What’s the best way of marketing your small business in lockdown? It’s a strange new world out there, with everyone staying home and normal sales channels closed. With this new series of articles, Rosie Johns will help you lock down a new marketing strategy for your small business. We’ll cover a range of topics such as social media and email marketing for small business, as well as lockdown content, discounts and offers, and maintaining customer loyalty in lockdown. Whether you’re working solo or managing a small team, these tips, techniques and tutorials will help you boost the online presence of your business, reach new audiences and maintain your vital income throughout the lockdown.
So far in these how-to guides we’ve looked at mastering social media and email marketing, as well as the kinds of content you can create and share during lockdown. In today’s guide we’re looking at something a little more tricky – how to maintain customer loyalty in lockdown.
If you’re used to having a physical base for your business, it’s not easy transitioning to an all-online way of working. And for your customers, who are accustomed to visiting your shop (or workshop, or creative space) it’s not easy either. In order to make sure you’re keeping their interest and loyalty, there’s a number of things you can do.
Be sensitive to your customers’ needs – it might be tempting (especially as we’ve now learnt all about how to market ourselves on social media and in emails) to blast out lots of salesy messages encouraging people to spend money. And yes, ultimately sales are the aim! But in the current climate, there are people who are struggling. Not everyone still has the amount of disposable income they’re used to. Also, the stress and worry of the ongoing crisis aren’t going to help people feel like splashing out. So try to be sensitive and vocal about these issues when you communicate with your customers. To do this you could:
- Offer your email subscribers the option of ‘snoozing’ your email campaigns for a month or two
- Publish feel-good content for people to enjoy (there are some ideas in the lockdown content article) so you’re not always simply promoting your products / services
- Consider offering free postage or a small discount – offers are always a brilliant incentive for sales, but you can make them seem more personal by including a thoughtful message, such as:
We’re dedicated to sending happy mail – stay at home and we’ll post your order for free
- You could even do something really relevant and special, like donating a portion of your profit to a charity that needs extra support at the moment, or sending a small item to a nominated key worker every time someone places an order. You’re really only limited by your creativity!
Don’t bombard people – I’ve said before that consistency is the key to successful marketing. And this is true! It’s a good idea to regularly keep in touch with your audience, whether that’s through social media, email or your website. But don’t go overboard.
Put together a content planner. This way you can keep a really close eye on how regular your marketing activity is. Start by planning out the next month: try to think of one good email campaign, and something to post on social media every day (or every few days, if this is too much). Your next step can be creating a broader 6 or 12-month planner, where you can feature key campaigns such as product launches and sales.
Make your audience feel connected – good content will help your audience feel closer to you and your brand, and that’s exactly what you should be aiming to achieve in lockdown. It could involve something as simple as recording a quick Instagram story about a project you’ve been working on. Anything that gives an insight into who you are and what you’re offering is just a brilliant tool.
If you’re feeling ambitious, try hosting virtual get-togethers or webinars (there’s lots of easy software out there you can use, like Zoom). Or if you’re looking for something simpler, just write a paragraph or two about how the last few days or weeks have been going. Talk about what your plans are for the future – knowing about your hopes and ideas will help your audience feel invested. And if you’re unsure which way to go, you can always ask your loyal followers for advice! Getting their insight can be as easy as setting up a poll on Facebook or Twitter, and will make them feel valued.
The key take-away from all this is to stay visible: your audience won’t engage with you and spend money if they don’t know whether they can reach you, or whether you’re even taking orders in lockdown. Keeping everything (your social channels, your website and anywhere else you’re advertising your business) up-to-date is the first and most crucial step in maintaining customer loyalty in lockdown. Beyond that, just be yourself and get creative!
Rosie has six years’ experience in marketing and communications, specialising in the arts and creative sectors. She has worked for companies including Cardiff’s Chapter Arts Centre and independent book publishers Seren.