The COVID-19 pandemic is changing how people do business. From working at home, telecommuting with clients, and having to temporarily close brick and mortar shops, your business is entering uncharted territory. Before you panic and throw in the towel, it is time to reevaluate how you can reach your customers and adapt your business to pandemic challenges.

While your business may change, it can still survive. Look at the restaurant industry which in many places have been forced to discontinue inside dining. They are adapting by providing take out and delivery. According to Harvard Business Review, a cosmetic company in China increased sales by 200% during the coronavirus crisis, despite having to close 40 percent of its stores, by shifting their marketing and sales to online.

Move your sales strategy to online

With increased closings and people sheltered at home, they have more time on their hands, and in today’s online world, they are heading to the internet. They still need goods and services, and they are looking for ways to find what they need. How will you respond? What is your small business website, email, and social media plan?

Social network sources are expected to have an increase in usage as more people are home. In November 2019, eMarketer estimated that US adults ages 18 and older would spend 54.56 minutes per day on social networks in 2020. That usage is now expected to increase.

What products and services do your customers need and how can you let them know about this online? Update your website, provide an online buying option. Let customers know how to order from you online. Increase your email marketing strategy. Set up an email funnel to get emails on your website, then nurture those customers with value added emails to improve their situation. Let them know about sales or provide coupons.

Connect with your customers

Now is a good time for you to connect with your audience through social media posts, Facebook Lives, and virtual events. As conferences are cancelled, you can still provide valuable, usable information to clients through your own video conferences. Having these videos available on replay will also provide you more exposure and help you reach a broader audience. Videos also help customers get to know you and make you feel real to them.

If you are an established business person who is used to face-to-face customers, this a great way for you to continue to connect and even help your customers through this difficult time. Think about your business and what services you provide that might help them: virtual yoga or meditation classes, a cooking video, garden prep seminar, insurance Q&A session, a podcast on healthy living. The list is endless and can be tailored to your particular business.

Make sure you are putting all business hour changes and protocol changes on all of your marketing venues. The more you communicate with your customers the better. Communicating with transparency builds trust and goodwill. Be sure to reassure customers of decisions you make and behind the scenes activities you are doing to serve them and keep them safe. Everyone is affected by this pandemic, so be transparent about your business and the effects you are feeling. Customers can empathize with you if they know you are facing rough times too.

Regular social media posts can also help you connect with customers who are probably going to spend even more time on social media. Be there with information they can use, light hearted or reassuring posts to help alleviate some of their worry, and reminders about what your business can do for them.

Make good use of a slowdown

If your business slows down, use that time to do the tasks you’ve been putting off that can help your business in the long run.

Update or activate Google My Business

If you have not made your Google My Business fully functional, now is a great time to do that. According to Bright Local, typical businesses can get 59 actions from their Google My Business listing. This is free advertising. You do not need to sign up for the paid version. Once you sign up, be sure to add all the pertinent information like hours, address, contact information and a link to your website. It is also a good idea to ask customers to leave you a quick review on your Google My Business page. While you are at it you can also ask them if you can use that review as a testimonial on your website or social media.

Improve your website

Use this time to improve your website. If you need to update, add to, or rebuild your website, now is a good time. With your web presence more important than ever, make sure it is as customer friendly, easy to read, and eye appealing as it can be. Unless you are a website and copywriting expert, this is the time to hire a professional.

Rebrand you business

This may be a perfect time to rebrand your business to redefine your company image. A new logo, tagline, signage, business cards, brochures, and well written copy can present the fresh look you’re looking for. It might be possible to have some of this complete when you are able to reopen you business at full swing.

Get social virtually

Join the social media world. If you haven’t delved into social media yet, now is the time. Enlist a young associate to help set up your accounts and have them show you how to do make posts, or better yet, hire someone to manage it for you.

Thank your customers

Now is also a good time to reach out to your customers in a personal way. Thank them for their patronage. Let them know how much you appreciate them. You can also discuss something you are looking forward to when the world gets back to business as usual. Everyone likes to be appreciated, and in these trying times a heart-felt note of encouragement can go a long way to boost spirits and keep customers thinking about you.

Make a difference

While it may feel like things are out of your control right now, there are some things you do have control over. Select a few positive actions you can take and make the best of it. Use this time to adapt your business to the pandemic challenge. Connect in a positive way with customers, and make a difference in your world. People will notice, and it can only help your future business.