Whether it’s a global pandemic, political instability, or an economic slowdown, there are many reasons your customers’ lives changing—and in response, marketing strategies for small businesses need to do the same. As life and work become more digital, there is an opportunity to get creative about online marketing for small businesses. 

Many small businesses across South Florida have changed their approach while using forward-thinking strategies, and we reached out to several top marketers to talk about how they did it. 

For tips and ideas on how to create an online marketing strategy for your small business as you weather the waves of change, keep reading.

TL;DR: 3 Marketing Strategies for Small Businesses

Tip 1: Grow With Customer Behavior

Meet your audience where they are, and shepherd them to where you want them to be. 

Tip 2: Use Online Marketing for Small Businesses to Share New Products and Services

After rolling out new services or products, use online marketing to educate your current and future customers.

Tip 3: Now Is The Time To Build Your Online Presence

Use new tools and customer behaviors to your benefit by creating new online offerings that build on your IRL operations.

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Tip 1: Grow With Customer Behavior 

“We know that customer behavior has changed fundamentally, maybe forever,” Dan Grech, the founder and CEO of BizHack Academy, said during the #BizHack Keeping Your Business Alive During Covid-19 Webinar. 

People are teleworking from home and are becoming more comfortable with learning online, Grech explained further. U.S. consumers will likely continue some of their pandemic-related behaviors, according to McKinsey Insights. In a study, McKinsey found that three out of four American consumers have tried a new shopping behavior, and most intend to continue the new shopping behavior even after COVID-19 subsides. Going into 2021, many consumers plan to spend more money online via online shopping, grocery delivery, and restaurant delivery.

“My target demographic—which is 30 and above—did not grow up with digital. “Grech said. “I think they’re going to become more and more comfortable with learning digital marketing online.” This long-term shift in behaviors makes online marketing even more important for small businesses to connect with their customers and grow new relationships and revenue. 

For a real-life example of this shift, let’s examine how Ascendance Studio in Doral, Florida, leveraged social media to continue to connect with students and parents at the beginning of the pandemic. With a pre-teen customer demographic, owner Rafael Savino started out using Instagram Live to move dance classes online. 

“They were on Instagram all day, so for them, it was an easy transition,” Savino said. 

While it may be easier to convince younger audiences to adopt and adapt to online business practices, older audiences may exhibit more resistance, both Savino and Grech agreed. 

For example, parents were initially hesitant with learning new ways to connect with Ascendance Studio, but now many are taking it as an opportunity to learn. To adapt to customer behavior, small businesses need to consider which channels are worth investing in. 

Ascendance Studio transitioned to using Google Meet and Twilio, an advanced text messaging software, after receiving customer feedback on various channels.

“We send them a text message with the link to their classroom every day,” Savino said. “We’re just trying to make it as frictionless as possible.” 

Small businesses need to think about how to communicate in a way that’s helpful to customers and aligns with their behaviors. 

“Now is not the time to make a hard sell,” Grech said. 

Tip 2: Use Online Marketing for Small Business to Share New Products and Services

Products that are accessible and convenient help customers act as quickly as you want them to. For example, Anna Robins of 222 Taco in North Miami shared how her fast-paced casual restaurant adapted its products to serve customers’ needs best. 

“We had to switch everything over to takeout and delivery,” Robins said. “We decided to do an extra level of packaging to help people feel secure that their food is safe.” 

In addition to coming up with new creative ways to provide customers with takeout options, restaurants across the country also need to change their marketing strategies to spread the word and create sales. 

Robins explained how important it is to educate customers about services in messaging as a part of their advertising efforts. Instead of using competing takeout delivery services, 222 Taco encourages customers to support the business directly. 

While considering the needs of customers, it is also essential to consider the needs of your employees. As stakeholders of any company, employees should be contacted regularly to know their interests are being accounted for. Also, remember that your team can be fantastic online ambassadors for your brand.

Tip 3: Now Is The Time To Build Your Online Presence

To keep business alive, Andreina Santaella, CEO of Polestar Pilates, shared how her international chain of pilates studios transitioned to using an online education system.

“For people who already know how to use the equipment or know enough about basic pilates theory, we have virtual classes and workshops to educate them about how to work out online,” Santaella said. 

Polestar Pilates is currently helping more than 10,000 people worldwide become certified pilates instructors with advanced educational training courses.

“Depending on what module they’re in right now, we meet online to cover the theory part of the training,” Santaella said. 

To keep customers interested, Santaella also created a new lower price offering for people who were on a Groupon package. 

Virtual delivery courses experience increased sales, showing customers are beginning to prefer classes online.

“We have around 20 virtual courses currently in stock, and we’ve been going back to the basics of our core curriculum to convert those into virtual training courses,” Santaella said. 

Digital marketing has changed radically due to the coronavirus pandemic, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing! Here’s what we know: 

There are also many federal, state, and community resources for small businesses, said Rachel Cohen, district and communications manager for the Office of Miami-Dade Commissioner Eileen Higgins. 

“We send out a monthly resource through email called ‘strictlybusiness’ where we put together a list of classes on mostly free programming, grants and loan applications,” Cohen said. 

She encouraged small businesses to reach out to local organizations, as many are offering free consultations to help with loan applications. With a supportive community working together, online marketing for small business owners is stronger than ever before. If you own a small business, BizHack is here to help you succeed in online marketing. On Wednesdays, join BizHack Academy for our FREE #BizHacklive Webinars and hear experts discuss the latest and best small business marketing strategies. For a list of upcoming events, click here.