During the whole COVID-19 crisis, I have heard a lot of people say that they feel awkward marketing during the crisis because they feel everyone is in the same boat.
That's only half true - everyone is in the same boat, but why does that equate to not doing business?
Especially now, as restrictions are being lifted and you are able to reach out to customers. You are no longer wasting your breath because they couldn't leave isolation.
Even more important, as some of the government economic stimulus packages end, there will be more competition for the scarce consumer dollar, so you need to make sure that you are on top of people's minds in your field.
So, let's look at how you can still conduct your marketing even during the unwinding of the crisis.
Even though you might now be seeing a reduction of restrictions, the conditions that keep small businesses restricted stay the same.
Fewer people are still out and about than normal.
People do not want to spend necessarily, and when they look for products, they will go to places that they remember and that make it easy for them to buy.
People are wanting to save money so they are questioning if they should invest in your goods or services.
It's going to take many months before real normality is back.
But we still need to conduct our marketing initiatives - it's about keeping us front-of-mind to our customers, even if your doors are closed!
So, to keep you in front of your customers, I have three marketing strategies for you to consider.
First, now if ever, is the time to market for brand consciousness.
If you have read my previous articles, you will know about the marketing funnel.
Imagine a funnel where, at the top, you start to introduce people to your business.
As they pass down the tunnel, you get them to understand and know about you and what you offer.
At the narrow end, they start to decide to buy because they have come to like and trust you and because of what you offer to them.
This is the time to introduce people at the top of the funnel to your business by showing them your brand, what you produce and what you stand for.
At this time, there are fewer people coming into your shop, less leads you can follow up, so the bottom half of the tunnel is hard to fill.
People are more inclined at this time to stay at home and surf the net, scroll through social media, read newspapers and magazines. So, this is the ideal time to start your social media campaigns giving free advice or providing information about your product and about you.
Advertise to your target market the fact that you are well and ready to serve despite the crisis. Provide information about how your products can be of benefit to them.
Through your marketing activity, get them to know you and start to like you.
Specifically, this is where you can make a difference by showing off your difference. Make sure your unique selling proposition - why choose you - is prominent.
The aim is to get yourself front-of-mind, so that when your target customers come back out to look for products like yours, they remember you.
Secondly, target an information flow to your existing customers.
They are well and truly through your sales funnel, so don't lose them and have to start all over again!
For them, the message you send is one of sustainability and continuity, as well as of service.
Choose your marketing activities to provide information - to get them to like you more and to really trust you.
Consider sending them newsletters just telling them what you are doing, how you are organising to serve them better when we're all back. Keep them enthralled and make sure they remember you.
If you're still open for business, send them vouchers and discount offers to keep sales ticking over. Even if you're closed, send them out anyway - a rush to your business will be a pleasant surprise when restrictions are over!
Call them if you can - check in on them, as if they are alright and how you can help, even if it's something outside of your core business. Continue developing that relationship where they know, like, and trust you.
If you leave them alone during these times, they may not be there when you re-open.
The third marketing strategy is to keep any leads "warm".
These are the people who were halfway down your funnel before it all stopped. You hadn't had the chance to convert them to customers, but they were truly interested.
These people got to know you before, they like you because of how you engaged with them and they had got to trust you - but they never got a chance to buy.
So, your marketing activities need to provide them with more contact and trust, and to provide information about how your product is just perfect for their needs.
The aim is the same, don't let them forget you. In fact, have them so eager to do business with you that they come back quickly.
How you do this is also to keep up contact.
Call them. Tell them you haven't forgotten your last conversations. Reassure them that you'll be ready to go when they are, can you offer them any more information? Perhaps you can send them a video about how you will supply to their needs? Can you get them to hop in a Zoom conference call so that you can discuss details?
Don't push them - they'll have their own concerns about their business - but be supportive and keep the conversation flowing. Be supportive.
That's it, three marketing strategies you can employ right now!
You can use these, and other marketing strategies in a cohesive focused plan if you prepare your S.M.A.R.T. Marketing Plan.
A S.M.A.R.T. Marketing Plan identifies exactly why they buy your product, exactly who is hanging out to be your customer because of their needs, and then provides you with the most appropriate ways of sending them the message they want to hear,
Importantly, a S.M.A.R.T. Marketing Plan focuses only on low-hanging fruit to get them to know, like and trust you - and buy.
S.M.A.R.T. Marketing is a system I synthesised from my 40 years' of experience and OTS Management's companion online products brand called Teik Oh Dot Com offers a value-driven, inexpensive online learning workshop called SMART Marketing to guide you through the preparation of your own marketing plan.
Let me summarise by saying that this may seem the worst time to do any marketing, but believe me, if you do, you will come out of this stronger than before. Continue building those relationships now, and they will remember you.
If you're not quite ready to buy your Marketing Plan program, perhaps you would like to dip your toe in the water first and get some free marketing resources?
Through our online brand, I am giving away a free report on How To Win More Customers By Pressing Their Hot Buttons, a free video training on How To Keep Your Customers Loyal By Lovin' 'Em To Death, and a free video training on The 7 Easy Steps To Creating Your Own Focused Marketing Plan.
I hope you try it out.