In times of crisis, our true colors show. We can curl up in a fetal position, ignore the trials and tribulations and run scared. Or you can rise to the challenge, think positively and look for ways to keep things not only afloat, but thriving. It CAN be done. But it’s a mindset, and it’s actually a lot harder than ignoring this moment and wringing your hands.
Particularly, now is not the time to stop your marketing efforts. Do your messages need to change? YES! Do you need to think about every single piece of communication that you put out there? DEFINITELY! Do you need to look at cost-effective ways to measure? OF COURSE! But don’t just stop cold turkey. Why? Because once the pandemic is done and we can get back to “normal,” your customers will either be there waiting for you or will have taken this opportunity to move on to a newer/better situation.
Now is the time to focus on those relationships. This is the time to crank out content like you never have before. It’s time to shine and become the support system you need to be for your clients, customers, partners and employees.
This is particularly important to those businesses who are completely shut down right now. Think dentists, hair stylists, event planners, the list goes on. Use this time to better connect with your clients. Keep them posted on what is happening with your team, provide them a tip of the day, engage them on social media. Do what it takes (content and lots of it, FYI) to keep them in a relationship with you. If you don’t, it becomes way too easy for them to consider a different situation when things are up and running.
Here are 10 ideas (brought to you by really smart biz owners) to continue to build those relationships and ensure you’ll have clients when this is all said and done.
- Go virtual now. OK, so your doors are locked and no one is coming inside, but what can you do virtually to keep your clients informed, entertained and curious? Here’s a great example of a Little Rock salon, Red Beauty Lounge, that has posted daily on their social media 10- to 12-minute tutorials on all different topics relevant to their audience (blow dry techniques, up-do tricks, you name it).
- If you have a distinct point-of-view when it comes to anything going on in the world today, get it out there quickly! Blogs are great, and you can always post that same blog as an article on your LinkedIn page. It’s a quick way to start building thought leadership when you have more time on your hands than usual. Mitchell Williams Law is doing an amazing job of posting numerous daily blogs from attorneys who have a wealth of knowledge on timely topics of concern. They are positioning themselves as go-to attorneys during a time when many businesses are looking for quick and smart answers.
- Schedule virtual hangouts and answer questions from your customers and interested people. Zoom is a quick and easy platform to use, and you can easily maneuver between who is speaking and answer questions in the chat box. See what Chipotle is doing with their customers – hosting daily get-togethers complete with celebrities and 3,000+ fans.
- Use this time to bring back crowd favorites that maybe were seasonal or can be quickly adapted for the situation. Community Bakery in Little Rock did this when they realized customers (many who are parents of young children) were working from home with kids who needed to be entertained. They brought back their popular cookie decorating kits from Christmas time and have adapted them for a fun “quarantine” spring cookie kit.
- Do something for your community. Your customers will take notice if they feel like your focus is in the right place. We absolutely love the work CustomXM is doing for free right now. The printing company has been working overtime to print free banners for local restaurants that tout their curbside pickup and delivery services. It’s an awesome (and needed) freebie for these restaurants right now. And guess what? Who is the first person those business owners are going to call when business is back booming and they have printing needs?
- Pivot – and FAST! Get creative on how you can adapt to the situation and still keep things going. Jeannie Guthrie of Zig Zag Studio quickly figured out how to continue bringing in revenue even though all her in-person art classes are canceled. She is opening the studio for individual families to use for two hours at a time. Her customers love her for offering a welcome escape, and she continues to be able to charge for studio use.
- Have you been running social media ads? If so, definitely continue, and if you are new to it, now’s the time to jump in. With more people at home in front of their screens, it’s a great opportunity for businesses to use digital marketing to connect with customers. And from what we’re reading and seeing, cost-per-clicks have decreased across all verticals, so you’re getting a good deal too. So when others are pulling back, you can be capitalizing on their lost market share.
- Keep doing what you do, but put a social distancing twist to it. Check out what Amy Carper with Carper Creative Photography is doing with her #frontstepproject. Amy’s specialty is fabulous family photos, so she is offering a quick (and safe) shoot from your front porch. She understands her audience enough to know that a) they are all together, which is sometimes difficult to make happen, b) people are anxious for a reason to get out of their PJs, and c) it’s beautiful Spring time weather and people don’t want to miss out on that treasured family photo session.
- Scrap your business plan and start over. The entrepreneurs at Trailblazer Roasting Company started their new coffee business just weeks before the pandemic hit. The company’s focus is selling wholesale coffee to clients, such as gyms (closed), large work places (closed) and churches (closed). Not anymore. The startup quickly pivoted to sell individual retail bags of coffee and committed to same-day delivery to accomodate all those workers at home and in need of daily coffee fixes.
- Listen to your audience. Follow the trends. Get in the conversation. My favorite clothing boutiques (national and local) are pushing the goods that are in line with quarantine (comfy jogger sets and blouses that are perfect for Zoom calls – Business on top, party on bottom!). They are heavy on Instagram as their users are spending lots more time there, and the platform is extremely visual. Think through the day-to-day life of your clients right now and speak to them where they are with what they want to hear. E Leigh’s is doing a great job of consistently asking their audiences on Instagram what they are wanting to see as far as clothes, tips and fashion. And the company even launched a new brand ambassador program to capitalize on all those eyes scrolling through Insta.