small business survival kit: marketing 101
how to market to your customers during a lockdown
Welcome to the new normal. Unreasonable amounts of homemade banana bread and liver troubling Zoom happy hours are now a thing. As are work video calls wearing pyjama bottoms with a smart top (fooled you all, didn’t I!). But baked goods aside, small businesses, such as ours, have struggled since the start of the Coronavirus lockdown. Some of you may be able to operate with reduced capacity, some may be having to find new income streams. Others may be riding the wave of financial uncertainty as companies restrict their budgets and cut back on their suppliers. One thing I am sure of is that, if your circumstances can allow it, now is not the time to radically strip back your marketing budget. In order to survive, marketing your business must play a central role in your strategy to survive this lockdown and beyond. But how, I hear you ask? Funny you should ask, here’s a 101 guide covering the basics of how to market to your customers during a lockdown:
1. work smart to retain your existing customer base
Continue to market to your customers during lockdown through your usual channels. Keep them updated about your opening hours, how you’re operating and if your deliveries are affected. Consider communicating what initiatives you are undertaking, or what you plan to undertake as lockdown is lifted. Wherever possible use bold, brand appropriate visuals to grab attention and encourage better recall. Moreover, be careful to have succinct, clear messaging with a clear directive.
make it personal.
Feed your customers updates about not only your businesses’ response to the outbreak, but also your own personal response. By showing personal insights into how you’re handling our ‘new normal’, you’ll not only humanise your communications but you’ll also allow your audience to connect with you in a deeper and more empathetic way.
The spirit of the lockdown so far in Britain has largely been a ‘we’re in this together’ mentality. So show your customers that you really are in this with them too. It’s ok to show a little vulnerability and get creative too. Use video, moving image, live channels, illustration, bold graphics and clever copy. Include your team wherever possible. Although, as the business owner, most will be looking to you to provide the narrative and lead from the top.
help your customers.
What are your customers concerned about right now? How can you relieve these pain points? Think about how you can offer reassurance, social connection, or tangible assistance. What you do and how you do it during challenging times matters just as much, if not more, than during easier times.
utilise your network.
Think about other local traders and people within your industry. Who do you already have a solid relationship with and can you combine groups together? Could you host an online video chat once a week for your network to discuss concerns in your industry and trade helpful information relevant to your product or service? By connecting with others in a similar boat you’ll encourage sharing, support and future work. Plus, in times like these, sometimes it’s just helpful to know that there are people out there who understand what you’re going through.
2. get even more visible in front of your target market
the Mere Exposure Effect.
The more you hear or see something, the more you like it. That’s the basic premise of the Mere Exposure Effect. This is a marketing phenomenon whereby consumers develop a preference for a particular product or service just because they’re familiar with it. Okay, so there are many variables that would help or hinder whether a consumer would feel compelled to actually purchase. But it’s true that most people prefer things they’re familiar with.
So how to create more exposure for your business during a lockdown? I’d recommend going digital, but use only the platforms where your target audience are likely to be. You might decide to advertise through social media channels or run a Google Ads campaign, for example.
share and share alike.
Utilise that network we were talking about earlier and ask them to share your content on their own channels. Whether it’s a blog article, Instagram post or something they can include in their next mailer. Find out what’s easiest for them and offer to reciprocate. By supporting each other you’ll get access to each other’s customer bases, build a stronger support network and create some good karma. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. Just make sure to pay the good deeds back!
social media for the win.
If you haven’t actually put your business on social media, now is the time! As the world moves even more online, so should you. Your customers might be trying to find you on social media already and are coming up against a big fat brick wall. Social media can give you access to not only your existing customers but potential customers too – allowing you to engage with them directly. It’ll give you the ability to quickly and easily post updates and offers, and show off the personality behind your brand. Learning how to market to your customers during a lockdown is made infinitely easier thanks to social media.
3. turn prospective customers into actual customers
the customer experience.
Make sure your customer’s experience of your brand is as seamless as possible. Is your website working properly and is it fast and up-to-date? Can they easily purchase from you and contact you? Are your photos fuzzy, dull and unappetising or crisp, on-brand and compelling? Did you use stock photos (not a good look in most instances) and is your website looking slick or is it a bit ‘dawn of the Internet’ naff? How about the key information – is it immediate and/or easy to find?
Think about other touch points for your customers, such as your social media channels and your in-store point-of-sales. Have you clearly displayed your social distancing information e.g. floor markings for queues, street facing posters displaying the safety rules etc.
Positive reinforcement helps justify the purchase process. You could achieve this by adding a desirable stimulus after a behaviour. For example, if I write a good Barefaced Studios article Tom gives me a cookie. As a result, I’m encouraged to write another good article because I like cookies.
Positive reinforcement can also be used by threading positive messages before the behaviour has even begun in order to encourage the desired behaviour. For instance, Tom tells me that when Sophie last wrote a good Barefaced Studios article he was really impressed. He’s definitely going to get her to write another one because it was so good and he gave her a cookie afterwards to say thanks. So what form can this take for you? Think along the lines of sharing testimonials, reviews, success stories, stats, small thank you gifts and cards. You can also try cookies – I find double choc chip work the best.
4. measure what’s working, test your ideas, learn from them, tweak.
the really nerdy bit.
This bit is generally trickier for most small business owners. Bigger businesses will (hopefully) have marketing people or agencies who are trained in this. I’d recommend going in easy and not bamboozling yourself. Has your website got Google Analytics installed? No? Better set that up – although it’ll take a while for any useful stats to start to appear. If you already have Google Analytics, or another form of analytics, get familiar with the software and how to use it. Find tutorials online that can help you learn at least the basics.
If you send out newsletters then learn about A/B testing (again, search for a tutorial). Have you become a dab hand at social media advertising? Take a look at the results and compare them – what works best for you? What are the patterns within the top performing adverts? Try out different ideas, jot down the results, learn from them, then tweak. Doing this regularly will help you to narrow down your efforts to what actually works, saving you time and budget whilst increasing conversions.
So there we have it folks, a marketing 101 on how to market to your customers during lockdown. If you’d like a chat with one of our team we’re currently offering free phone consultations for prospective clients. Just send us an email on email@example.com