I had the pleasure of sitting down to discuss small business marketing during the COVID-19 crisis with community and business, disaster mitigation and recovery expert, Leann Hackman-Carty, founder of MYD.Global. Leann is an entrepreneur, YouTube host, author, and twice named as WXN’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada.
At the time of this interview, we are eight weeks into the 2020 COVID-19 quarantine, here in the U.S. and Canada. Leann and I discussed how small businesses can adapt via social media marketing. Listen here or read the transcript below.
Leann Hackman-Carty 0:02
Hi, welcome to another episode of MYD Global. I’m your host Leanne Hackman-Carty In today’s episode I’m speaking with Lynn McGinnis who is a social media expert and marketing guru. I’ve been working with Lynn on helping promote my book Master Your Disaster, but I wanted to talk to her today about what she’s seeing from small businesses during the time of COVID. What are some things that are working for them. Some advice for them, some free tools and resources that they could use right now, for their marketing efforts.So stay tuned.
Leann Hackman-Carty 0:42
Lynn, how are you doing today?
Lynn McGinnis 0:45
I am well. How are you? It’s good to see you.
Leann Hackman-Carty 0:49
You too. So you know what today before we get started, maybe just tell the viewers a little bit about your background.
Lynn McGinnis 0:56
Okay, thanks. I’m Lynn McGinnis. I am a 30-year veteran of small business marketing and owner of LynnMcG. I’ve worked in many industries, including ad agencies, healthcare, construction, manufacturing, IT, STEM, and most recently in publishing. I actually narrowed the focus of my business to publishing a few years ago because I believe that most authors don’t have what they need out there in terms of marketing support. But the foundation for every marketing, every small business marketing plan is the same, regardless of the industry, and I look at this as an author being a small business. So the difference is in the audience that they’re trying to reach and the message that they’re sharing.
Leann Hackman-Carty 1:45
So what are some of the things as far as the foundation, what do you think that small businesses should have in place and many don’t.
Lynn McGinnis 1:56
I think that it’s much more simple than, sometimes people realize, especially if you’ve been in business a while. Digital marketing is the foundation for every small business marketing plan. It is very simple, an email address, a Google My Business listing the appropriate social media channels, not every social media channel or website. That’s it. These tools provide centralized communication with customers and potential customers in the best of circumstances. But today, during a global pandemic something we’ve never seen before. Maintaining consistent communication has never been more important.
Leann Hackman-Carty 2:40
So what are you seeing out there that if you’re looking at various businesses that are marketing right now trying to be seen, because a lot of them their storefronts they can’t be open, so what what are some examples of some good marketing you’re seeing for businesses in this COVID time.
Lynn McGinnis 2:59
So, recently something that was brought to my attention was, obviously salons and dog groomers they’ve been shut down. I saw on Facebook a groomer, who I wasn’t even aware of, was sharing about how they were open, they were able to be open the state announced that they could open with limitations. And they were actually sharing in Facebook group, so not even someone that I follow. And they were doing everything right. They were sharing what was going, what was going to happen. That they have limited hours, they have limited number of people that they need to have in their stores, limited number of appointments. They shared how they would, how they would keep everybody safe they talked about safe distance, and they talked about wearing masks. Everything they knew they needed to do and they were reaching out to their customers and beyond using social media.
So, what I realized as I was seeing this was that I hadn’t heard from my dog groomer, my dog groomer has been around for a long time, very successful business. And I’ve talked to her about this, she has maintained her business exclusively by word of mouth marketing, which is great. She’s a great dog groomer she does very well she’s very successful. She has no digital footprint. None whatsoever. So, what does that mean, that’s no email address. No Google My Business profile. So when you go to Google her you can’t find her. No social media channel, their website she’s nothing, you literally have to drive by or know somebody who knows her to get a phone number.
Lynn McGinnis 4:50
Now, no one was prepared for the shutdown. No one This was unprecedented for so many businesses and we know with preparedness you know that these plans are so necessary but so many small businesses, this was, this is something that has reached a level that no one could have anticipated. So, the small businesses that weren’t prepared for a shutdown may not be prepared to open and simply in terms of communicating with their clients.
The business that has a presence will be able to reach out via social media, maybe by email. Maybe they’re using a CRM and they’re doing some email marketing, the business that doesn’t have these things in place, won’t be able to do that, they, they won’t have the means to reach their clients and what’s going to happen is, they’re going to have to wait for their clients to call, and they’re going to have to explain repeatedly the processes. Now, I know my dog groomer will be back. I know she you know she’ll be okay but this is this is concerning, but the thing is that there are things that they can do right now to fix this.
