Businesses in quarantine: How to be an entrepreneur in a pandemic

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For many, it might seem counterintuitive to start a business in a pandemic. One might even be called crazy for even thinking about it; but with the closure of everyone’s go-to stores and restaurants, people have turned to their local online communities for their supply of everything. From homemade baked goods to furniture to accessories, people have been trying their hand at entrepreneurship for the first time – all online. 

For the uninitiated, however, it can take a while to get used to. With social media being the minefield that it is, the steps you take can help bring you to astronomical heights or deep lows. Especially with social distancing measures in place, the world of the digital can be leagues away from the average mom-and-pop neighborhood store that many are used to. Because of that, we’ve put together a guide on how to market yourself and make the most out of your business in a pandemic so you can succeed

Social media is your best friend – use it

In today’s age, a brand or a business without social media presence is unheard of. But what many new businesses venturing online might find is that just because you have a social media page does not mean it will attract customers. In fact, without the proper finetuning, it may actually be a deterrent to your budding business. In the same way that a nicely decorated cafe might encourage more customers to come in and partake in your products, a well designed page with various collaterals can help potential clients to trust your product based on how it looks online. In contrast, a page with virtually nothing to show for may not garner as many clicks or views, even if they had great products and a healthy track record.

A primary step that you need to take after deciding what you want to do is to figure out who your audience will be and where they will be. Much like the location of a physical store, the people visiting your page and inquiring about your services is very much dependent on what social media platform you use. More family-centered businesses may look to Facebook’s Marketplace, for example, while the younger crowds veer toward the aesthetic designs of Instagram. 

By determining who you want to sell to, you’ll next want to narrow down what Big Idea you want to sell. Marketing products, after all, is more than just selling physical items, rather you want to be able to sell an idea for them. This may be the fabulous and beautiful life that makeup and fashion gives you, or the newest app or gadget that will make your life easy and breezy. Important questions worth asking are then: What kind of life do you want your consumers to live? What sort of feeling do you want to elicit out of them, whoever they may be? Through understanding and crafting a Big Idea for your business, you’ll be able to create a space for yourself in the consumer’s mind that will turn your business into something much more special than any other individuals merely selling another general item on Facebook Marketplace. 

Set your expectations for growth 

Many brands over the first years have strived toward becoming viral. The clicks and mentions can easily catapult anybody from relative obscurity to being the next brand everyone wants to try. But before you start making viral memes, it’s helpful to go back and remember who your audience is and where you want yourself to go. It’s important to take note that most successful viral efforts are a product of organic relationships to consumers and are largely community produced. 

So instead of doing gimmicky social media collaterals for growth, such as in-trend memes and casual toned copywriting, it might be worth looking into focusing on a brand identity that is uniquely your own. This will largely help you create a clean image that will be more palatable to consumers of all kinds. 

By first figuring out your goals, you can take the time to test what kind of campaigns you want to do. Using various tools, such as Google Analytics, you can better understand who’s interested in your products and where you might be lacking. This will allow you to more strategically put into practice what content does well and what doesn’t for your future campaigns with no cost at all.

Through analytics, you are also in a better position to do more than just plan your campaigns. With the use of demographics, you are able to understand better what kind of tone and messaging is successful for you. A good example of this would be to check in what countries you are most popular. If you were talking to largely Filipinos, per example, you would be more successful in using Tagalog or Taglish, as opposed to English. Analytics used in this way can better inform the pivots you can take in your marketing strategy and what kind of steps your brand can make.  Especially for new businesses, careful strategizing can be particularly important in jumpstarting the awareness people have in your brand. 

Social media, emphasis on the social 

The most beneficial part of social media is the people. Unlike traditional businesses who depend on physical location to contact a range of possible clients, entrepreneurs online have an easily accessible and direct link to those they sell to. This sort of connection gives brands the opportunity to humanize themselves and allow their consumers to get to know them more than just a profile selling products. Especially in such a precarious time, talking to your clients and getting to know them might be the next big step that will allow you to build your business and get them what they need. 

According to Forbes Magazine, through building communication with your consumers through simple things, such as replying to their comments, brands are at a better chance to be perceived as authentic. With the right tone, you can easily win over people with a marketing strategy that reminds people that you are just like them – a person trying to survive this pandemic. Remember that your brand is made of real people at its core, from employees to business owners, and that might just be its biggest selling point. 

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