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It’s business UN-usual for SMMEs during Covid-19

Many small and medium-sized enterprises have had their whole world turned upside down due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Tried and tested business practices; reliant on sales reps and face to face visits, as well as full teams in the office and on the factory floor, are all falling by the wayside in this time of social distancing as the virus sweeps through South Africa.

Do you give up? Do you cut down on your expected targets? Do you shut down your business?

NO! You re-think, re-strategise and re-plan. You CAN keep going and, what’s more, you can come out at the end of this with a company better able to cope with unexpected events, a new way of doing business and a great digital presence.

Many small and medium-sized manufacturing concerns have always relied on their sales teams and personal connections to get new business and orders. And, in normal times, there is nothing wrong with that. But what do you do when your sales teams can’t be out in the marketplace, meeting new people, demonstrating your products or attending events and shows?

You go digital.

Your website is your ‘shopfront’ and your presence. Now, more than ever, it is important to present a professional and useful image to your potential customers and clients. Many SMMEs have very basic and outdated websites, which was fine while their sales team and their business premises were the primary channels for business communication. However, this is not the time to look old-fashioned and dated. You need a professional website, full of useful content, where potential customers can find many of the answers they need. Your website is your company image – it’s important the image you put out there is the right one.

If your sales reps are quiet right now, get them working. What are the questions they are asked most often when selling your products or services? Get them to write these down, together with the answers they normally give. What are the USPs (unique selling points) that gain them the most interest. How do they get appointments? What convinces a potential client to see them? Put all of this information together and then get it edited and rewritten by a professional. This makes very valuable content to add to your website.

Do your sales teams show videos to potential clients? Do these work? Well, if that’s the case, then make sure you add them to your website.

You can add a chatbot to your website too. Or alternatively, have someone available to answer questions on a messaging app. The beauty of both of these technologies is that you don’t need people physically sitting in the office.

Make sure your website is well-planned and well thought out. Ensure you include Calls to Action (CTAs) in all the relevant places. Let your website be the first port of call for potential clients. And, of course, ensure you react quickly and professionally to any queries made.

Spend this time wisely. Use your database of existing customers and start sending out regular newsletters. People are now, more than ever before, receptive to digital communication. Take advantage of this! You will be fostering customer relationships and ensuring your clients know you are open for business.

Set up a digital lead generation campaign. Establish your client personas – ask your sales teams for input here – and then work out which digital channels will work the best for your lead generation campaigns. This is going to be different dependent on the products you sell and the type of customer you need to attract. So, it could be Google Ads, Bing Ads, LinkedIn campaigns, Facebook and Instagram campaigns, YouTube and many more.

Now is the time to focus on your social media as well. Again, dependent on your product and your client persona, consider which social media channels will work the best for you and then start spending more time and effort on them. Pinpoint someone in your team that is not that busy at the moment and put them in charge of adding content. Start building up those digital audiences.

All of the above initiatives will get you through these bad times. But what they will also do is ensure you are optimally prepared for the digital world into the future. Make sure you have the competitive edge and start right now!

Evergreen Media is a B2B digital marketing agency, specialising in website development, content, lead generation, digital advertising campaigns, search engine optimisation and social media. We can help with all the options mentioned above and specialise in industrial marketing. Get in touch for a thoughtful, well-planned and effective digital plan, aligned to your budget and your company objectives.

Written by: Louise Coetzee

Louise Coetzee is a digital marketing specialist and a director of Evergreen Media. She has worked in the publishing industry for 30 years, primarily in B2B, and is an expert in SEO, digital advertising, content writing and website planning. Evergreen Media focuses on SME’s in the industrial sector. All three directors and our team understand that B2B in this sector is highly specialised and needs a focused and well-planned approach in order to succeed in the digital space. Get in touch if you would like to find out more.

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