Your Five Point Covid-19 Marketing Check List
As business owners – few of us comprehended a scenario where all of us would be shut down or placed in a situation where the government put us in a position to lose most or all of our income for months. The frustration, anxiety and fear are palpable within our industry and for good reason.
I have found myself searching for good news every day just to try and stay sane. As well, I’ve enrolled in an online class through Yale and made a checklist of business and personal “to-dos” to keep moving in a positive direction. I won’t lie, even with a commitment to positive focus, I have moments of going to the dark place. My husband recently had to lay off 31 employees on behalf of his company – that was a painful day at our household. Brutal. But here’s the thing – most of us are blessed to be in the position of owning our own businesses, which means, we are able to focus on matters of growth and rebound once the financial help has been applied for.
The COVID pause provides an incredible opportunity for us to hone areas of our business that we have been avoiding or usually don’t have time to address. One of those places is marketing – of course because it is overwhelming. Where to start? Here is my focused five-point checklist for marketing right now and getting ready for a well-deserved rebound.
Covid-19 Mission Statement. This is a statement of purpose during this time, in essence, to reassure your customers.
What actions are you taking right now to ensure the safety of staff and customers? Are you available for customers to talk to and discuss their options? Are you committed to being in business after COVID is over? These are things that provide comfort and certainty to customers – something the whole world is needing in the midst of a perpetual state of “I don’t know”.
2. A stated policy for Covid-19 cancellations and moving dates around.
Put it in writing. But be prepared – if your brides, grooms and their families haven’t already contacted you, they will. AND they have combed through their contract and possibly even consulted with a lawyer about your force majeure clause.
I would not email your policy pre-emptively, but do have it at the ready for when that email or call comes. Legal guidance is helpful for you too right now. Remember, whatever your position or policy is, the way you present it matters most. Highlight benefit over the loss. Even if it is the collective benefit of all brides, that makes things more understandable, especially for this target market. They are highly motivated by the collective good and will be in this case as well. Their parents, not as much. This is where the legal counsel will be helpful.
To try and be as accommodating as possible is a wonderful thing – but as a business owner, you must protect your own interests, such as protecting revenue for 2020. Moving dates into next season will take away revenue from next season. Plus, next season will cost more as your rates are adjusted. Be creative while holding your ground. Remind brides that no wedding has ALL of the guests attend even in normal times. The shrinkage will be greater this season because of the virus even once we get rolling again. Again, focus on the benefits. Smaller weddings cost less. Weddings held on a Wednesday provide a mini-vacation for family and friends and lord knows we all need one of those!
Consider incentivizing with added value to keep brides committed to this season. Add something, an extra night, cake flowers, late-night snacks, a virtual digital album, etc. This is the equivalent of a spoon full of sugar, which helps the medicine go down. It works.
3. Update and refine your Google Business page listing.
If you happened to catch my talk at the Wedding Standard Symposium last year – you know how much I believe in the organic powers of Google.
If you haven’t claimed your Google business listing – start there, pronto. This is often the first thing that potential clients see about your business. If the pictures look dated or off-trend, they may not even bother going to your website. Seriously! It’s free, it’s easy and it’s like turning on a light switch in terms of the illuminating power (SEO) that it gives your business website.
Make sure you list business hours, even if you work from home. Not posting hours show up as you are closed all the time.
Make sure your website and phone number are correct. You can post oodles of photos here – do it and fill in the descriptions. Again, think SEO.
4. Update and maintain your website.
Seriously, make it easier for your market to find what they’re looking for. Does your site reflect your work well? Does it reflect your personality? Does it tell a story of WHY you do what you do? People are looking to connect to something they see. Give them that opportunity and make it easy.
Your customers are looking for what they see on the wedding style sites, magazines and Instagram. All of them are looking to find what they see out there, all the things telling them what is current right now. They want to know that you get it, are hip to what’s going on right now.
Want customers to contact you? Make it easy. How many pages do they have to search through to find your contact form or information? Put it on the front page at the top. They are often coming back to your site to engage -ask you questions as they make a decision to hire you, make it easy like butter. If you only have a contact form and don’t list your direct email address – change that! That is one of the things that drives people absolutely CRAZY. As well, asking for someone’s phone number is a killer. They only want to hear from you via phone, if they contacted you by phone.
5. Look for ways to adapt.
Virtual tours, zoom or facetime appointments and consultation, online contracts are the obvious ones. Text message reminders and updates. But what about adding value to entice people to keep appointments or early booking incentives. Everyone appreciates a little something – even a small gift. Perceived value is a big motivator – especially if your competition isn’t doing it.
Ask questions about what would be helpful to your customers. You’ll be shocked at what great feedback you receive from people when you ask. They literally will tell you what they’re looking for. This often gets lost as we are constantly selling ourselves. Telling and telling. Start asking, ask in different ways and make a note of what you’re told. You make discover a trend which will provide the perfect adaptation giving your business an edge. This might be uncomfortable at first, but it’s a muscle you can strengthen and will become one of the easiest marketing tools you’ll ever know. How can we make this work well for you? What are your priorities for your wedding? Why are you getting married in SLO? All of these questions require answers beyond yes and no. They will also provide incredible information to you in working with your client.
while this article is targeted to wedding local industry vendors - the principles apply to any small business, online or brick & mortar.