Above All, Be Helpful
A Marketing Plan for The Period of Reconstruction
Nonessential business owners make major shifts.
Cocoon living is not for me. As an extrovert, I’m invigorated when I’m around other people. I miss the friendly smiles of my coworkers, the raucous banter that runs rampant through a networking meeting, and that moment when somebody has a challenge in my field of expertise that I can help solve.
Networking is my thing. It’s how I generate most of my business. Connections provide referrals that lead to new customers. Without being able to interact with my peeps, my pipeline is likely to dry up. That is…if I don’t pivot. And fast.
During the second week of my quarantine, I sat in on three business planning webinars. All three webinars delivered one constant message. This is not a time to hide under a rock. You must continue to market your business. We know that this isolated environment will end, and our world will get back to business. Those who continue with their marketing activity will undoubtedly be ahead of the curve.
What can a business owner do with a person-to-person operation that has been declared nonessential?
Make a Product Shift
Cynthia Pratt-Miller, with Hair Bomb Salon, recognized a need to generate an immediate source of income. She already processed payments using Square, so she used that platform to create digital gift cards. Customers can instantly send e-gift cards via email or schedule it to send on a future date. Square also offers a way for users to email customers and build an online store.
You likely have products that augment your services. Consider creating a delivery solution to distribute products to customers. Don’t forget to safely sanitize the package and practice social-distancing drop offs.
Cynthia says, “Hair grows at a rate of a quarter inch per month. That’s a problem for people who wear hair extensions. I lost sleep worrying about one client.” She gathered a tape-in extension removal product and sanitized the package before making the socially-distanced delivery.
Cynthia has provided online consultation to her customers, guiding them through the complicated hair-color matching processes.
A business could also package their services in bulk and provide a discount for future bookings.
Embrace New Technology
Yoga guru Carly Sink would much rather be out in nature than in front of a camera. Until recently, she had no online presence, preferring to conduct classes in person at Yoga Dogz and the Y. She’s a great example of a business person who is learning and adapting rapidly to a new way of doing business. “I’m not comfortable being on video, but at some point, you’ve just got to get over yourself,” says Carly.
Carly is traditionally a hands-on healer. Although she didn’t intend to promote herself in the digital world, she’s excited about the prospect of expanding her market reach and helping people across the country with her business called Hi-Frequency Healing, which focuses on energy healing therapies.
“Right now, I’m just trying to figure it out,” says Carly, referring to her new YouTube Channel, Carly Sink, where she has posted two yoga videos, a 20-minute guided nature-based meditation, and a tutorial about obtaining emotional balance using essential oils. Who doesn’t need a little guidance towards emotional balance right now?
Carly’s YouTube channel is new, so she doesn’t have many subscribers. To combat this, she shares her new video posts to her Facebook page that has well over 2,000 followers.
Carly has embraced other new medias. “I’ve also partnered with people who have podcasts to educate the community about the benefits of aromatherapy and bio energetics. I’m planning on setting up an online shop with retail sales for natural energy healing and vibrational therapy tools, like crystals and essential oils. Customers will be able to book services online as well.”
“Now I’m learning the technical part. Then I’ll figure out how to monetize it. But right now it’s not about the money. It’s about helping people. Everybody needs relief and emotional support right now.”
Speaking of Being Helpful, What if You Just Can’t Sell Anything Right Now?
You may not be able to make a sale at this moment, but that doesn’t mean you should stop marketing. In fact, it’s now more important than ever to stay in front of your target market. At the very least, find ways to be helpful. If you can be helpful in a way that reflects your brand, that’s the essence of brand marketing.
A person can dream, right? Ed Dean, with Cruise Planners, helps people look forward to their next vacation by sending them on a virtual cruise to the destination of their choice. I’ll take a 15-minute fantasy vacation over current reality. Yes, please.
Organize Your Marketing
Now that I’m working from home, it’s more difficult to turn a blind eye to menacing junk piles. Julie Bilyeu with Caring Transitions is producing a series of videos about decluttering, liquidating and making your space less stressful.
Kick Up Your Membership Program
In an effort to continue the education of their members, TRU Taekwondo created a Facebook live schedule to deliver classes for various belt levels. While they continue to deliver virtual training and general workout sessions, a facebook post tells members, “All students will be credited missed time onto their memberships.”
Capture This Unique Moment
We’ll never forget the times we’re experiencing right now. I read an article about a photographer who is booking neighborhood photo shoots. She’s capturing come-as-you-are moments with people on their front porches. The results are unique — a refreshing alternative to canned studio shots.
Walk the Digital Runway
Even though we can get away with working in our pajamas until 3:00 p.m., a fashion addict still needs a fix. A local boutique is operating a digital runway on Facebook. FB live presentations feature new arrivals, which can be purchased online or over the phone and picked up curbside.
Relax and Share
Don’t worry about giving away your industry secrets. Just try to help people get through this temporary rough patch. Your customers could spend an excruciating amount of time learning how to do what you do. That doesn’t mean they want to. Ultimately people will remember you for how you helped them and learn to appreciate your expertise.