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Marketing Tips for the COVID-19 Crisis

COVID-19 has created unprecedented challenges for small businesses everywhere. As business owners are concerned about the health of their families at home and employees at work, many also face impending financial struggles. Sales are taking a hit as brick-and-mortar companies are forced to cease or limit operations and customers become more judicious about spending money. Fortunately, there are some relief efforts underway (which you can learn about through SCORE’s Coronavirus Small Business Resource Hub to help struggling entrepreneurs. Also, there are some marketing strategies you can use to help keep your business on customers’ radar during the coronavirus pandemic.

7 Marketing Tips to Help Small Businesses Weather the COVID-19 Storm

1. Show Compassion and Humanity

Resist the urge to go full-on into “sales” mode. The coronavirus crisis is affecting people everywhere in a very personal way. If you ignore the situation at hand, your brand will appear tone-deaf and unconcerned. Rather than pushing your products and services, consider expressing your heartfelt concern and camaraderie. Then, tactfully sharing how you can still serve your customers’ needs during this time (or after any restrictions on your business have passed).

2. Don’t Let Your Business’s Social Media Presence Slip

While at home, waiting to go back to work after “stay at home” orders are lifted, people will be spending more time than ever on social media. Seize the opportunity this gives you to stay connected and raise awareness of your brand. As we mentioned above, show compassion and humanity in your status updates. Project how you relate to what your followers are going through, share positivity, and focus on how you can serve them to make their lives easier during these difficult times. If you have employees working from home, consider involving them in your posts. That will help to demonstrate the human element of your business and reinforce that your team is doing their part to flatten the curve through social distancing.

3. Freshen Up Your Website

As you experience some downtime, consider cleaning up and updating your website content. Especially pay attention to details that have changed as a result of the coronavirus.

  • Location closures
  • Hours of operation
  • Contact numbers
  • Ordering information
  • Response times

4. Proactively Communicate with Your Customers

Whether it’s by email, phone, social media messaging, or otherwise, reach out to customers to keep them informed about how COVID-19 is affecting your operations. Of course, also make sure you express your hope that they are staying safe and healthy. In all that you do during this time, showing your care and compassion will be critical.

5. Offer Your Services Virtually

If it’s a good fit for your type of business, consider going digital in how you deliver services to your customers. For example, personal trainers, physical therapists, and others are holding client sessions through apps like Zoom, Skype, Facetime, and Google Hangouts. First, make sure there are no legal restrictions that would prevent you from doing so legitimately.

6. Look for Ways to Do More for Less

Some social media and marketing platforms are offering programs to help business owners that are feeling the financial crunch of COVID-19. For example, Facebook has launched its Facebook Small Business Grants Program, which provides cash grants and ad credits to eligible small businesses. Check with the platforms you use to see if they will offer discounts or deals that can help you keep your marketing efforts going at a lower cost.

7. Reach Out to a SCORE Mentor for Ideas

Realize you don’t have to go it alone during this challenging time! A SCORE mentor can help you through it by offering fresh ideas, providing valuable feedback, and aligning you with resources. Contact us today to talk with a mentor about what you can do to survive and succeed!

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6 Goal-Setting Tips

As 2020 ramps up, now is the time to think about what you want your small business to accomplish before 2021. But goal-setting (and hence, goal-achieving) can fall flat if you don’t approach it without a plan.

Let’s explore some “goals” to consider for your goal-setting activities.

Six Tips to Help Small Business Owners Set Goals that Matter

  1. Focus on what’s critical to your business’ success.

Having too many goals can be overwhelming, making it difficult to concentrate on any of them effectively. And, setting arbitrary goals that won’t make a difference to your bottom line will create meaningless busywork. Before you sit down to set your goals, think carefully about what really matters and can make a difference to the health of your business.

  1. Make sure your goals are specific and measurable.

Vague goals won’t do your business any favors. For example, “reduce operating expenses” leaves things wide open for interpretation. On the other hand, “Reduce office supply costs by 10 percent” provides a specific and measurable goal.

