Knowing how to market your business to an audience who have a whole host of matters at the forefront of their attention can be tricky. For any small business, this is a disconcerting time, with financial and personal difficulties arising.
While it’s key that businesses are seen to be sympathetic to the hardships that many people have fallen upon, it’s also important to amend marketing strategies to represent the current climate. Customers are not refraining entirely from purchasing, but contingency plans are going to definitely be more valuable when there is such uncertainty about money, and potential lockdowns.
We take a look at how small businesses can market their way through the Coronavirus outbreak, with a focus on changing digital marketing strategies to represent the shifting needs and wants of their audiences.
Scenario mapping is key during this time, especially with regards to where your business could see itself in a matter of weeks or months. While it is painful for any business to consider any sort of contingency plan due to vulnerability, this is essential when all industries are on shaky ground.
That being said, however, there are opportunities for innovative workarounds where small businesses can update their marketing strategies.
If your marketing is focusing on one particular channel, why not consider the benefits of changing channels? Redirecting your marketing efforts into an alternative channel, or multiple alternative channels could mean you access a new wave of customers who are seeking your services. Despite there being such uncertainty regarding what people will be able to do, and what protective measures the UK government will take, people are still buying.
Social distancing and self-isolation mean that many people will be at home, and if they’re not working at home then there will be an inevitable increase in the amount of people who are searching the internet, or using social media.
Changing up your digital marketing to redirect your brand to a new channel could open up your business to people who might not have seen your messaging previously because of their restricted access to social media, or the internet during work hours.
Plus, different channels open up different formats of messaging. Changing up your messaging to fit the more informal likes of Facebook, for example, might address a different aspect of your business that you hadn’t capitalised on before.
Paid social on Instagram for example is also highly valuable for visual services and products, or even small businesses or freelancers that can offer their services online - such as coaches, digital training, corporate or leisure classes and many more. If you haven’t considered paid social before, trying this alternative channel might reap benefits for your business that you would have otherwise missed out on.
This is applicable to whatever medium of digital marketing that your small business currently relies on. Whether you focus on paid social, email marketing or paid search, why not consider adapting your business strengths into alternative channels and seeing the response?
Organic SEO is one of the most critical aspects of digital marketing from the perspective of improving a businesses authority and presence on Google.
Using this down period to focus on improving the SEO of your small business could reap huge rewards once the market returns to ‘normal’.
Boosting your level of content, creating cornerstone articles that demonstrate to Google your authority within your industries; ensuring all your meta data is optimised, creating specific landing pages to improve the relevancy of your website to the search terms that your audience is currently searching for. All this boosts your organic SEO and gives your small business the upper hand over competitors who don’t take this opportunity.
Simply, the best way to modify your marketing approach is to focus on future bookings.
Work on pushing the strengths of your brands, if you can’t deliver a physical course, or service, focus on what you can deliver. For example, if you run courses, classes or workshops that usually require a physical location, you can focus on transferring your physical services to online services where applicable.
If you run classes, focus on changing your digital marketing to show users that you’re willing to relocate their classes to virtual classrooms. If you’re in e-commerce, focus on the aspects of your USPs that suit the current environmental context - you wouldn’t try to sell out an annual conference, considering, but you might market that conference as being virtual. Simultaneously adding value to your users, while retaining the valuable income generated by this service.
For example, an ecommerce business that sells gym wear might change up their marketing to focus on the ease of ‘at home workouts’.
Marketing your services with long-term bookings in mind means that you’re still generating sustainable growth, but such that is focused on retaining the interest of customers through a period of inactivity.
For example, if you offer physical courses, which could range from corporate training to chocolate making, why not market these so that customers that put down deposits for future bookings? This not only helps cash flow, but creates a sense of normality for users during a period which is uncertain for everyone - customers, businesses and self-employed individuals alike.
With a digital marketing approach that focuses on future bookings, giving your users a ‘way out’ while encouraging them to interact with your services or products is crucial, and important when considering how best to change up your marketing.
Working on a top-line strategy that benefits you as a small business AND your customer is key.
If you offer services which require people to come to your studio or a physical location where you carry out our business, then why not offer customers an option to book in the future with 100% cancellation available? Or offer your regular services but with an option to pay a deposit for a session in the future?
Giving customers the flexibility to keep a booking valid for 6 to 12 months for example, not only gives users the peace of mind that their investment in your services will actually come to fruition, just at a later date, but it reduces the amount of lost income for your small business.
If applicable, why not create digital marketing messages that offer sample products in lieu of full price products? Working with alternate messaging that does not encourage reluctant users to purchase full price products or services will mean that your business is seen to be sympathetic to the current environmental context, and the mindset of your audiences.
Financially, your audience is probably going to be feeling the pinch. But offering your services with a contingency plan of sorts, whether that is offering sample products to encourage interaction, or offering a deposit scheme for applicable business models, means that you’re more likely to retain users, and increase your business’s reputation at the same time.
Of course, this will not be applicable to all industries. Especially small businesses that rely on on-site locations in order to carry out their services. But small businesses must rely on innovative workarounds in order to ensure they survive the financial strain that will come of this current climate.
Customers are still in the mindset to purchase, but need reassuring that their investments are not going to disappear. That the businesses they are investing in are actually aware of the barriers to purchase which exist, and are modifying their business practices to make it easier for customers to support them.
If you have any questions about how you can go about changing up your marketing, or just need advice on where to start, why not get in contact with our friendly team via our contact form or our Live Chat.