What can you do to make sure that your business comes out of the lockdown in as good a position as possible?
As soon as it was announced that NZ borders were going to close, we knew that for some of our clients, their income was simply going to disappear. The calls started coming in immediately from our tourism clients to put everything on hold. Others followed. Thousands in regular cash flow and new projects evaporated within days. We could hardly complain to our clients about our lost income from them as everyone was in the same boat.
It’s a cliche but your future business relies upon the quality of your current relationships. So we did what we could and tried to offer some relief to the clients worst hit and spend some time talking to them about where they saw their business going in future months.
We put together a resource about COVID-19, with information about financial support packages and links to all the different banks and government departments involved. It included advice on workplace hygiene for essential services, contingency planning tips and a few ideas on how the economy may change. We also included some information about what COVID-19 was and why it should be taken seriously. Many people weren’t aware of what the potential for this disease was.
Here are some ideas you may be able to adapt to your own marketing plans.
Offer something for free. We’ve decided to offer 6 months free hosting and a year free domain name registration to new customers. It attracts new business, is a point of difference and gives the customer a chance to build their business at a reduced cost.
Put more money into online marketing. It’s still really cheap, especially for companies that offer big-ticket products and services. The lockdown has meant that more people are spending more time online than ever before. At the same time, your competitors who lack cash are unable to spend, so there is less competition than before and clicks are going to be cheaper. Google Search Ads are the best place to start for most businesses.
Consider offering payment plans. One of our clients is integrating time payments into their online shop. It allows them to get paid and the customer to get what they want when they want it while paying for it in affordable instalments.
Teach people something. While you might not want to run an education business, offering an educational service can increase loyalty amongst existing customers and also brings in new ones. Master Jeweller, Steve Haywood is going exactly that with his Whisky and Coffee YouTube channel. And who knows, it could turn into a business in its own right!
Sell in new places. Different locations will experience different fallout from the lockdown. Is that competitor who had a stranglehold on a nearby town or suburb still operating? Could you take over their location? Or could you cut costs by ditching your commercial lease and work cheaper and more profitably from somewhere else?
Create a new event. Once public gatherings are back on the table, think about what people missed out on. Would you be able to put together a small event to capture the audience that goes to that big trade show every year that got cancelled?
Be Covid aware. Some people will be very wary of contact with the “potentially infected”. That means you! An “End of the World Doomsday Plague Sale” could get you a lot of attention but also be construed as cold and insensitive and alienate your potential customers. Did you notice the lack of April Fools jokes this year?
Alternatively, in your marketing, you could consider using language that is more empathetic to people’s concerns. You could possibly offer; contactless quotes, online payments, phone consultations and zoom meetings. All communication is a chance to create a new business relationship.
Is your website up to scratch? I’m currently quoting to redesign a website that was built 20 years ago and still uses the same layout. The photos are all too small. The text is hard to read and it’s virtually impossible to use on a smartphone. They’re too embarrassed to advertise it and there’s little chance of the company getting any new business online. How much new work does your website pull in? Check our website design portfolio for comparisons.
Is social media right for you? Or is it a waste of time and money? Not all businesses or business owners are suited to social media. If you can’t find a way to engage your audience and build a community, there may be better, more effective digital marketing options. If you do use social media, be prepared to put money into it. Total reach for natural or organic views is far lower than it was a few years ago. You’re probably going to have to buy those likes.
What about email marketing? An oldy but a goody, email marketing is an underutilised marketing tool. You don’t have to say a lot but you do have to stay in touch. If your customers haven’t heard from you in a while, perhaps they’re getting attention from someone else?
How strong is your company brand? Is your company name recognisable during a time when people are looking for certainty and security? Try to reinforce your core values and messages and underline the services that you are known for.
Look for trends affecting your industry. While we were in lockdown, we ran out of flea treatment for our pets. We found an online store that offers a subscription service for a regular delivery of flea treatments. Why didn’t our local pet store or vet offer this already? If a more convenient provider of product or service can capture new customers this easily in your industry, it’s possible to lose large sections of your business before you know it’s happening. How many other businesses will see fundamental changes due to the lockdown?
Statistics out of the UK show that over half of adults say being in lockdown is affecting their well-being with nearly half reporting high levels of anxiety. It is likely that New Zealanders are having similar experiences.
How you approach your sales and marketing is more important than ever. Don’t forget to promote benefits and not just features.
We’re probably all guilty of pushing the features of our products or services. But most of our customers don’t really care. When we do that, we’re assuming that they understand why they should buy our product or service because they have a list of their “features”. What they really want to know is… what’s in it for them? What is the benefit to them?
How will they feel, what will they gain or what will they avoid? The customer wants to know what your product or service can do for them. What problem or potential problem will it solve?
To use this yourself, think of a feature you offer and add “… means that…”. For example…
- Buying a new sports car means that others will think you’re successful.
- Upgrading to the twin-turbo model with leather seats means you’ll get there faster and in comfort.
- Insuring your new car means that even though you will probably write it off, you’ll be able to order the latest model with the insurance payout!
When reviewing your marketing budget for this financial year, remember these famous closing words from Warren Buffet;
“Be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful”
While everyone else is hunkering down, this could be an ideal time to look for new opportunities. Contact us today to discuss your business plans!