The world is a strange place at the best of times but right now … it all seems a little too strange for comfort. Big businesses are closing their shops, restaurants and offices. Staff are being encouraged to work from home. Self isolation is in full swing and social media is full of people complaining about those flaunting the rules. Panic buying is now the norm and the supermarkets have had to create dedicated time for NHS and more vulnerable shoppers to visit in private.
The world seems to be in crisis mode and you are asking what does this mean for you and your business? Should you continue to market what you offer? Maybe, you should switch to an online offering and discount your prices? Or perhaps you should do nothing and wait and see how the next few weeks pan out because, let’s face it, your customers have other things on their mind and don’t want to hear from you?
Let’s face it … there is a time when your customers will naturally want to buy from you (i.e. a time for you to sell) and a time when you’re not their top priority (i.e. a time for you to relation build). How you communicate with your customers right now will strongly depend on the type of business you run. If you provide essential products, like toilet paper, pasta and snacks, then you can easily sell what you offer.
If you provide other products or are a service based business then you are probably finding that customer demand has decreased (for the time being) so you should focus more on relationship building in your marketing.
Whatever you do – you should continue to be present, share valuable content and communicate with your audience.
Here are my top tips for marketing during this difficult time:
- Work hard to support your existing clients
Many of your clients weren’t expecting this social isolation and will be as confused as you. They might have been half way through a class programme with you, half way through a coaching programme, visiting your cafe regularly and happy with your product / service.
In the short term – work out how you can adjust your existing offer to serve them online. This can be online classes, delivery instead of sitting in etc. But only do this as a short term option.
Creating an online business is part of a long term strategy and you would always want to build a bigger online following before switching to an ‘online business’. Alongside serving your customers online – commit to adding real value on social media, on your website and through your newsletter so you build your core audience. This means that if this situation continues and you decide to provide more online offerings – you have a larger audience to market too. Failure to do this will mean that you are telling your existing customers that there is a cheaper alternative available and they may shop around.
2. Don’t ignore the obvious…. how you communicate
The truth here is that your customer is scared. They are living through a period that will go down in history and the tone of your communication and marketing should reflect this. Don’t become a tabloid paper and participate in the doom and gloom but ensure you acknowledge the reality of what is happening. Be the real you and convey your empathy and sincerity.
Are you a mum who has customers who are also mums? Talk about the reality of being ‘stuck’ at home with your children and how you understand the beauty of getting this time to bond with them combined with the challenges of spending this much time alone with your children. Provide genuine value on how they can have fun with their children, maintain their sanity and also enjoy this trying time.
Do you sell what is considered a necessity? If so, you should actively market this but convey how you are still a genuine and caring business who is not trying to take advantage of this situation – rather do your best to meet the increased demand and help your customers in their time of need.
Don’t ignore what is going on and push for a sale at a time when your customer doesn’t want to buy from you. Ignoring what is going on in your customers life will show you don’t understand them as well as you should.
3. Embrace your authenticity
In marketing – we are constantly told to use professional images, invest in professional videos and this can delay us in taking action. We feel we have to have this perfectly created brand to be a success. The reality for your customer is that they are trapped in doors and cannot relate with these beautiful images and videos. This is a great time to embrace the ‘done and not perfect’ mantra and record some lives in your jammies, share photos of your messy sitting room, record your video content in your dining room and use zoom calls in place of a swanky mastermind.
Don’t wait for perfect conditions worthy of a vogue cover and connect with your customers by sharing the real you in your marketing!
4. If it’s not the right time to sell…. SERVE
In business there is a time to sell and a time to relationship build and for many of you – now is not the right time to sell. Take some time to brainstorm and think of all the ways you can add value to your customers and potential customers.
– Free reports
– Online challenges
– Make them laugh
– Online taster sessions of your classes
If you can add value in these tough times and remain front and centre in your customers mind … they will be more inclined to purchase from you when this madness is all over.
5. Adjust your services and help people learn, grow and stay fit and healthy in isolation
This challenging period of huge change is, for many, as if the universe is creating space for them to get fit and healthy, up skill and reconnect with themselves. If you can help your customers do any of these – start to grow your online following and relationship build first and foremost and be ready to present these new followers with an offer when the time is right.
6. Build your community
In times of physical isolation …. provide social connection. Use your influence online to build a community of likeminded individuals. Offer them the much needed connection they are no longer getting in the outside world.
This might last longer than expected but it won’t last forever. Give yourself a break, take the time you need to your new reality and then knuckle down and serve your customers.
ps – if I can help you in any way during this difficult time – drop me an e-mail on firstname.lastname@example.org