With apologies to Charles Dickens:
It is the worst of times—no, really...the second quarter of 2020 saw the worst contraction of the economy in terms of Gross Domestic Product since records have been kept.
It is the best of times—that is harder to see on an everyday basis, but the Q2 numbers were actually not as bad as economists thought they would be. In addition, the growth in retail sales and the stock market as we have been working our way out of this COVID-caused calamity has been pretty impressive.
Is the “worst of times” over? Is the “best of times” a preview of coming months? We can certainly hope and pray for “Yes!” answers to both of these questions. One thing is for sure, everything after this will be “different times.” If you are in business, marketing will forever be different. 6 months ago, many folks had never heard of a technology called ZOOM. Now, almost EVERYONE is using it for personal and business reasons. Online sales are growing exponentially, and people are still a bit uneasy about going into the stores and venues that are open.
Your business will be different from now on. For better or worse, the great shutdown and the tremors it created have affected you. The key is to adapt. Embrace the new situation and find ways to thrive, not just survive.
Reduced Ad Budgets
Right about now you’re saying, “Brilliant observation, Captain Obvious!” Yes, revenues are down in almost all business sectors right now. As I mentioned before, retail sales saw a massive bounce back over the last couple months, and I suspect that any retailer that does business online has done fine. But restaurants, hotels, gas stations, car repair shops, airlines...name almost any “brick-and-mortar” you want...have all had huge struggles with cash-flow and floor traffic since March when shutdowns began nationwide.
When you have to accomplish the same task with fewer resources, turn your attention to activities that produce a high return on investment (ROI). Focus your marketing efforts in areas that will have greater response rates. The goal is to land your marketing message in front of a potential buyer - someone who is shopping for your product or service - while they are in their decision process.
To help you do this, the ClearBox development team put together our Local Micro-Targeted Ad program. We use very specific data to target potential customers at the very time they are ready to make a decision, then drive them to your location, your phone, or your website. With a customer acquisition cost potentially under $2, it can fit in your new, smaller advertising budget.
Dealing with Closures
One of the things that’s made the last few months especially tough is the uneven nature of business closures and reopenings. The federal government issued rough guidelines for some things; states made their own rules, some of which were overruled by counties and cities...until they weren’t. Depending on the nature of your business you were either allowed to be open with different rules, mandated to be closed, or deemed “necessary” and expected to be open. It’s made for a hodgepodge of “open” and “closed” signs in most cities.
You have to be aggressively proactive in getting the word out to your customers about your status. A great way of doing that is through social media. Most people have way too much time on their hands and they are on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Tik-Tok more than ever. When I need to find out if a business I want to go to is open or not...or what their current hours are, I check their Facebook page first. For all of the flaws people love to expose, social media excels at putting business info out there in a way that is easy and predictable. Use the business page tools to easily change your hours as reopening happens. Put up special posts about those changes and engage people in conversation. It’s a very time-efficient and inexpensive (free, really, except for the time you spend) way to market your business.
And don’t neglect your Google-my-business page! It can become a second website that turbocharges your work to be found online. It is a free and powerful tool.
Refine your Messaging
With so much going on in the world right now every single business needs to think about how they are presenting themselves to the buying public. What messages do they want to convey overtly? What do they want to say more subtly? It’s easy enough to be anti-COVID, but if you start talking about the origin of the virus (or heaven forbid masks), you are going to alienate about half of your customers.
Instead of talking about the problem, talk about how you are solving the problem, especially for your customers or clients or even for the larger community. Talk about your safety standards, changes in your service levels to accommodate government restrictions, ways you are working to make your customer’s life better.
Here are some starter thoughts:
- We are taking your health and safety seriously. To protect you and give you a great experience in our (restaurant, bar, store…) We are doing the following…
- Find your freedom again. We now bring our service to you! Here’s what that means…
- Checkout our new online portal. You get everything you love about ((insert your name) from the comfort of your iPad, laptop, or phone.
- We’ve added a dedicated phone line to answer all of your questions about when and how we are doing business now. Call us at __________ and get all your questions answered.
Keep your messaging about your customer and how you are serving and helping them solve their problems. They will reward you with their business.
By the way, we’ve already helped lots of businesses figure out what their new business model and message should be. If you want to talk, you can set up a time on our website. Click here to get started.
Keep Creating Demand
Adapt or become extinct. Those are your only two real choices. To adapt, you have to be innovative in creating demand for your business. I hope the tips above got you thinking. Reach out to your existing and former customers. Target new audiences that look like your best customers now. Be loud and proud on social media to be seen and heard and spend a little money to promote those messages. If you feel stuck, we’re here and we’ll get you unstuck.
These times surely have the capacity to try men’s souls, but ClearBox Strategies can help your business adapt, grow, and thrive.You can leverage our highly efficient Local Micro-targeting ad program, social media management, or let us help you build strategies for your specific message. Give us 15 minutes of your time and we will get you started. At a minimum, you’ll leave with some new ideas. Bright Ideas. Clear Results. ClearBox.