  1. Make sure your goals are attainable.

Don’t chase unicorns. You should have to work to reach your goals, but if they’re so far out there that there’s nearly no chance of achieving them, you’ll set yourself up for failure. Be realistic and reasonable.

  1. Break things down.

Setting an annual numerical goal can be helpful. However, it may seem impossible to reach that lofty number in the early months of the year when you’re starting at ground zero. Consider breaking yearly goals down into monthly—or even weekly—targets to put them into a shorter-term perspective. For example, an annual goal of “add 100 new prospective customers as connections on LinkedIn” may seem daunting. But when distilled down into a weekly goal of adding two new prospects as contacts per week, reaching the annual goal becomes far less intimidating.

  1. Create a strategy for achieving your goals.

Create a roadmap for what you and others must do to meet your goals. What has to happen daily, weekly, and quarterly to get you to the finish line? Create to-do lists to help keep you and your employees on track.

  1. Set time aside for assessing your situation.

Carve out time monthly or at least quarterly to review whether you’re on target to meet your goals. Are stakeholders following through on their responsibilities? By monitoring your progress regularly, you’ll know if (and why) you’re veering off-course. Then, you can evaluate options for getting back on the right path before it’s too late.

SCORE Can Help You Reach Your Goals

SCORE mentors offer objective guidance and insight to startups and existing small businesses of all sizes and kinds. Contact us for help in taking an objective look at your business as you set your goals for 2020.

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Marketing Trends and Tips for 2020

2020 is fast approaching! That means it’s time to tune into marketing strategies and tactics that can boost your business in the coming year. Of course, there’s a wealth of information online, but only limited time to research it all.

To help you stay on top of the latest best practices and trends, we’ve curated a list of helpful marketing articles below.

Marketing Wisdom to Help Your Small Business Succeed in the New Year

Marketing (all-encompassing)

Marketing Trends for 2020: Here’s What Will Happen That Nobody is Talking About –  Neil Patel, co-founder of NP Digital, recently published this insightful article. In the article, he describes what he sees coming down the pike in 2020.

4 Key Digital Marketing Trends – Rieva Lesonsky, CEO of GrowBiz Media and blog contributor at SCORE.org, touches on four evolving areas of digital marketing. You may want to consider implementing them to improve your chances of getting noticed online.

Blogging

What Can You Blog About When All the Good Ideas Are Already Taken? – If you have a business blog, you know the struggle of consistently creating content. In this article, ProBlogger’s Darren Rowse shares six tips to help you never run out of fresh ideas.

Guest Blogging: A Step-by-Step Guide – Guest blogging on reputable industry websites can expand awareness of your business to more of your target audience. This article by Ann Gynn, editor of the Content Marketing Institute Blog, walks you through the process.

Content Marketing

8 Content Trends for 2020 – This article shares the Convince & Convert Consulting team’s insight about what businesses should make their top priorities in the New Year.

5 Big Content Trends for 2020 – Search Engine Journal also offers valuable food for thought about what businesses need to consider when creating content in 2020.

Email Marketing

9 Email Marketing Best Practices for 2020 – Social Media Today provides a helpful list of what to do to make your email marketing efforts pay off.

Three Email Trends Retailers Should Keep in Mind for 2020 – eMarketer highlights three top-of-mind trends that will shape email marketing best practices in the year to come.

Influencer Marketing

Why the Future of Influencer Marketing Will Be Organic Influencers – Influencer marketing is evolving. In this article, Social Media Today explains more about the power shift from traditional influencers to organic influencers.

What Will Influencer Marketing Look Like in 2020? – HubSpot’s Kristen Baker shares interesting stats about influencer marketing. Also, she offers tips for working with different types of influencers.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

11 Deadly SEO Mistakes to Avoid in 2020 – Often, avoiding worst practices is the ideal way to make sure you are doing the right things. This Search Engine Watch article tells you what NOT to do to improve your visibility in Google searches.

