Beth Boen has more than 30 years of experience in sales, marketing and customer service. She is an award-winning marketer. She is also a professional trainer and customer experience consultant. Beth loves helping people build long-term, loyal relationships that produce quality connections in their business that lead to lifetime customers and endless referrals. Beth helps people do this through her thoughtful blogs and training curriculum. Members of SHE Leads Group have access to more in-depth business development training through presentations at meetings from Beth, her curriculum, and guest trainers. In addition to being the Founder of SHE Leads Group, Beth has had a training and consulting business, The Voice Customer Experience, that she started in 2005.
Tips to stay active in marketing!
By: Beth Boen, Founder SHE Leads Group & Lori Dubois, Owner of Marketing Troubadour
During a time when consumer spending will undoubtedly be lower, different industries will be impacted in different ways. Regardless of what type of business you have, however, you will feel the effects of Coronavirus. What can you do as a business owner to continue to grow your business when people are worried and uncertain?
Here are some very important tips on why and how to stay active in your own marketing:
- Don’t assume everyone will stop buying. Assuming no one will buy now is a big mistake. Some people will still have the means to buy, and those who do will know how important it is to buy to support the local economy. Not everyone is being laid off temporarily. Even for those who will struggle financially, they still need goods and services and may be looking for creative ways to save money on what they need.
- People may have extra time to work on or finish things they have procrastinated. Many times, people are more limited on time than money. Think of what your target market may have been procrastinating to get done that you can help them out with.
- People are going to be more aware of their budgets, but for some businesses that can work in their favor. If you are an insurance agent, people now might be looking at how they can save money to help decrease their monthly budget. They will be more willing to hear the benefits of shopping for better insurance rates. If you are a mortgage lender, people might be thinking about refinancing to lower their monthly payments.
- People need resources. During a tough time, people need extra information and resources. Even if they don’t need your services or products right now, they will appreciate you being a resource to refer them to things they need, and it will keep you top of mind.
- When the economy does turn back around, you don’t want your business to have lost touch and been silent. People will remember who helped them out, who stayed in touch, and who had the best customer service and customer care during this time. If you stay in front of people in a non-sales-y way, their trust in you increases.
- Take extra time you might have to work on your marketing plan. If you already have a marketing plan, look at how might you need to adjust it. If your plan is more strategic and conceptual, create a detailed editorial calendar to support it. If your plan is mostly tactical, work backward to create a strategic direction from it.
- Identify new opportunities and market to them now. There is absolutely nothing wrong with leveraging new opportunities. This is what smart marketers do. For example, if you are an organizer/downsizer, someone may now be working from home and realize their make-shift office area is a disaster area. Perhaps run a special to help work from home people get their home office area organized and productive.
- Offer online classes and trainings. While people are self-isolating, they may have more opportunities to stay engaged by learning something. Bonus: the “something” they learn from you can be the introduction to the rest of your services.
- Batch your content. If you find yourself with bigger blocks of time, or a schedule you can control more now, block some time to kick out a lot of content. Pick your most creative time of day, determine how much to get done (how many blog posts, how many social media posts, how many newsletters, etc.), and go for it! It’s amazing how you can keep going once you are in the right state of mind.
- Do a website review. Spend some time doing an analysis of your website. Whether a quick glance or more thorough review, how often do you have time to deal with your website? Jot down typos you find, out of date information, gaps in information, images that need to be changed, or ideas for new pages that need to be created. Do your own changes if you are able or have your vendor make them for you. Decide you need a refresh or completely new site? This may be the perfect time to research and meet (virtually) with a website developer.
- Ask for recommendations. Do some yourself. Updating testimonials often gets pushed aside when we are busy, but is an important marketing activity. Go back through your records and contact customers who may be willing to help you out. Review your email and social media to find things people have already said about working with you.
- Stay in touch/reach out to prospects, clients, past clients, referral partners and/or former prospective clients who never bought. What a nice surprise for them when you simply pick up the phone and check in with them (with no sales agenda). Ask them how they are doing. Have a discussion. Ask them if there is anything you can do for them. This effort can WOW them and they might ask if you need anything in return. This is an opportunity to let them know how during this time you will be relying heavily on referrals. Make a point to connect with everyone by phone and then schedule them for follow up touches every 3-4 weeks. A touch can be emailing them an article link that is of interest to them, a hand written note, or even a small gift. If you do get referrals, make sure you properly thank the person for the referral. A note on prospects – they may decide to “hold off” with their purchase. You could offer a special, payment plans, or simply stay in touch for when things do turn around. If they are holding off, think of what can you do to stay in touch to be of value to them. Don’t let them forget about you and don’t you forget about them.
- If you have extra time on your hands and you haven’t done so already, get your social media going! Don’t be selling – be helpful! Find and share helpful/educational articles, humorous memes, caring memes, etc. Write some helpful blogs and tease them in your email newsletter, which also can feed into your social media. If it is appropriate to run a special, it is ok to announce it on your social media and email newsletter, just make sure the majority of your touches are of the helpful variety, not the salesy variety.
- Do some prospecting. Use LinkedIn for prospecting new potential clients or referral partners and ask for introductions through the connections you discover. Download lists from your library website of potential customers and do online research on them to further qualify.
- Do some competitive intelligence. One of the most underutilized marketing resources is knowing what your competitors are doing and what your industry is doing. Use the internet, hire a secret shopper, sign up for your competitor’s newsletter, or research articles through library databases on current news and also future trends and projections in your industry.
- Provide exceptional customer service, not just with your customers and prospects, but also your referral partners, vendors and as a customer yourself! Have exceptional follow up and follow through. When times are tight, people will be easily turned off by off-putting salespeople and poor customer service. Return phone calls and emails promptly. Under promise and over deliver. Actively listen and don’t interrupt people. Use good manners. Say please and thank you. When you call people to stay in touch, let them know the purpose of your call and ask them if it is a good time to talk. “Debbie, I am just calling to see how you are doing with everything going on. Is now a good time to talk?”
- Learn more about marketing. Take advantage of free or paid webinars or online classes. Spend some quality time on your library website learning from programs such as Lynda or Gale Classes.
- Finally, think of your referral partners who are in your networking and leads groups. Be each other’s sales team. Be acutely aware of what you could do for each person in your leads group. You may not be an obvious referral partner to one another, but there are probably other ways in which you can be a support to each other. Something as simple as bouncing an idea off of another person, or helping them figure out how to use remote meeting technology can be a huge help.
Remember, if you go dead silent during this time and your competitor stays heard, when economic conditions do improve, you will have been forgotten and your competitor will get the business.