It’s important to know how to market a small business effectively as many industries continue to experience and adapt to great change. With new regulations and safety precautions, customer behavior has changed dramatically and will likely continue to evolve. In response, small businesses must plan for the long-term to serve the needs of their customers. 

For three simple rules to plan for the long-term while addressing short-term uncertainty, keep reading. 

TL;DR: Three Rules To Marketing A Small Business In Uncertainty

  1. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
  2. Have a plan for the long term
  3. Use today to reinvent your business
Want more of these great insights? Subscribe to our community newsletter and get invited to #BizHackLive events.  Don’t forget to follow BizHack on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Rule 1: Get Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable 

“The Serenity Prayer is perfect for what we’re going through right now,” said Bruce Turkel, author and branding expert in the #BizHackLive Achieving Certainty In An Uncertain Time webinar. 

“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

“Accept the things that you can’t change,” Turkel said, referring to the second stanza of the prayer. “There are parts of your business that are gone and are not coming back. If they do come back, they’re going to come back differently.”

It’s easy to make decisions based on emotional concerns. However, small business leaders must conduct frequent gut checks to ensure they make sensible decisions for the future. 

“Things are going to happen that you don’t want to deal with,” Turkel said. “Whether it’s downsizing your business or moving your business online, it’s important to take accountability for your decisions.”

Uncertainty is the perfect time for small businesses to be open and transparent with customers. Take this as an opportunity to expand your depth of knowledge about an industry, product, or service.

Rule 2: Have A Plan For The Long-Term

It’s tried but true advice: to set yourself up for success, you need to have a long-term plan. 

“This is the No. 1 thing you can do to achieve certainty in uncertain times,” Turkel said. “You need to set yourself up for sustainable business opportunities.” 

While it may feel counterintuitive to plan for the future while coping with uncertainty, it’s actually the best thing small businesses can do.

“I think it’s very important that we reinvent and pivot for the long-term,” Turkel said. “I’d be very careful not to pivot based specifically on what you do right now.” 

Small businesses can start building a long-term plan with an optimal outcome strategy, Turkel said. This marketing strategy helps determine an organization’s goals by working backward from the finish line. 

By working toward an optimal outcome, small businesses can identify the challenges and opportunities they may encounter along the way. 

“Small businesses need to ask the right questions to get the right answers to their problems,” Turkel said. 

Often, this approach may result in multiple goals and desired outcomes. In that case, Turkel recommends building two optimal outcome strategies

“When you come to a fork in the road, take it,” Turkel said, referencing a Yogi Berra quote.

It’s OK to have different goals while learning how to market a small business, he added. “You need to take the opportunity to grow in multiple directions during times of uncertainty,” he said.

Rule 3: Use Today To Reinvent Your Small Business

Once you know where you’re going, it’s important to target your offerings and marketing in a way that supports your immediate and long-term strategies. To begin, identify your current products and services and evaluate them accordingly. Then, think about how to communicate them in a way that will make customers fall in love with your business. 

TIP: Know What Products And Services You Offer

The Harvard Business Review divides products and services into four main categories:

  • Essentials are needed for basic survival or overall well-being 
  • Treats can be justified with an immediate purchase 
  • Postponables are desirable but can be reasonably put off
  • Expendables are considered unjustifiable or unnecessary

In times of uncertainty, small businesses need to consider consumers’ well-being and needs. It’s OK to reinvent your business to serve a growing demand for essential products and services while putting postponable and expendable products on hold for some time.

TIP: Increase Your Online Presence 

By leveraging digital channels such as social media and websites, small businesses can communicate directly and authentically with customers. In times of uncertainty, your customers will become more reliant on your communication to understand how your business fits into their lives. Meet them at the moment by using technology to tell stories that connect on an emotional level and help them to live better lives.

Want more tips on how to market a small business? 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.