The government may have deemed your business “non-essential,” but for your business to survive, and even thrive, you must still remain “essential” in the minds of your customers.
How to Ensure that Your Business Remains Essential to Your Target Audience
- Determine What Your Audience Needs NOW
You may have done target market research and identified the needs of your target audience in the past, but now you must review and determine if and how these needs have changed.
Gyms that have provided respite for mothers after dropping their kids off at school, are not only offering Facebook Live videos to continue their exercise regimens at home, many are also starting Facebook Groups, some soley for paying members, to access these videos. These groups also provide a place to keep in touch with the community and offer respite from homeschooling and the other stresses of lost income, being cooped up with loved ones 24/7 and worrying about how these times are going to affect their lives overall.
What changes are your audience experiencing in their personal and professional lives?
- loss of income;
- more (or less) discretionary time;
- working from home;
- homeschooling children;
- loss of access to usual resources (material, social, financial, etc.);
- anxious about the future for themselves and their families.
What do you offer now that can address these changed needs?
What new offerings can you develop to better meet these changed needs?
- Develop New Ways to Deliver Your Services or Products
Even if your business is already delivering products or services online, what you focus on, as well as how and when you deliver this, may need to change to be more inline with the current needs of your audience.
Instead of showing another rerun, Saturday Night Live delivered new content, recorded in advance by cast members in their own homes, using props available under the circumstances. This showed their audience and advertisers that they are committed to providing fresh, timely content no matter what.
How can you change the way you deliver your offerings to better meet the current needs of your audience?
- services that are usually delivered in person that can be delivered by phone, email or face to face using online meeting applications;
- bundles of products or products with services that are essential or will make the current situation more bearable;
- turn physical services/products into virtual products;
- curbside, contactless pick-up;
- local delivery (by your own staff or courier service);
- post or national/international courier.
If you don’t have the resources (technical skill, budget, access) to develop the needed delivery challenges, can you partner with someone who does? International grocery chain Aldi teamed with Instacart and similar providers to quickly gain the ability to deliver to customers’ homes.
- Communicate with Your Audience
Let your current customers and prospects know that you realize that their needs have changed and how you are changing the way you do business to meet those needs.
Ace Hardware’s monthly direct mailing to loyalty club members notes that they remain open and offer pickup in store or curbside as well as home delivery, and include a coupon to provide incentive to shop with them.
What existing channels do you have to communicate with your audience?
- social media
- “traditional” media (newspapers, magazines, TV/radio, billboard, in-store, etc.)
- direct mail
Are your existing communication channels still relevant to your audience?
Do you need to put new channels in place to meet new needs?
Don’t forget to pause any existing campaigns that are now irrelevant or may seem insensitive to the current situation.
- Maintain Your Relationship with Customers and Prospects Through Continuous “Virtual Contact”
Use existing channels or develop new channels relevant to your audience to maintain engagement and communication on a regular basis, in a time frame suited to your audience.
If you don’t already have the following in place, consider any of the following that are relevant to your audience and to your offerings:
- adding a blog or news section on your website;
- building an email marketing database — if you have a mailing list and haven’t been in touch for over a year, it would be good to clear this out and start new;
- setting up social media channels relevant to your audience;
- developing a physical newsletter;
- joining groups relevant to your audience by industry, location and/or special interest.
For these channels to be most effective, use your existing channels (including invoices, packaging, etc.) to get the word out about the new channels and ask for your audience to follow, join, etc. in order to engage with you.
A global pandemic has forced many to learn new ways to do business, but the real lesson to be learned is that businesses that focus on the needs of their customers, and can quickly adjust their strategies accordingly, will always be “essential” and have the greatest success.