Ok so this probably sounds kind of crazy, but, to make a long story short, the current climate of global pandemics and government-enforced Netflix binges could actually be a pretty neat opportunity if you can switch quickly into a more online-based business.
Yeah, we know what you’re thinking but hear us out! Keep reading below and figure out what the current COVID-19 situation could mean for your business and/or wider industry and a few ways you can take advantage of the opportunities. Because let’s be honest, we’re all about those silver linings at the moment.
Local tradies such as electricians and plumbers should still be able to maintain business amid the lockdown.
Home repairs are pretty unavoidable, and with everyone spending more time at home chances are what may seem like minor issues may cause bigger headaches given people are having to put up with it day in day out.
However, people may still be scared and unsure whether they can even get a tradesperson over so there are still a few things you can do marketing-wise to help overcome these fears and ensure business keeps rolling.
- Communicate clearly & consistently. Make sure any marketing assets – we’re talking your website, email signature, quotes, social media, advertising etc. – includes messaging around COVID19 and the steps you’re taking to ensure the health and safety of your customers and the wider community.
- Offer online consults where possible. For straightforward jobs, you may be able to avoid actually going to the house to quote. Instead, you could offer a contactless consult and just ask them to show you anything you need over a video call.
- Maintain your online marketing. If enquiries are slowing, you’ll probably start thinking of ways to cut costs, and marketing is often the first thing to go. But if you do cut all your marketing you can pretty much guarantee any work you had coming in will dry up pretty quickly. Instead, focus on what’s giving you leads, refine your offering & messaging, and increase your ad spend.
- Get creative. People are craving inspiration and connectivity and they don’t really care where it comes from. If you can create content that showcases your charming personality and builds a connection, you’ll come out on top.
It’s no secret that the hospitality industry is taking an almighty beating from the measures required to lower the risk of further cases of COVID-19. Many stores are going out of business entirely or laying off their staff in an attempt to keep the business afloat despite the traditionally small margins the hospitality industry operates on.
Still, those that adapt quickly to the changing needs can still survive and even thrive. I mean if you can uncover a profitable online business model while saving on costly overheads and staffing then you could actually end up better off than pre-COVID19.
So how can you make the most of the current situation?
- First off, you’re probably going to need to offer delivery. It’s pretty unavoidable and a no-brainer given our restaurants, cafes, pubs, bars, and clubs are not actually allowed to be open for dine-in options at the moment. If you’re not already, it’s a good time to get onto delivery platforms like UberEats or Deliveroo, which will undoubtedly be getting smashed right now. Alternatively, you can also look at setting up your own delivery system, just make sure you can do this confidently and effectively. The last thing you want to do is screw up the job and scare off what customers you have.
- Provide a “zero contact” pickup option. At the moment, we may still be allowed to leave the house but we’re all trying to avoid actually coming into contact with each other. To combat this setup space where people can easily pick up their takeaway orders without touching anything other than their food/drink. Bonus points for providing hand sanitizer to help people feel more at ease when collecting their orders.
- Put in place new health & hygiene measures and update your customers. Hospitality businesses that are still operating have to adhere to new guidelines around food service. Put up signs and make sure everyone working is fully across these new policies. Then share these updates with your customers to help build a bit of trust and remove the fear. Your customers just want to feel safe right now.
- Entice customers with creative new offerings. People will flock to places that provide the best experience because we’re all looking for something to talk (or post) about at the moment. You really want to look for ways you can inject value and add something a little special or different to your offering. For example, if you’re a bar, maybe bottle up your best-selling cocktails and pair them with the perfect bar snacks for Friday night iso drinks delivered to your door. Now is the time to try something different and see what works.
- Find new ways to go live. This is more so for the hospitality businesses that usually thrive off social events. But just because you can’t run in-person events doesn’t mean you can’t start organising some online ones… we’re all going to be at home online anyway. A few things we’ve seen pop up include live-streamed quiz nights, live-streamed bingo, live-streamed how-to’s and cooking demos, and live-streamed live music. Get creative and find ways to engage your loyal patrons online. People will be grateful for any opportunity to feel like they’re connecting with the wider community.
- Leverage digital content. Hospitality is so much about the experience. But without the ability to offer this in person, you’re going to need to rely more on online content to share stories and engage people. If you’re not already, invest in some quality brand collateral – photos, videos, etc. – and start posting social updates every day on your key platforms (mainly Facebook & Instagram).
- Don’t be afraid to test and scale up with social advertising. Advertising through Facebook and Instagram is a great way to test new offerings and messaging quickly and see what works. Then once you’ve found that winning combo, refine your audience and ramp up your spend.
Professional Services & Consulting
With many losing their jobs or facing the reality of closing businesses amid the turmoil of an increasingly erratic economy, the need for professional services that help businesses and individuals navigate these challenging times is going to go through the roof.
Those offering leadership and advice during this time will come out on top in the long run. But if everyone’s feeling the pinch, how can you get paid work?
- Give more. Creating free content and offering free initial consults can be a huge boon to any business as it will build major trust and authority which will be a deciding factor in where customers go when the economy, and the world, recovers.
- Diversify your service offering. Look at the current needs of your audience and see if you can create a lower-cost product or service to fill that space. The reality is some people will just not have the funds to hire a consultant even though they know they need it. They might have enough to purchase an eBook, online course or a few 20-minute consults, though. Chances are if you can provide some value at a lower price point, they’ll be back for more down the track.
