Updated: Dec 30, 2020
This OutDo Work September marketing meet-up, I met with Amanda Ryynanen of Dream Vacations. Among other things we talked about both the perils and opportunities of opening a business during a pandemic, particularly a Covid unfriendly one such as a travel agency or even a co-working space (basically any company that encourages socialization in any way shape or form). However, with anxieties rising and falling, and loneliness as a real side-effect, social engagement and the mental health obtained from close (and even loose) ties is arguably more important than ever. And as with a travel agency or somewhere to be able to dress-up and go to in the morning, something to look forward to during these times is worth it's weight in well, gold (also coincidentally on the rise).
So, as new business owners, while we know and intrinsically understand the societal and community benefits, why do we feel so darn hesitant during these times to market our business? In addition to fear of judgement, actually, that's mostly it, judgement! Fear of appearing insensitive, or simply wrong for promoting what has become an almost radical notion, being around people or making purchases.
However, as we spoke, we both realize that these local, community tailored offerings are more important than ever. I strongly believe that we can be sensitive and maliable to the times without having to resort to extremes. Anyone for a moderate approach? If we can understand that there is a new normal, and work with it rather than against it or ignoring it altogether, there is no reason not to market our goods and services in a proactive and even exciting way. There are just a few things to keep in mind that came up in our discussion that I thought I would share with you.
Create super targeted communications. Rather than blanket promotions to everyone, this is really a good time to get specific in who you communicate to. Even better, targeted communications is one of the most effective marketing strategy you can implement in terms of return on your marketing dollar. Not sure who to target? That is the beauty of marketing testing. Pick an audience, ex: female mothers, ages 25-35 with an interest in health. Then, tailor an offering to that group, ex: mom's day out: Pilates + wine tasting, so those who see the advertising find your ad super relevant to them. It's kinda hard to be annoyed by that, right? Amanda and I brainstormed about the different groups of people she could start to bucket (ex: newly engaged females), and what offerings/ creative packages they might pay for, (ex: girls road-trip/weekend out).
Reward your best and most loyal customers. The tried and testing idea that 80% of your profit comes from 20% of your business. With much uncertainty, I feel people are less likely to try something new. If you are a new company, like we are, this means marketing to your close network (referral marketing), those that already trust and know you. Amanda and I brainstormed about how she could communicate her offerings to her close network who happens to include newly engaged females, and how it would resonate with them, so they could share with their network. Another great source of referral marketing has been through our local Buffalo Chamber of Commerce. We highly recommend joining.
Embrace the new normal. While many aspects of daily life are fading away, many are becoming better than before. Examples include more quality family time, less aggravating commute time, more road-trips and smaller edited meeting groups, just to name a few. Companies that are making it work are coming up with creative solutions and work arounds. Ex: Article about a Minneapolis bar (among others) that started to make and sell sanitizer. This leaves a lot of room for creative offerings and marketing. One thing we have done at OutDo Work is to offer monthly, cancel anytime memberships to alleviate commitment during an uncertain time, which no other offices in the area currently offer.
Communicate, communicate communicate: This 'new normal' is going to be around for a while, and it is my opinion that the companies that work with that notion rather than against it, will be the ones that stick around and thrive. Let people know what you are doing to keep people safe at your place of business so they will not hesitate to visit or purchase. No need to be doom-and-gloom, just factual. We often communicate our hourly cleaning and HEPA air filters during our office tours, breathe in the fresh air!
A thing called resiliency. I digress a bit, but this strategy concept that is popular in the sustainability and preparedness area is quickly gaining in business strategy popularity and for good reason. The general idea is it encourages one to remain adaptable and prepared in the face of a set-back through scenario planning. Ex: if 'x' were to happen, we would do 'y'. This sort of (simple or complex) planning is essential to responding quickly and effectively rather than reacting with emotion. Read about this interesting concept here in this wonderful sled dog article.
Anyways, as Amanda I came away understanding the challenges yet invigorated with the possibilities in this new age of business, I hope you feel the same. To gain personalized marketing feedback within a small group setting, come to our next complimentary OutDo Work Marketing Meet on Wednesday, October 14. Spaces limited to 5-seats. Sign-Up Here.