COVID-19 has changed the way small business owners operate. While we can’t know what the future retail landscape will look like, it’s time to plan for a post-COVID-19 reality. Start by getting back to basics: generate renewed brand awareness, find the right customers and earn their loyalty. Here’s how you can lay the groundwork and grow your business.
Generate brand awareness
Now is the time to prioritize extending your brand relevance. That means finding ways to encourage engagement and drive sales.
Share more with your customers
What does that look like in the real world? Keep in touch with your customers, but don’t inundate them with product messaging. Let people know what’s going on with your business:
- Has your offering expanded or changed?
- How are your operations still influenced by COVID-19?
- Have you had to adapt your store or the ways you serve customers?
Share messages about more than just products
To show customers your values, consider participating in causes – like walks and runs – to raise money for charities you care about. If it’s relevant to your brand, take a stand on a social or political issue. Post guest content to inform your customers about why it matters. No matter what you do to generate brand awareness, develop a voice that sounds like a person – not a corporation. Be sure to make it easy to share information about who you are and what your business stands for.
For a deep dive into brand relevance, watch our video, How to build your brand by supporting a cause.
Find the right customers
Making a sale is never guaranteed, but to have a chance, you’ve got to get people in the door or onto your website. To increase your odds of landing a sale, the right people need to be coming in. To zero in on the customers most likely to want your product, you need to know who your target audience is.
Target customers using demographics
Capture as many demographic details as possible and identify common needs of the people in those groups. Are your customers primarily single or do they have kids? Do you know if they live near your location? Your goal is to deliver the right message at the right time. The more you know about the people you’re targeting, the more likely your message will resonate.
Target customers with postal code data
If you don’t have demographic information, a postal code (which you have already collected via your shipping data) can generate insights about those neighbourhoods – and by extension the people who live there.
Reach customers with an integrated marketing campaign
When you know who you’re trying to attract, an integrated marketing campaign may generate the best response. Why? Neighbourhood Mail stands out.
If your business relied more heavily on social media during COVID-19 than before, adding direct mail to your digital campaigns could generate added benefits over the long term. For example, if you’re announcing your reopening online, a print campaign sent to homes within a certain radius of your business could help drive the foot traffic you need to your brick-and-mortar store. If you have a special online offer, sale or promotion, an integrated direct mail campaign can drive more people to your website.
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Loyalty starts with trust, so follow through on all the promises you make to your customers. Ensure that your product quality is consistently good, all your channels accurately reflect your products and that you respect delivery windows. That’s your baseline.
Go the extra mile for your customers
To keep customers committed to your brand over the long term, you’ll need to go a bit further. Be true to your brand and its purpose, but look for new ways to make your customers’ lives easier. Show them that you realize their lives are different now and that you know that they are still adjusting to a changed environment.
Listen to your customers
What insights did you learn about your shoppers during COVID-19? When they interacted with you on social media, or with your customer service department, what resonated most with your team? Find ways to address your customers’ concerns and obstacles – even after the worst has passed.
Know who your customers are
Know who your audience is – this is critical. Are they parents with young kids at home? DIY renovators? Your audience has interests, pain points and needs that extend far beyond your products. Now is the time to connect with them and support them through your communications. Could you do so in a regular newsletter or a blog? Time invested in these communications will highlight your brand’s commitment to its customers, not just your product’s value, and encourage them to shop with you over your competitors.
Let customers know who you are
Consider using your channels to show how you’re taking care of your employees and customers. If supporting you means supporting a business that’s community-minded, customers will see the value in that.
As shoppers and business owners begin to return to ‘business as usual’, there is a new ‘usual’ to consider and being mindful of this fact will set you apart for your existing and potential customers.
Looking for more tips to help your grow?
Learn how to build relationships when selling online.Read our blog