- Have a voice. As we’ve mentioned, people are searching for professionals with the confidence and knowledge to lead them through such uncertain times. It’s now more important than ever to make your voice heard in order to establish yourself as a thought leader in your field. Start writing blogs, sharing more content on social media and booking podcast interviews. Do whatever you can to get out there and talk about what you know.
Most retail stores are now closed but there is still PLENTY of opportunities online. In fact, some would argue that online shopping is going to increase with so many of us twiddling our thumbs at home searching for fulfilment through our next purchase.
However, there is still undoubtedly going to be a dip across non-essential purchases just due to all the uncertainty and job loss we’re seeing. So what can retailers do to ramp up the online side of their business?
- Make sure your website is user-friendly. You might not want to think about paying for any web development work right now but the reality is that if your site is not set up for an easy online shopping experience, you’re going to have a very tough time getting online sales. If you’re unsure, ask friends, family and staff to test the site and see if it’s up to scratch. Make note of any issues and chat with a web developer to see what can be done.
- Offer free delivery and returns. This is really all about removing as many barriers as possible. Right now some customers may already be feeling a bit disgruntled for being forced online. If you hit them with hefty delivery & return charges, they could just decide it’s not worth it. Don’t give them a reason to leave!
- Assure people that it’s (pretty much) business as usual. It’s pretty darn scary out in the world at the moment. Everyone’s quietly freaking out and really craving assurance in every aspect of their life. Tell them the online store is still open and operating as usual. Because if you don’t they’ll be wondering and the uncertainty may be enough for them to scare them off.
- Be open about any delivery delays or service disruptions. If things aren’t business as usual, make it clear. Transparency is key right now because people can’t handle any more uncertainty. If there are going to be delays, be open about it. Customers won’t be coming back anytime soon if you promised 5 days delivery and it took 5 weeks.
- Boost your social media activity. We’ve said it before, but right now you want to be getting more active across your social media channels. For one, there’s going to be a lot of noise to compete with so you need to start doing more if you want to be heard. On the other hand, you’ve also got more people spending a lot more time on social media so it’s the perfect time to be more active. Again, invest in quality content and post daily across your key platforms like Facebook and Instagram to keep your brand top of mind.
- Identify any in-demand product categories. We’ve already seen a lot of large businesses crack under increasing demand. Kmart is fresh out of fitness equipment, Officeworks has run out of desks, and well, pretty much everywhere is out of hand soap and sanitiser. Think about what people might want and need right now, secure the stock, and then ramp up promotions to drive increased sales.
- Provide discounts and sales if needed. If you have noticed a major drop-off, you might have to bite the bullet and offer some discounts to get people back. Leverage your loyal customer base and let them know about new sales through social media and email marketing. We’re all suckers for a good deal and that’s not going to change.
- Tap into the power of influencers. No matter your niche, there are bound to be influencers with a direct line to your ideal customer base. Now is the perfect time to chuck them a line and tee up some content to let people know you are still open and help drive traffic to your store. You could also look at sending a few products as gifts to influencers you know will love what you’re offering. Chances are they’ll give you a shout out on their channels, especially if it shows heart, creativity and personalisation.
- Spend on ads. Yep, we’ll say it again, for most retailers social advertising is really the best way to scale things up quickly and build some much-needed hype. Just make sure you’re tracking everything so you can quickly switch off anything that isn’t getting results.
Property & Real Estate
For real estate, things are going to get a bit tricky. Obviously, the housing market is taking a few hits and buying a new home or property can be tricky if you’re not able to leave your own home.
As such, the places people are still going to for their real estate fix is online. This makes digital advertising a massive section of the real estate space, with savvy sellers being able to make better usage of their digital presence.
- Make it easy to book private viewings. Public home opens and auctions are now banned, but for now, you can still arrange property inspections by private appointment. The more barriers you can remove around this, the better, so set up a landing page or add a booking form to your website. Do whatever you can to make it as easy as possible for potential buyers to book a private viewing.
- Invest in 3d tours and video walkthroughs. If people can’t come to you, give them a lifelike tour of the property which they can view in the comfort of their own home.
- Make sure all your visual assets are up to scratch. Let’s face it, you’ll probably be doing most of your selling via online means so while you may have gotten away with average photos pre-lockdown, it’s not going to cut it now. Pay attention to styling and pay for professional photos to ensure you’re presenting each property in its absolute best light.
- Get creative with Social Ads. Use those quality visual assets to showcase properties features via carousel ads on Facebook & Instagram. Then capture prospective buyers’ info via Facebook lead forms.
- Leverage your list. Keep talking to people already in your marketing ecosystem because you never know when one of those potential buyers may become ready to engage. Send regular emails, reinforce opportunities and benefits, and continue to direct people to book private viewings.
- Go live. There is an opportunity to engage people at mass by live streaming. Run a “Ask Me Anything” session, conduct a live property walkthrough, or interview an expert. Think of how you can add value and educate potential buyers then use the live stream function to engage people in real-time and generate more conversations. Done right, this is a great way to present yourself as an authority and leader in the space.
In the face of an uncertain future, people, customers, clients, humans are naturally going to gravitate towards securing what they value most, first. For many businesses, this could potentially be a death-knell.
But it doesn’t have to be. Remodelling the business so that it caters to the NEEDS of your customers can, and will, be the difference between success and failure in 2020. Having the right advertising behind that and understanding how to utilise the digital technology available is equally crucial.
If you want to talk more about how you might be able to pivot towards more online revenue streams and market your business better digitally, we’re here to help. Given the current situation, we’re now offering free 30-minute strategy calls with Matt Hanham, CEO of Visible. Book yours now!