Spring is in full bloom all around New York City.
Bursting with color, flowers have spread beyond the well maintained parks.
Like the mix of flowers around the city, people are at different stages of COVID immunity.
From a business perspective, you have a responsibility to treat all of your employees and customers consistently and fairly.
And, this can become a marketing challenge since it involves determining:
- What COVID-related your policies your business will establish and follow and
- How you’ll enact and communicate them to employees and customers.
While many business executives and owners don’t consider employee relations to be part of marketing, they miss an important opportunity.
Because how you treat your employees reflects on your business and your brand!
Further, tapping into your marketing resources ensures that your employee policies and communications are consistent with your brand objectives. Also, they’re communicated in your brand voice.
Actionable Employee Guidelines:
Require all on-site employees regardless of job function to wear masks at all times when they are at work locations. This way you don’t discriminate against any one group of employees. Also, it makes those with heightened concerns feel protected.
Where possible, allow employees who don’t want to follow these protocols to work remotely.
Help employees and those they live with to get vaccinated since it helps your business and your community. To this end, provide information, help schedule vaccines, and give employees time off so they can get their shots. Also, understand that they may have reactions to one or both doses so they may need compensated time off so they don’t get sick at work.
Actionable Customer and Public Guidelines:
Require people to wear masks when they’re at your retail and other establishments regardless of whether they’re vaccinated. Your objective is to treat everyone consistently and to protect the broader public without singling out any group of people. Further, minimize contact and overcrowding in your locations.
The exception to these guidelines applies to restaurants. If you own a restaurant, then comply with your local guidelines in terms of capacity and other factors.
How Do You Keep Your Marketing Going During Uncertain Times?
Changing CDC guidance regarding COVID and local regulations that may differ translates to marketing challenges during these uncertain times.
So what should you do as a marketer?
Start by taking a deep breath and preparing yourself to be nimble so you can adapt your marketing on-the-fly to the dynamic environment.
And I appreciate your concerns because this isn’t the optimal way to maximize profitable sales and efficiently use your budget.
Further, changing your marketing to meet current circumstances can be difficult. Beyond having enough lead time, testing different options may not be possible depending on your specific challenges. As a result, you may have no way to predict the best alternative.
To help you, here are suggestions for a variety of marketing approaches. Depending on your business, offering and location, your specific marketing needs and challenges will vary. Bear in mind that COVID has had an uneven impact on businesses around the world.
As with any marketing program, where possible test your approach to ensure that it resonates with your audience and offering.
Offer a mix of online and offline shopping options
This should be a no-brainer, especially post-COVID. Bear in mind that during 2020, the digital divide between Millennials and Gen Z and older generations, namely the 65+ group disappeared.
People’s desire to be safe forced them to use online shopping and communications options to buy products, get medical help, and stay in touch with their family and friends.
During COVID, most people moved down at least one level on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
Actionable Marketing Tips:
- Offer “Buy online with home delivery” and/or “Buy online, pick up at store (aka: BOPUAS)”. For some businesses, this may translate to increased competition from the big online players, namely Amazon.So what do you do?
Look for ways to make your offering special. For example, schedule special limited shopping hours, a personal shopper, and/or local delivery.By contrast, this is a great option for restaurants including high-end offerings that had been “Eat In Only”. It can open up new opportunities for people who might not be able to afford to eat at your establishment but can treat themselves to a smaller option like a drink and an appetizer.
- Offer products to meet your customers’ current needs. For example, Home Goods of Margaretville pivoted to serve both the local farmers and community at the beginning of COVID. They extended their offering beyond kitchenware to include grocery products sourced locally. To help customers, they keep their Facebook Page up-to-date with the latest products.
Deal with excess inventory
Due to the COVID quarantine, many people stayed home and didn’t shop for anything beyond necessities and a few treat items. As a result, your business may have excess inventory of difficult-to-sell or out-of-style items.
Regardless of your business category, this is always a difficult problem. Because you have money invested in the existing inventory and it takes up space and limits resources for newer products.
Actionable Marketing Tips:
- Use your retail window to attract foot traffic. Since your goal is to get passers-by to stop and look at your merchandise, make your window stand out. For example, here’s how one commercial real estate company decorated its windows to attract attention.
- Create sales promotions. At minimum, aim to recoup your initial investment plus a bit more to contribute to your overhead.
- Place related, low priced products near your checkout to boost your average sale. Think like a grocery store that places candy, snacks and magazines at the checkout counter. When considering this option, realize this may require investing in additional inventory. For example, during COVID, I bought extra masks this way.
- Assess the potential for a co-located pop-up shop. This can help defray some of your overhead costs and attract new customers.
Get creative with low or no stock
While many retailers have excess inventory, others face longer than usual production schedules to fill their shelves. For example, Fishs Eddy, one of my favorite local stores that sells quirky and iconic items, has experienced this challenge for a while.
Actionable Marketing Tips:
- Change your merchandising. Avoid looking like your shelves are bare. Instead alter your product presentation and store setup. Make the remaining products look their best.
- Spotlight your one of a kind and other low inventory. Think “Get Them While They Last Sale”. When Fishs Eddy did this with their low inventory products, I bought 2 cheese platters. One looked like grid paper and the other looked like elementary school paper.
- Allow another business to co-located. Create an in-store gallery or other related business. For example, Home Goods of Margaretville regularly offers knife sharpening by Brad of Cutting Edge Custom Sharpening and promotes them on their Facebook Page.By contrast, the son of Fishs Eddys’ owner has a gallery of animal paintings in the back of the store. Even better, you can commission a portrait of your dog or cat.
Re-engage with existing customers
As the saying goes, out of sight out of mind. So take the opportunity to reach out to your customers.
For example, my real estate agent reconnected with her clients last fall by sending a note card. She included her business card and a reusable shopping bag with her information on it. It’s a great way to stay visible.
Actionable Marketing Tips:
- Send a fun postcard or note to your customer list. While the personal approach works best, what you decide to do will depend on the size of your list.
- Create a co-marketing promotion with a related but not competitive business. Ideally work together to create an offering that makes sense to your customers.
Mark Your Calendar: #VoiceLunch Marketing on Friday, May 21st
Please join me for #VoiceLunch Marketing on Friday, May 21st at 12pm ET/ 9am PT when we’ll be discussing:
How To Make The Business Case For Voice Marketing
I’m hosting #VoiceLunch Marketing. It meets every other Friday and is an open, global conversation about key topics related to marketing and voice. Each meeting starts with a short presentation of less than 15 minutes and then provides a forum for open conversation.
BTW, there are a variety of #VoiceLunch Meetings covering different voice-related topics.
Sign up to your Zoom invitation link here:
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FEATURED ARTICLE: Voice Marketing: The How To Guide You Need To Be Competitive
Wondering whether you should extend your marketing to include voice options?
Not sure what voice marketing actually is?
Then get the inside scoop on this emerging and powerful way to connect with prospects and customers with our How To Guide To Voice Marketing. It details each of the 10 elements of voice marketing.
Want your customers to form a line to your door, either IRL or online?
Then study this article because it gives you the history of how to make your offering craveworthy.
Includes data, tactics and case studies.
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