The Definitive Guide to SEO in 2020 – Backlinko has developed a comprehensive guide packed with SEO trends and tips for improving your search rankings.

Social Media

6 Key Social Media Trends to Watch in 2020 – What will make your social media presence stand out in 2020? In this post, Lucy Rendler-Kaplan discusses the trends shaping what businesses will need to do in the New Year.

Social Media Trends for 2020 and Beyond – This Influencer Marketing Hub article shares eight social trends you should expect and prepare for.

Next Steps for a Merry and Bright Future for Your Business

Digging into the resources we’ve shared above is a great first step toward making 2020 your most successful year yet. Next, take action with the help of SCORE! Check out our upcoming workshops to learn more. Or, visit our site to request a SCORE mentor. Our mentors have the knowledge and experience to guide you in all aspects of starting and running your small business.

man in suit - half soldier uniform and half business suit

Six Small Business Startup Resources for Veterans

According to a Small Business Administration (SBA) report, veteran-owned firms represent 9.1 percent of all U.S. businesses. They employ more than five million people and have an annual payroll of $195 billion. Indeed, veteran entrepreneurs have a positive impact on our economy.

In efforts to support veteran entrepreneurs—the SBA, SCORE, and other organizations have developed resources targeted to veterans’ small business startup needs. In this post, we’ll highlight some of the websites, programs, and organizations available to help veterans launch and run their businesses successfully.

Resources for Veteran Business Owners

1. SCORE

In the “Resources for Veteran Entrepreneurs” section of the SCORE website, you’ll find webinars, blog posts, and articles that are focused on a broad range of topics. From funding to franchising to transitioning from a military career to entrepreneurship, there are ideas and information to help prepare veterans for business ownership.

SCORE Maine and other SCORE chapters across the nation offer workshops, roundtables, seminars, and other programs to help entrepreneurs start and run their businesses. All SCORE chapters also offer free mentoring, which can be especially helpful as veterans navigate the opportunities and challenges that come with starting and running a business.

2. SBA’s Office of Veterans Business Development

The OVBD works to maximize the “availability, applicability, and usability” of small business programs for veterans. The OVBD has a Veterans Business Outreach Center Program, designed to make business development services available locally across the United States. Veterans Business Outreach Centers provide services such as business workshops (e.g., Boots to Business), entrepreneurial counseling, business plan preparation, feasibility analyses, and mentorship.

The OVBD website also shares information about funding resources, veteran entrepreneurship training programs, and more.

In addition, the SBA has a program for service-disabled veteran-owned businesses that want to procure federal contracts. The Service-Disabled Veteran-owned Small Businesses program allows agencies to set aside contracts specifically for veteran-owned companies.

3. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Veteran Entrepreneur Portal

The Veteran Entrepreneur Portal gives access to various business tools and services. It links to websites and information with details about government programs and services created for veterans.

4.  National Veteran Small Business Coalition

The NVSBC is a non-profit trade association that advocates for policies that encourage veteran-owned businesses’ participation in federal contracting opportunities. Veterans that join the NVSBC gain access to resources and information to help them compete in the federal marketplace.

5. Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship

V-Wise is an organization open to all women veterans, active-duty female service members, and partners of veterans and active service members. It offers entrepreneurial courses and resources in cities across the United States.

6. Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities

Developed by the EBV Foundation, this educational program is offered at various universities in the United States. It provides training in entrepreneurship and small business management to post-9/11 veterans with service-related disabilities. The EBV Foundation provides grants to graduates of the program, helps with business plan development, and provides other services to support disabled veterans in their entrepreneurial efforts.

Your First Step to Starting a Veteran-Owned Business

SCORE mentors have knowledge and experience in starting businesses in a broad range of industries. They can provide valuable insight to help you successfully launch your veteran-owned business. Make SCORE the first step in your journey to entrepreneurship. Contact us today!