficial for our customers not only because parking in downtown LA is an issue, but customers could easily get their shoes repaired or cleaned without coming into our shop. We promoted this via our Instagram regularly to ensure people understood they could still drop off and pick up despite the store being closed. Luckily we still had some ‘foot’ traffic and were able to sustain our business during the rough months (March/April) even though it was 100% through drop off and pick ups or by appointment only,” says Lauren Fortune, Co-Owner of Goods & Services, a modern shoe repair shop located in the Arts District of Los Angeles specializing in custom resoling and sneaker repair.
The key is to not fight a losing battle but instead build windmills.
Get All Hands On Deck
When marketing your offering, leverage the current landscape. There are millions of students and unemployed workers who can help small businesses. And it doesn’t have to break the bank. Seek freelancers looking for supplemental income during these tough times, friends who may want to help out to gain experience or simply to stay busy during this time, or interns and hourly workers who are are a good fit for the job.
With a marketing campaign, find out which ads perform the best and where. You can measure effectiveness in terms of engagement (shares, likes, etc.), conversions (sales) and growth in followers. But the key is to quickly determine what’s working, and why it’s working, before you spend too much cash. Identify channels where you have low customer acquisition costs so your dollars can go further.
Other great ways to garner some attention is through microblogging on Twitter and LinkedIn. Or sharing photos and videos on Instagram, TikTok, Facebook and YouTube. Trial and error can be demoralizing after weeks or months of coming up empty-handed. Until you hit a gold mine.
The pandemic recession is a challenge for most Americans. It’s time to hustle online.