Leann Hackman-Carty 5:58
Yeah, it’s so nice if people go into small businesses and have this foundation in place, what are the kinds of things they could do immediately or for very little money and in the near future.
What can small businesses do today?
Lynn McGinnis 6:09
Most of the things they can do are free, and that’s what’s really great for small business. So, if you don’t have these tools, established, he best thing to do is to begin with a free email from Google. You can simply be your firstname.lastname@example.org – easy. And with that you get a limited number of Google suite products the G Suite product. And with that, then as soon as you have an email address, you can set up the appropriate social media channels. I always think it’s a great idea for any business, any small business to use Facebook because today we use Facebook Like we used to use the Yellow Pages the phonebook where people will look for a business they check to make sure businesses legitimate they’re still in business to see what their offerings are and maybe even to see pricing because Facebook gives us that ability to, to provide all of that information. If possible, they can set up a website. There are lots of great options out there. If they have a little bit more money for $5 or $6 a month I think you can get a custom email address. And that’s, that’s another option where you get also, you get the full G Suite products if you went the Google route or the free Microsoft products.
And at the very least if you’re in a creative business, let’s say, a hair salon. A dog groomer construction landscaping, Facebook and Instagram are great because it gives you the ability to show off your work, and they work hand in hand because Facebook owns Instagram. So what’s great about that is that you can actually set up your Instagram account to connect to your Facebook page, and for those small businesses let’s say a landscaper. They’re out there, they’re allowed to work right now. During the COVID quarantine. And they can let their customers know that they’re out there working, taking pictures showing them what they’re doing, sharing them to Instagram. And it’s a simple click at the check of a box to connect your Instagram page to your Facebook page and one click shares it to both platforms. Yeah, it’s really easy and those tools are free.
Leann Hackman-Carty 8:33
That’s great. I think there are you know these little things that you can do if you can’t get out there and physically have a space open or talk to your customers at least you can talk to them digitally before, before we wrap up then is there anything else you can think of that you wanted to mention that perhaps I didn’t ask about,
Lynn McGinnis 8:51
Well, I want to just explain a little bit about what you can do because it’s really likely that you do have a presence if you’re watching here, which is great.
I’ve seen some people who are kind of waiting out this crisis and not communicating and I think that’s a mistake. I think that a hard sell, that the messaging can be uncomfortable. And I agree that that we should be really careful about our messaging.
I know that there’s, a standard there’s this 80/20 rule that most social media marketers go by where 80% of posts that they share will be encouraging, edifying, uplifting, funny. Things like that and 20% are selling. I think we need to be really careful about that message right now. I think we need to kind of read the room, you know, and really, it’s okay. For instance, um, I have a friend who has a salon and so we’ve been sharing funny memes about hair, you know. Begging people not to use box dye. And what’s happened is we’ve gained these great conversations and we’re talking and letting people know, we’re still here we’re coming back. It’s also a great way to to communicate with, employees – you’re safe, we’re coming back. We’re going to be back. We’re here.
Lynn McGinnis 10:18
I think that that people should remember to continue to be real. Never before have our personal lives and our professional lives overlapped, the way it has right now on social media. You see people being vulnerable, sharing stories. You know, funny stories on homeschooling right now because that’s not easy. You’re seeing people with little ones in middles in elementary school and, you know, middle school it’s hard. I’m sharing funny things that happened during Zoom calls, you know, waiting for the dog to bark, the doorbell ring and all the funny things that happen. Those are good to share, and it shows us, it shows everyone we’re human. The thing is is that right now, we’re in a period of time we’ve never been before. This is completely uncharted territory for all of us. This is unprecedented. And I think it’s really important that, because this is one thing that has really bonded us in all of humanity.
I think that we need to remember that, and that our messaging can reflect that. It’s okay. So I think the one thing we should consider is how will your business be remembered through this COVID crisis.
Leann Hackman-Carty 11:39
Yes, because people will remember when or if you’re just trying to take my money. No, exactly. Yes. I know you’ve provided some links that I’ll put in the description below, so people can find out more information but thank you. I know that businesses right now, they’re looking for anything they can to maintain their operations and make sure that they’re here tomorrow. So thank you very much for your advice and take care.