Remember how excited everyone was at midnight on January 1, 2020? We all had high hopes and aspirations for a new and improved year. But the year has brought with it unexpected and trying challenges. As we enter the last quarter of 2020, many of us are getting tired of coping with the uncertainties that have been thrown at us. The harsh reality is that many struggling business owners can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. Every day more and more small businesses are closing before their prime.
While we at BlueLight Marketing understand that your marketing budgets may be limited as your business plans shift, we also understand every business needs some fundamental marketing components in place. So BlueLight Marketing has chosen to help businesses by focusing on one of our fundamental strengths: Marketing Strategy. Because we want to see you maintain customer relationships and grow your business, we’d like to share with you the most effective marketing tactics that will soon become a permanent addition to your marketing strategy. We at BlueLight Marketing use these each day to enhance our own company vision.
- Be There (do not disappear)
- Utilize Social Media MORE
- Be Found Online (SEO)
- Work Together
- Incorporate Virtual Meetings
- Spend (a little) Money
- Build Your Reputation
Be There -Visible or Present- (do not disappear)
I know that it would be easier to hide inside, or even close your doors rather than deal with all the unknowns. But you can’t disappear.
Think of all the hard work you’ve done to build your business. What about your staff, your customers, your community? They all need you. Be there for them.
Forget about finding the right words at this time. The best thing you can do is be honest with yourself and your people. With all the changes surrounding this pandemic, it’s okay to let your Facebook and your social media followers know you are accessible but may need to be flexible. Open up the lines of communication by asking your community what they need. If you are transparent and honest, your customers and your community will support you.
Utilize Social Media MORE
As I’m sure you know, social media is the place to be now more than ever, and it should always be part of your marketing strategy. Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or any social media platform you may use is a great way to stay visible and relevant. In fact, 51% of US adults are using social media more now than they were before the Covid-19 outbreak began.
Almost everyone is social distancing inside their homes, scrolling through their social media feeds and searching online. It’s important to stay connected with them on a regular basis. To do this, we at BlueLight Marketing recommend posting useful content and information that will engage your followers. It’s also important for you to start conversations that will allow customers the opportunity to share their thoughts and needs. Just remember that people crave connection, so make sure your business’s messaging is authentic and consistent. In return, your business will gain loyal customers.
Be Found Online (SEO)
You might be thinking that now is not the time to invest in Search Engine Optimization (SEO), but you need to make sure your business can be found. As we discussed, more and more people are staying close to home but are online, searching for local businesses that can fulfill their needs. It’s important to be visible when someone is searching for your products and/or services in their local area. Carefully chosen keywords and relevant content can be the difference between a potential customer reaching your website instead of the website of your competitors.
The good news is that SEO and Local SEO is a long-term strategy. What you do today can sustain your business for the future. SEO can help you build better relationships and drive more people to your website, ultimately helping your business grow. Remember that search engines aren’t perfect, and if you don’t take steps to handle problems, such as coding errors or link structures, your website will pay the price. That’s why it’s important to find a reputable marketing agency, like BlueLight Marketing, to help you navigate the complex world of search engines.
This is a great time for communities and businesses to work together to figure out how to help each other. Find out what others are doing to help their businesses stay afloat. Are they adding discounts or coupons? Offering live tutorials? What marketing tactics are they using? It’s okay to reach out. Remember, you have a lot to offer as well, so collaborate and share the knowledge!
Another great opportunity is to use your current customer base to grow your business. People are hesitant to commit to a company or product they do not know, so focus your efforts on reaching out to your current customers to gain new customers. When asking them to do something, always let your customers know that you appreciate their business. The easiest place to solicit new business is on Facebook. Ask Facebook followers to share your business information or offer “friends and family” discounts to help increase your followers.
We are all in this together, so let’s work together.
Incorporate Virtual Meetings
As marketers, we at BlueLight Marketing are very visual and hands on. We know that we need face-to-face interaction to get our point across, to close the deal. Honestly, incorporating virtual meetings was one of the hardest things I personally had to overcome. How was I going to share my marketing presentation? How could I make sure my client is engaged in the conversation? I knew that I had to meet with clients to continue to grow my own business, so I had to figure something out.
It became easy to hide behind technology: sending a text instead of making a call, sending an email since we couldn’t meet in person. Sound familiar? It wasn’t until I let my guard down that I discovered a whole new opportunity to get to know our clients. Suddenly I was able to have more marketing meetings than ever before, on the clients’ time, on their terms. And that’s exactly what they wanted. Meetings became more real, more personal. I discovered that with a few adjustments, I could still connect with people on a new personal level and gain new clients.
So, here’s my tip: Embrace this new way of reaching out and offer virtual meetings to everyone. While it can’t take the place of meeting in person, it will keep your relationship stronger than doing business via text or email. Also, learn the names of the kids and the pets, you’ll be seeing them soon, too.
Spend (a little) Money
If you need to reach customers but don’t have the large marketing budget to do it, now’s the time to test some targeted online ad options.
Pay-per-Click (PPC): This is a quick way to connect with consumers in your target area who are in need of your products or services. Choose a designated service area and a specific list of keywords that are relevant to your business, and only “pay” when a consumer shows interest (click). Since you can set your own budget, this is a great platform to see what products and services like yours are in most demand. As your marketing budget allows, turn the campaigns off and on.
Social Ads: Advertising on platforms like Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn are a great way to reach the customers you want. Because all social is not created equal, it’s important to know which platforms are popular with your specific target audience. Pew Research Center has a great Social Media Fact Sheet to help you out.
Similar to PPC, social ads are extremely targeted and cost effective for any marketing budget. Choose from a large variety of demographic factors to make your audience as broad or as narrow as you wish. Just remember, the narrower the audience the more money it may cost to reach them. Similar to PPC, you can direct the consumer to your website or social page to complete a purchase or request.
In either of the above cases, it’s always good to do some A/B testing whenever possible. This extra effort will help you determine what variables ̶ such as keywords or images or call to action ̶ work best, and which of these produces the best results.
Build Your Reputation
There is no better time than now to ask for feedback from your customers. Most of us are at home looking for something to do, so why not gather some positive reviews from your customers! The best way to do this is by sending your customers an email or text thanking them for their business, and asking them to leave you an online review. What if you have too many customers or aren’t sure of the feedback you’ll get? Now might be a great time to incorporate reputation management into your marketing strategy. Implementing this particular strategy can be a daunting task, so experts like BlueLight Marketing are here to help.
Once you have those glowing reviews, make sure to share them online. You can add them to your social media pages or even to your website. A positive reputation will help you stand out from your competition.
In Conclusion ...
One consistent fact is that Covid-19 will be sticking around for a while. With the new guidelines on social distancing and mask usage, it’s important to adjust your marketing strategy to include tactics that work, like keeping your business visible to customers and, more importantly, remaining open. We at BlueLight Marketing are experiencing the same issues. We understand the difficulty of staying relevant. We want to make sure every business owner has a chance to succeed. Feel free to reach out to us for any marketing assistance you may need during these unfamiliar and challenging times.
Mimi is the Director of Strategy at BlueLight Marketing & Advertising in New Orleans. She has more than 20 years experience working in marketing and advertising.