The shutdowns and restrictions will eventually come to an end. When they do, consumers are going to begin wondering which of the companies they relied upon in the past are still around. You want to be top-of-mind when that happens, so now is the time to be marketing.
What’s made Covid bearable for you?
In trying to find the magic bullet for reaching your current customers, and perhaps winning some new ones, think about what has been meaningful for you during this unusual time. What meant something, made you feel better, got your attention? Those are good places to start your marketing ideas.
Many people have said they rediscovered the value of friendships and personal interaction during Covid-19. Being denied the opportunity to socialize has made any conversation important. You have the chance to make an impact by touching people’s lives. Remember that marketing is not about sales – it’s about building relationships.
Pull up your client list from your POS system and start making phone calls. Just ask how your customers are doing. Don’t push services or pricing; be interested in their lives. Be empathetic. Be friendly. Be warm. And if there’s something you can actually do to help them, do it – like use your route driver to pick up something for a shut-in who needs it badly. They will remember. And you will feel better for having served them this way.
Go old school
Before the internet and digital marketing and instant messages, there was old school promotion – window signage, direct mailings, door hangers. People are bombarded by email and phone message pings, robocalls and other intrusions. A more gentle approach can break through all that chatter.
Take a look at your storefront. Are you still displaying the same posters and signs you were a year ago? They’re not relevant any more. They also are nearly invisible to people passing by because they’ve seen them so often. No change could mean you’re not even in business any more. Freshen up the windows. Make a big change, something visual and appealing that says, “We’re alive and kicking, and ready to clean your clothes!”
Send out a targeted postcard to areas you want to increase business in, and introduce your company to them as if they’d never heard of you. Use light humour, fun images, and short copy to get them interested. Include your all-important contact numbers/website/email address.
Design a hang-tag and have your route drivers take them door to door in neighbourhoods where you already have a customer. “One of your neighbours uses our services, and we’d be happy to include you in our free pick-up and delivery service.” Blanket the area. Include a list of what you do, and make it easy for them to contact you.
Don’t ignore digital
Online is here to stay. The pandemic converted a huge percentage of the population to doing business over the internet, whether it was making purchases or arranging for services. Marketing experts don’t expect that to ever go away. How’s your digital footprint these days?
Spruce up your website. Change some colours, put in new images, include new pages. Have a ‘Q&A’ section about garment and textile care – and don’t be afraid to seed it with your own questions until you get some coming in.
Do a video showing your excellent equipment, your cheerful staff, and some of the garments you’ve cleaned to perfection. Post it to your website. Video is almost expected these days. Shoot it with your phone even, but do it well. Be personable and approachable. Seeing your staff on a video, and then in person later, almost makes them ‘celebrities’ to your customers.
Up your game on Facebook. Yes, you need to be there. But be more relational right now, less promotional. Highlight good things going on in your community and salute them. Post the questions from your Q&A section, but not the answer – give a link to take them to the answers on your website. Engage people by asking provocative questions, having encouraging quotes or human interest stories in your posts.
Nobody’s strategic plan included a prolonged national and international crisis like Covid-19, so don’t feel badly that it caught you flat-footed. Your job now is to be sure you’re ready to come out of hibernation when the restrictions are lifted and have your customers ready to follow you.
Four of the wisest words ever spoken were, “This, too, shall pass.” Start waving your arms so everyone knows you are not only alive, but excitedly watching for the dawn of new business soon.
Becca Anderson spent 17 years in public relations, advertising and corporate PR before joining Fabricare Canada in 2000. She was named editor in 2013, and welcomes feedback about the magazine via the contact form on this site.