Maintaining business presence online

SUMMER vacation, food trip at a mall or your favorite restaurant, a quick fix at a salon or barbershop, TGIF session at a bar or even having your laundry done at a shop – all these were cancelled and/or taken away from us temporarily by an invisible and tiny yet deadly virus.

The coronavirus disease pandemic has disrupted almost everything one can ever think of. And one of the most challenged and affected sectors are the small businesses or the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises.

For PAR Travel and Tours general manager Pia Lourdes Partoza-Montano she said January to March were supposedly their business’ peak season but since the threat of Covid-19, travel bookings hit all-time low.

“We do not have any transaction since (the) second week of March,” she shared.

Joenar Bryan Herrera Ponce, owner of 4th Street Café in Davao City temporarily closed the café, even its take out services. He said takeouts support only five to 10 percent of their whole business.

“We rely on the students and offices to sustain our business. A café is good for dine-ins. We are just waiting for the quarantine to be lifted, as of now we are just supplying coffee beans,” he said adding he also can’t risk the health of his employees.

While for Jay-al Llamas, owner of The Racks Garden Bar and Grill, he said, their food delivery service is still open. However, from 47 staff, only seven people remain working.

“I am currently asking around if there is somewhere we can apply loan from made especially for MSMEs,” he said. Llamas also owns a resort along Bukidnon-Davao Road (Buda)- La Maria Hardin. “We suspended operations since it is now prohibited,” he added.

These are just some of the stories from severely-hit businesses caused by this pandemic. But there is still something they can do to at least lessen the bleed and soften the blow - online marketing. With most customers now hooked online following the government’s home quarantine order, MSMEs should strengthen their online presence for continuity.

Facebook released last week five simple ways how MSMEs can manage through and build resilience during the Covid-19 outbreak:

1. Keep yourself informed and safe

Stay up to date by following credible, official sources like the World Health Organization (WHO) and your local government health department so you can respond quickly to changes that could affect you or your customers. Follow World Health Organization, Department of Health, and other credible media organization like SunStar Davao on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram.

2. Stay in touch with your customers

Proactively share important information with your customers using email, your website, Facebook Page, Instagram Business Profile, or however you typically connect. Remember that you can pin important posts to the top of your Facebook Page for quick viewing. You might include information about the measures you’re taking to make your premises or products safe, or how you will handle customer inquiries if there are expected services delays.

You can also update your Page hours to show your customers how and when you’re available for business. Notify customers of any changes or modifications to your availability or services by updating your Page Info and selecting Open With Service Changes or Temporarily Closed, depending on your situation.

3. Try hosting online events

In case you need to postpone or cancel any planned events as a result of the outbreak, try hosting a webinar or organize live sessions on social channels such as Facebook or Instagram.

4. Prepare a customer service plan

In order to be responsive and transparent with your customers during this challenging moment, prepare for incoming questions and requests. Consider drafting templated responses for your emails or set up instant-reply messages with information you expect your customers will be looking for. Connect with your customers for free in real time using Instagram Direct Messages, Messenger or setting up a WhatsApp Business profile.

5. Provide a list of FAQs

Prepare a list of responses for questions your customers are likely to ask, and provide as much detail and reassurance as possible in your answers.


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