4 Marketing Hacks to Help Your Business Reach More Customers during COVID-19
By Guest Contributor Doug Stine of Stine-Nichols Plumbing
During an economic downturn, business owners face a bevy of questions and countless decisions.
Do we need to trim anything off the budget to make ends meet? If so, what sectors can we do without? What aspects of our business can we directly correlate to sales?
And when cuts happen, marketing and advertising are usually the first on the chopping block for small businesses. But knowing how to market your business effectively right now is more important than ever, and there are some simple marketing strategies your business can use right now that won’t break the bank.
To provide a quick introduction, my name is Doug Stine, and I run North Kansas City-based plumbing company, Stine-Nichols Plumbing. In order to navigate the changing landscape and continue to differentiate my business from the competition, my team has leaned on our marketing efforts to attract new customers. Having said that, I’d like to share four easy marketing tips (that worked for my business) to help you reach new audiences.
1. Try Out New Digital Platforms
In a world that becomes more digital by the day, why wouldn’t every single small business invest in growing a presence online? Coming from personal experience, you might say to yourself, “There are not enough hours in the day for this digital thing.” But here’s a hack if you don’t have time to write a weekly blog post or the financial flexibility to hire a marketing associate:
Think of ways to capitalize on your time to get something started or consider how to leverage what you or someone on your team is already doing.
Facebook Live and Instagram Stories are terrific ways to humanize your brand and aren’t as demanding on your time.
To provide a real-world example, let’s look at this from the perspective of a landscaper. Say your team just built a patio and you are heading out to do the final walkthrough with the customer. Hop on a Facebook Live to give your social followers a behind-the-scenes look at what a finished product truly looks like. Keep in mind these don’t need to be a high-production effort with multiple cameras and drones to be effective. Your best video tool is already in your pocket: your smartphone!
Just remember that the world will continue to become more and more digital. Whether you’re investing in the talents of a marketing professional or working on it in-house, getting a plan in-place is the first step.
More tips below ...
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2. Leverage your crisis communication strategy
Getting new consumers can be pricey. But you can actually use your crisis communication strategy to achieve this.
You may not have even considered having a crisis communication strategy in-place prior to 2020, but your business should have one now. Why? Take this example: Any service-based business that interacts with customers face-to-face or physically in their home should put customers at ease and give them the peace of mind that you’re following the necessary precautions to protect their health and safety.
And guess what? Your crisis communications strategy lends itself to some easy promotion for your business.
Try crafting a short post or a Facebook or Instagram video to show your customers that you’re open and what you’re doing to keep them safe. This will help get your name out there and show current (and maybe potential) customers how your business is serving the community, while keeping everyone safe. This way, you’re taking care of two birds with one stone.
Take a look at this post the Stine-Nichols Plumbing team put out back in April. This was certainly at the peak of the pandemic, and safety was prioritized everywhere. Something as simple as showing that you’re team is following the necessary COVID-19 protocols can ease a lot of concerns for your customers. See? Easy.
3. Start an email campaign
One of the core components to any complete marketing strategy involves some sort of email campaign. For those of you who may have been sitting on some potential email campaigns for awhile, now could be the perfect time to move forward. For any business owner, there are two glaring benefits to email marketing:
There’s no way to sugarcoat it: Marketing in 2020 can be expensive. Whether you’re hiring a professional photographer for content production or investing in paid ads on Google, it can be intimidating from the onset. With email marketing campaigns, it won’t necessarily cost you an arm and a leg.
As a side note, there are several email platforms available at a variety of price points. With some, you’re just getting the bare-bones and ability to send email blasts, while others can function as a complete CRM and allow for syncing with your accounting software. Consider the level of functionality you’ll need before committing to a platform.
Automate Routine Tasks
Every business owner has plenty on their plate right now, and small business owners often wear many hats every day. If you can have a one-time setup for something that improves the customer journey and doesn’t force you to devote more of your time in the weeks to follow, why wouldn’t you do it? With email automation, you can automate everything from a welcome email to notifying your sales team (and maybe that's you) about following up with leads. It truly can be a game-changer for every single business.
4. Conversational Marketing
The final point we’ll discuss involves the messaging itself. As we all know, having a consistent presence online is one thing, but the tone and voice of your content is just as important. During a time where many are stressed out and uncertain about the future, it’s important to be mindful about your online messaging and make sure it’s not insensitive in the context of the pandemic and other societal issues. A good rule of thumb is to engage in conversational marketing.
Being able to humanize yourself online is an invaluable skill. If customers feel they can relate to you, I think they will be more likely to stay committed to your brand. They don’t want to feel like they’re just another invoice number or Instagram follower.
How exactly does a business humanize itself and still stand out in a crowded digital world? Even if you’re not utilizing paid advertising and simply relying on organic engagement, don’t just post something to meet a weekly post quota.
Instead, put yourself in the shoes of your customers. Will a stock image of an electrical outlet, lawnmower or whatever industry you may work in, make them stop scrolling? Chances are, probably not.
Believe it or not, but it’s fairly easy to differentiate a stock image from an actual one. In the end, people like to see other people. It’s as simple as that! They want to see the individuals behind the brand.
As a service provider that works physically inside people’s homes and businesses, the team at Stine-Nichols Plumbing know this is critical. Consumers are going to do their research online before even making contact, and social media is an easy place for them to start. So make sure you’re being authentic online and that you’re proud of what you post. This can improve customers’ perception of your brand.
Most of All: Don’t Panic
Having been in the business world my entire professional career, I’ve seen some drastic market shifts. While at times it might seem like the world is falling apart, the best advice I can give fellow business owners is to not panic.
I understand your entire social media feed is likely filled with panic everywhere you look. Politics, job loss numbers, health reports ... the list goes on. For any small business owner, it’s easy to assume marketing and advertising might seem like an easy thing to cut. I ask that you reconsider that decision before eliminating it altogether. Marketing is what will allow your business to grow and scale. Without it, you’ll can remain stagnant or grow at a much smaller clip.
Plus when you’re forced to pause and regroup, assessing how you can best reach and help your customers is a great way to remain productive at a time when you feel like you’re stuck.
If you ever want to reach out to discuss anything marketing or plumbing-related, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team at Stine-Nichols Plumbing. You’re also more than welcome to give us a follow on Facebook and Instagram to see how we’ve adjusted our social presence to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Thumbnail image courtesy of www.gotcredit.com.
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