By Guest blogger KeyWest Video
At this point, small businesses have had a year to adjust to marketing during COVID-19. You’ve probably already figured out your strategy through trial and error since it’s pretty hard to plan ahead during a pandemic. There have been some noticeable trends: During 2020, email marketing, websites, and social media marketing were the accounts most likely to be tackled internally. This may already have been the case for your business, but even larger companies were asking employees to fill these roles. Now that we’re a few months into 2021, what other marketing trends have emerged and what’s working?
This one’s a no-brainer. Since the first time we were asked to stay home last March, people have turned to online buying to satisfy everything from basic needs to indulgent treats. If you didn’t already have a robust online presence, chances are that was your first priority in a bid to stay alive during the pandemic. Whether your challenge was to create a website that could showcase a huge inventory or figuring out how to offer online payment, those who could adapt quickly were ahead of the game. And such changes could payoff in the long run, too. Nobody is sure when this pandemic will end and what consumer trends will endure. Will you keep shopping online or will you return to shopping in-person? With a website that allows customers to do either, you put yourself in a good position.
The Canadian government has recognized the importance of supporting small businesses across the course of COVID-19. There have been a number of programs designed to help shops adapt to the new consumer landscape and stay afloat. One example is what’s being done to support home-based food businesses in Ontario. A guide on starting such a business, a review of public health requirements, and regulatory changes are all part of the plan. Low-risk foods that are eligible include baked goods and even trade magazines are alerting readers to the possibilities. Another form of government support is the Digital Main Street platform. This is a $57-million program is helping nearly 23,000 Ontario businesses get their online presence consumer-ready while also generating jobs.
Supporting Small Businesses
There has been a huge push to support shopping local during COVID-19. We all want to keep our area businesses running so they’re still part of the neighbourhood post-pandemic. Make sure you let the people around you know that you’re still open to serve their needs. Catch the eye of any pedestrians or drivers with a sign in the window that says OPEN or CURBSIDE PICKUP or anything else sending the message that your business is still operating. Then make sure you’re keeping people updated online through your website and social media channels—that’s the first place they’re likely to look for information. Now that you have their attention, cater to their needs. Do you have at-home DIY kits or care packages? Can they shop sale items on your website? Will you deliver? Take some time to think about your products and services and how they might be best-presented given the current situation
Reflecting the Times
There’s no denying that marketing has changed in the last year and your advertising should reflect what’s going on in the world and in your specific location. It’s best to keep things positive, inspirational, and hopeful. The hard sell is not a good idea right now. It’s also not the time to come off as insensitive or exploitative. Your store may be selling masks for the first time ever, but don’t offer them at a 300% markup. There’s a collective responsibility to be aware of what’s going on in the world and to respect that people have experienced some incredible hardships. Make sure the tone and language of your marketing accounts for world events. Here are some stats that may help you remember what consumers are asking for right now:
87% of consumers appreciate brands that go out of their way to deliver timely and relevant information
89% of Gen Z and Millennials expect brands to step up and support initiatives that help those hit hard by the pandemic
40% of consumers say humour is not the right marketing approach
23% of consumers are planning to keep watching more livestreaming videos even after the pandemic. We’ve definitely seen an uptick in online events and webinars and we plan to keep offering those services.
Maybe the most important thing to remember about marketing during the pandemic is to be flexible! We’ve all had to learn how to adapt to a very different way of living, both as consumers and as business owners. Rather than planning for a year of marketing, you may need to plan for a month or two. The best thing you can do is pay attention to customer needs and find a way to meet them during COVID-19. One final reminder: Check for any marketing that may be sent out automatically to make it still relevant. A birthday greeting inviting a customer to come in for a shared plate of nachos is probably not the message you want to send—or receive—right now.
There’s never been a better time for your company to take advantage of marketing support. Contact our in-house team at Trellis Business Services today. We can provide well-written content for your business, website design and development and 360 business support. Let us help you grow your business.