Even those of us who have been in business for many years have never experienced a time quite like this before.

At best, staff are being asked to work from home to keep operations somewhere near normal; at worst, companies are mothballing to preserve cash flow and, of course, stop their teams from spreading COVID-19, the deadly virus that has sparked the temporary mass shutdown of our global economy.

If you own and run a business, you’ll have a lot to think about right now. You may be tempted to shift your focus away from your design requirements and marketing strategies while you implement your contingency plan. But I can’t stress to you just how important it is to continue working on your business – not just in it.

Because if you pull the plug on your design and marketing work now, you’ll be virtually invisible when things start to recover. You’ll lose market share to the competitors who kept on keeping on. And it will be even harder to claw back that visibility when every single company in your sector is fighting hard for the attention of your potential clients.

What can you do now to ensure you’re in a strong position post-COVID-19?

It might be tough, but a little extra work right now could pay dividends in future months.

Here, I’ve put together 10 suggestions as to how you can keep your business moving during the COVID-19 crisis – and why following this vital design and marketing advice will stand you in better stead in the longer term.

1. Spruce up your logo

Has it been a while since you created your business logo? Are you concerned that this important little moniker doesn’t reflect your values, products or services anymore?

Either way, there’s never been a better time to bring it up to date!

Why should you bother? Because your logo is more than just an image. It’s a point of recognition for your clients; it communicates your credibility and authority; and, crucially, it can help to set you apart from your rivals.

There are plenty of online resources that can help you update, or perhaps even completely revamp, your company logo. If you’re keen to overhaul your brand logo yourself, make sure you don’t fall victim to these 5 common mistakes. And if you’d rather ask somebody like me to take a look at your artwork while things are quiet, you’ll want to know how to get the most from your chosen logo designer!

2. Revisit your brand identity

Your corporate identity defines you – and if it’s outdated or off kilter, it could be doing your brand image more harm than good. Bring it up to speed to avoid a lacklustre response to your business.

If you have been trading for a number of years but have never updated your brand guidelines, take the bull by the horns and revisit what your brand is all about. Your business will have evolved substantially in that time, much like the design trends and techniques that will have been used to create brand fundamentals like your logo, brand colours, typefaces and image styles, so it’s important that ensure you’re trading with an identity that accurately reflects your business and provides the flawless, contemporary visual experience your clients have come to expect from companies like yours.

If you need to go back to basics when it comes to building a brand, this article might help. You can also check out this actionable branding advice to help you take your business to the next level.

3. Give your website a facelift

Updating your website is probably at the bottom of your to-do list when you’re operating as normal, because client work always comes first, right? Use any extra time to make sure this vital platform is looking its best, ready for when your clients are ready to buy from you again.

Something as simple as switching up your banner images or changing the colour of a call to action button could have a profound effect on the way users interact with your online platform. Aside from making some much-needed design changes, it’s also worth making sure that your website is fully mobile responsive, and that it has been encrypted with an up-to-date SSL certificate; both of these are crucial in terms of security, UX and your site’s search engine rankings.

Need a hand? I’ve put together guides to website accessibility, mobile friendliness and web design trends for 2020.

Want to completely redo your website instead? Check out my web design services!

4. Update your website’s content

When was the last time you updated the wording on your web pages?

Have you even thought about optimising your website content for Google?

Complicated, confusing, or plain poorly written content can ruin your brand’s reputation in an instant – and copy that isn’t structured for SEO will do little to help you achieve better rankings in the major search engines.

When it comes to creating and updating website content, my advice would always be to bring in the professionals. I work with a fantastic team of web writers who excel in coming up with copy that informs, persuades and sells – plus, everything they create will include relevant targeted keywords to ensure it has the best chance of appearing in the organic results.

If you really must go it alone, get familiar with the ins and outs of keeping content creation in-house.

5. Review your website’s maintenance and support requirements

This is particularly important if you’re running a WordPress website, because these kinds of open source platforms need to be updated on a regular basis if they are to remain safe and secure. You’ll also need to check your support agreement to make sure that your site’s files are backed up on a regular basis, just in case the worst happens, and you temporarily lose your data.

If you’re concerned that your developer hasn’t been meeting your website’s needs – or you don’t yet have a support plan in place! – contact me today. I’ll happily talk you through your options and will be able to put together a bespoke package if needs be. I also offer comprehensive WordPress support solutions to companies that want to offload this work completely.

6. Get social!

People are going to be glued to their social media feeds while the pandemic plays out, so increase your social marketing efforts if you want to be visible during the worst of the crisis (and remembered when things have settled down).

You could even get ahead of the curve by putting together a full social media strategy for the year ahead. There are plenty of free planner templates on the web, and platforms like Hootsuite and Buffer enable you to schedule your social posts in advance so your social marketing needs are covered when you need to concentrate on servicing your clients again.

If you’re totally new to the idea of social marketing – or could do with a refresher! – check out this handy guide from Hootsuite on how to create a social media marketing plan.

When it comes to imagery, your banners and posts need to look slick and professional if you’re going to leave a great impression. I recently put together a blog that discusses the basics of designing graphics for social media.

7. Stay on top of your e-marketing campaign

Not only are your potential clients going to be checking their social media accounts more frequently – they’re also going to be refreshing their email inboxes more often. Stay front of mind by sending out frequent e-newsletters that contain content your audience will find of value.

You can use platforms such as Mailchimp and Constant Contact to design and share e-marketing updates. Be sure to signpost your subscribers towards your latest blogs, along with web pages that may interest them – and don’t forget to stick to GDPR rules when building and maintaining your email lists.

8. Write a batch of blogs

Every single business owner I know struggles to maintain their blog (unless they’re outsourcing this work, of course). But the trick is to put together a content calendar that covers any important, seasonal or evergreen topics, then set aside a few hours to batch-write your future posts whilst you’re in the ‘zone’.

This takes time, of course – but you may have more of this than usual if your regular work has been disrupted by COVID-19.

Carry out a quick Google search for ‘content calendar templates’ and you’ll be bound to find a format that suits you. And if you need any help putting together blog content that connects with your audience and showcases your company in the best possible way, you’ll find plenty of tips on business blogging here.

9. Review your print requirements

When I begin work with a client on a new print project, one of the first things I’ll do is check to see whether they’re getting a great deal from their suppliers. There’s nothing stopping you doing the same thing, regardless of the relationship you have with your print house. There’s no harm in getting quotes from other providers to see if savings could be made on your next print run. After all, in these uncertain times, every penny counts!

You could also carry out a full review of your print marketing strategy to determine which assets are supporting your message and bringing in business, and which of them are proving to be ineffective. I can help you do this, if you like. I have over two decades’ experience in designing and managing printed materials for my clients, and I can bring a fresh perspective to a campaign that may have gone stale.

10. Ask your clients for feedback

Approach your happy customers and see if they would be willing to write a testimonial for you. Asking for feedback in this way allows you to check in with existing or previous clients, too.

When you have between 5 and 10 reviews, save them in the same document and be sure to use them in your marketing content wherever possible (on your website, in your social posts and in your brochures, for example).

Better still, ask your customers to leave you a review via Google my Business (GmB). As long as you’ve got a GmB listing, all they’ll need to do is log in with a Gmail account, click ‘Write a review’ and leave their comments alongside their star rating. Not only will collecting GmB reviews help you to appear credible and trustworthy, it will also work wonders for your local SEO results!