As the current global health situation lands at our doors, many of us will be spending a lengthy period at home.  The positive effect of this is people will be spending more time online than ever before. Your customers will be researching and peering through your online shop window.  As marketeers, we cannot stress how important it is to maintain a ‘business as usual’ marketing approach during this time – we’ve got your back with this – and as well as having your online presence readily available, now is the time to get creative and maximise business opportunities where you can.

Here are some tips on how you can take a proactive approach to keeping your customers engaged with you, and your company “open for business” online…

The power of engagement

First off, let customers know you are up and running and keen to meet their needs as best you can.  With more people working from home and isolating themselves over the coming weeks, there will undoubtedly be a surge in people searching and shopping online, and you need them to be able to find you.  One of the best ways to communicate with them is via your social media channels.  It’s a great way of showing customers (rather than just announcing) that you are open.  Why not press the record button and make a short video of you at work, or take them behind the scenes of your business, you could even have a go at posting a Facebook/Instagram story.  It is also a good way of reassuring customers on the safety precautions you are taking when seeing customers and what services you might be offering that are helping to reduce the physical contact you have with them.

Be creative – go above and beyond

Now is the time to think outside the box.  Consider offering your customers something new and show them you care.  We are already seeing lots of creative thinking and random acts of kindness within our community (our lovely Project Manager, Andrea, kick started our week here in the office by treating us all to a stack of croissants from Daisy Grey in a bid to stay positive and support a local business where possible).  Here are some other great examples to get your creative juices flowing:

  • Think about how you can get all the information you need electronically.
    Are you able to quote for work without having to see the customer?  1st Scenic for example, are gathering all the information they need from customers via their online contact form and using technology like Google Earth to provide the most accurate quote they can.
  • Touchstone Lofts (like us) are carrying out all their meetings via video conferencing tools like Zoom. Messaging tools like Slack will allow your team the opportunity to be in constant communication with each other if working remotely.  Did you know that you can make a video call on WhatsApp (with up to four people at once)?  Give it a go – it is a great way to keep in contact with colleagues and loved ones if they are confined to their home.
  • Consider focusing your marketing efforts on priority services like ‘repairs’.
    Our friends at Platinum Plumbers are focusing their marketing efforts on the emergency side (such as boiler repairs) of their business.
  • Let your customers know what safety precautions you are taking if you need to make a home visit.
    For example, if you are a tradesperson you may be cleaning your tools and disinfecting your vans more often.  Ace Rent a Van have recently issued the following statement to help reduce customer contact.

Many restaurants and other hospitality services have fitted extra sanitiser units and are making more of an effort to clean table-based condiments in between each use and double wash cutlery and crockery (whilst talking it about it as much as possible on their social feeds).  Ray at Black Taxi Tour London has put together a great video explaining how he cleans his vehicle and what products he is using.

Tips from Ray at Black Taxi Tour

  • Take the opportunity to reward customer loyalty.
    Focus a lot of attention on finding ways to encourage new business from your existing customer database.  After all, these customers already know who you are and what you can offer so the hard work is already done.  What do they currently buy from you?  Consider what other services you have that may be of interest to them.  Are you able to introduce a ‘recommend a friend’ offer or a Loyalty scheme of some kind?  You may want to offer a voucher or a discount to any customer that recommends a new customer to you (that proceeds to buy your product or service).  If you like the idea of an ongoing loyalty scheme you could a run a ‘get your 5th session free’ type promotion or a point collecting system.  You might decide to keep it simple and entice customers to buy a voucher now that can be used later.   For example, CVS Van hire are offering credit vouchers against future bookings, and explaining the difference it will make to their business compared to a refund. Printing Progress are offering 20% off your next order when you ‘recommend a friend’ (your recommended friend will also benefit from the offer) and free delivery for new customers.
  • Offer something unique
    Are you able to offer a delivery service of some kind? Some local restaurants have started to offer a reduced menu and delivery service. The Bank Restaurant is offering a 20% discount for collection orders. Havet held an online poll via their social media asking if there is a market for home deliveries, the feedback was a resounding yes and they are now offering FREE delivery from all 3 restaurants.

Other things to consider:

What about potential customers who did not buy from you before?

It is a good opportunity to approach clients that have shown interest in your business before, but for some reason didn’t buy from you (or use your service) at that time.  Contact them again and try to understand the reason why they said no to you.  Once you know the reason why, you may be able to offer them an alternative solution.

The power of a give-a-way

There’s nothing like a freebie to lift everyone’s spirits.  For a very small investment, a freebie has the power to push your brand out there in a major way.  Think about what you want to get out of it first though – aside from lifting spirits it is also a great opportunity for you to gather some customer data to use later.  For example, you may want to encourage potential customers to email you and register their interest in your services. In return, you might thank them with a 10% off voucher redeemable on any purchase they make in the next twelve months (that way, you can build a database of email addresses that you can target to convert at a later date (when things are on the up) while the customer gets a gift to use when they are ready.

The Administration Hub are offering a FREE video consultation for up to 60mins, to help companies look at where they could cut costs whilst maintaining quality service. Also, to help them use this time wisely and ensure that all procedures are up to date and sufficient.

Use your network

As an established business you will have built up a great network of contacts.  Use them.  Reach out to your suppliers, potential customers and previous customers and invite them to like and share your social posts, engage with your discussions, talk about you on their social media channels and do the same back for them.  Now is the time to help each other, and #ShopLocal

Join a Facebook Group

Most communities now boast a social networking site which is often a ‘go to’ source of all things ‘local’ for most towns.  Make sure you join in the discussion.  Recommend businesses that can help with people’s enquiries, and they may return the favour.  Use it to share information and keep your community up to date with who you are, what your business is up to and how you can help residents.  It is a great platform in encouraging people to #ShopLocal, stay connected and support local businesses.  Here are a few useful ones to get you started:

Beckenham Bromley Local Services
London Business Network
Kent Small Business Network
Mummy’s Gin Fund
West Wickham Mums

To find more groups, particularly those that are local to you follow these simple instructions:

  1. Click on your Facebook ‘Menu’ and click on ‘Groups’
  2. Use the search facility to find local groups i.e. ‘Bromley business’, ‘West Wickham business’, ‘London business’ etc.

Keep an eye on the big guys

Big corporate companies in your industry will have marketing departments and they will be working tirelessly to find new ways to attract customers – check them out and see what they are doing, you might get some ideas you can use in your business and then see what you can do to entice their customers into becoming yours.

The power of a ‘thank you’

Sometimes a simple thank you (that costs nothing) goes a long way towards making people feel good about your business.  When people feel good, they are more likely to spend money with you either now, or in the future.  If someone, buys from you, be sure to make an extra effort to say thank you.  It’s the small things that make a difference during tough times.

Hopefully, you now have some food for thought and some ideas on how you might get creative with your marketing efforts.  Remember, it’s important to continue to interact and engage with your customers, use your network to your advantage and work together with other small businesses in your community.  The lean times are exactly the times your business needs to use the power of marketing to gather as many email addresses as you can ready for the bounce back.  Consumers are restless and looking to make changes in their purchasing decisions.  You need to help them find your products and services and choose your business rather than reaching out to others, by getting your name out there.

Above all else, a touch of humour will go a long way like this cracker recently posted by our friends at the Bromley Vehicle Test Centre

Please share what you are doing differently in your business here and we will update this post with your details too