Selling through COVID-19

Strategies for Start Ups and Growing SMEs

Selling through COVID-19

In the face of the Pandemic, many large organisations are offering free services and access to ‘assist’ their customers through the tough times. The reality is that many of these offers are finely veiled marketing strategies aimed at converting their competitors customers into their own. 

As small businesses, some of us may be feeling guilt and shame of selling through hardship but please don’t give into these feelings and start giving away your time and efforts if it sacrifices your own livelihood.

We’re all going to pull through this together. We are all supporting each other in lots of ways. 

To help you keep things moving, the following are some sales and marketing strategies to sell with heart in the face of disaster.

Strategy #1 Offer Generous Payment Plans or Put Payments on Hold

Already embraced by our banks and larger service providers, if customers are looking to buy but on a tight budget for the next few months, this is ideal to retain your price integrity while supporting your customers to access your products and services. 
Service like AfterPay, OpenPay, ZipPay can help the immediate cashflow gap but you need to apply to use these services so they may have additional criteria in place during this time to ensure customers aren’t put in financial distress and unable to pay. 
Alternatively, online payment/merchant services like PayPal offer payments in ‘subscription’ format, allowing you to have automatic payments charged over a set number of periods. 

Strategy #2 Open up an Affiliate Marketing Program

Affiliate Marketing is a program set up to allow other businesses or individuals to sell your products or services on your behalf for a portion of the proceeds. Similar to commission but you don’t ‘hire’ them, they just elect to promote your products. Some people do this professionally through creating purpose built websites or other tactics. ClickBank is an affiliate marketing portal where you can offer promotions to on-sell, or choose products and services from other businesses to be Affiliates of. 
Alternatively, you can set up a program through the back end of your website connected to your shopping cart. Ask your website developer how easy it is to do this,or connect with one of our GSCC Members who do websites and ask for assistance. 

Strategy #3 Buy One, Give One – Customer Sponsors

If you know you have people wanting your products/services but really just have no way to afford it, perhaps offering a Buy One, Give One campaign will be a good match for you. 
This is simply about identifying customers who need your service but can’t pay, then promoting to other customers that, when they choose to shop with you, they will also be sponsoring another person/family in need (with no additional effort or charge). 
It’s definitely a campaign with heart but make sure your cashflow can cushion it and you have a clear way to identify those in need.

Strategy #4 Donate a Portion of Your Proceeds

A simple strategy to remind people that you want to support your local community. Start by choosing who you will donate to, a local homelessness support service, Lifeline, The Salvation Army, even another local business doing it really tough – then make sure your customers know that spending with you will support others too. 

Strategy #5 Offer Scholarships

If you’re a service based business then this might be just the ticket. Instead of just lowering your prices or giving things away in general, elect to offer Scholarships by way of application. Be sure to have clear rules and guidelines as to how you will assign them but make sure everyone knows that you’re providing this to those who may need it most at this time. 

Strategy #6 Competitions to Offer Relief

Competitions are a standard form of promotion, usually to win cash or some other desirable prize. But, during this environment, just winning a competition to have a bill paid or a grocery voucher or a week’s salary can be the draw card some are looking for. It’s not like that Overseas Holiday is going to be the carrot at the moment! So, if you’re thinking competitions, think about making it more personal and meaningful during this time. 

Strategy #7 Sell Through Grants and Tenders

There’s no better time to search for a Grant that might support a new customer type to access your products or services. Ipswich City Council have made this process easy through a dedicated metasearch portal to find local Grants. As a tip, I’d leave the search bar blank then filter from the full results list. 
Or you could look to sell through a Tender Application. Look for current Tenders through AusTender or VendorPanel (Note; these sites require registration).
Looking through larger businesses in Finance, Super, or Insurance, you may also find other Business Grants and programs offered directly to their communities. 

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