If you halted marketing your business as a result of COVID-19, you’re definitely not alone. Many non-essential businesses were forced to make cuts in order to survive being closed for an extended period of time, and marketing likely fell victim to many of those cuts. But with non-essential businesses gradually being given the green light to reopen over the next few weeks, I recommend rethinking your marketing strategy in order to revitalize your business.
Here are my top 3 tips for picking up your marketing where you left off:
- Shift your brand message
So you’re one of the lucky businesses that’s been given the green light to reopen – that’s great news! One of the most important things you should be focusing on right now is shifting your brand message to one that’s focused on safety. Although social distancing restrictions are gradually being lifted, it doesn’t mean your customers will be flocking to your doorstep right away. In fact, customers may be apprehensive to fully integrate themselves back into society following the pandemic with the virus still lingering. As such, your priority should be telling your customers exactly what you intend to do to keep them safe. Of course, that means that you actually need to make changes to the way your business operates.
If you’ve made significant changes to incorporate new safety measures, you need to tell your customers. Are you limiting the amount of customers allowed in your store at once? Tell them. Have you installed physical barriers between staff and customers? Tell them. You’ll want to inform your customers of any changes you’ve made in every way possible. This includes signage at your location, announcements on social media and your website, and even updating your phone recording when customers call your business line. At this point, customers will be seeking transparency from the businesses they buy from.
- Work with a limited budget
If you’re getting back up and running from a prolonged hiatus, you likely won’t have the budget to execute all of the components of your marketing plan. As a business owner that was affected by COVID-19 myself, I’m here to tell you that’s okay. There are many things you can still do in order to promote your business while being conscious of your spending.
Word-of-mouth marketing will be your best friend at this time. Loyal customers will want to see your business thrive, even if they’re not in a position to help you financially. I recommend asking your customers to “like” and share your posts on social media, and/or leave you reviews on platforms such as Google and Yelp. This will provide validation of your business through a third party. You may even provide your customers with a small incentive to do so (i.e. by submitting a review, they’ll be entered into a draw for a $25 gift card). If you’re not already a part of community groups on Facebook or LinkedIn, I encourage you to join them. Invite members of your community to engage with your business, and do so in a manner that is compassionate. Many people know someone who either owns or works for a small business, and they recognize these businesses need help to survive.
- Convince customers to buy
As I previously mentioned, millions of Canadians have been affected financially by COVID-19. According to Statistics Canada, nearly 2 million jobs were lost in April alone. This means that people will likely be frugal with their money in the coming months. So what can you do to attract their business? Keeping in mind your own financial needs, consider offering special promotions or limited time offers that can attract new business. You may also want to start a referral or loyalty program for your current customers to help generate leads. Traditional marketing approaches aim to convince a customer that they want or need something, but in the current climate, this approach simply won’t be effective. As a small business owner, your best bet is to be honest with your customers about how important their business is to your survival.
If you’re a non-essential business that has not yet received approval to reopen, you should still be thinking about the points above – your time will come soon enough! And if you’re in the midst of preparing to reopen, I wish you the best of luck!
If you need assistance getting your marketing started again, or prioritizing which areas of marketing to focus on, our experts at CreativeWorks Marketing are here to help!