Marketing in a pandemic - it's time to pivot not procrastinate
I began my marketing business in 2003 - who knew when I set it up that it would continue despite a recession and a pandemic - blimey!
In 2016 I wrote a blog post sharing 6 key pieces of advice for business success. You can read this in full here but essentially these were:
- Spread the word having established a clear vision of how you can benefit your potential clients.
- Set out your prices and be confident about charging for a good job well done
- Find a way of getting regular income instead of constant churn
- Always look to see if you can improve the way in which you can conduct your business in terms of time and finance
- Embrace the new and broaden your business where you can.
- Make time to keep up your continual professional development,
Given the present circumstances of trying to do business whilst being in lockdown because of the Corinovirus pandemic I'd like to add a 7th piece of advice and that is..
Take a deep breath and be ready to pivot your business.
This is when you face an entirely different direction in terms of your target market; or completely change the emphasis as to what you would normally supply.
A lot of wholesalers have adopted this approach in order to survive. Instead of supplying the middle men they are selling direct to the end user. i.e. you and I.
Let me give you some example of individuals and companies who are pivoting in the hope that this will inspire you to move forward in a whole new way.
This Hampshire based fruit and veg company, unable to deliver supplies to local hotels and restaurants, rented a small roadside unit unit and launched a click and collect service for the local population - additionally selling milk, cheese and eggs.
They worked hard to support this change of business model, honing their website, introducing customer enticements like loyalty points and discounts and making sure their customer communication was first class.
This included sending an e-mail apologising for their struggle to maintain stock levels. They were charmingly transparent about the fact that it had not been plain sailing.
"Its been sleepless nights and extra shifts for us...and trying for you! We did all these things and much more to find out what was wrong. The problems just kept getting worse by the day!
- We put in a new computerised stock control system..
- We changed stocktaking from every week to every day of the week..
- We checked all our purchasing twice and once more, for luck
- We re counted everything twice as we made orders"
It turns out that they were most helpfully adding forgotten extras as people arrived to collect their orders and as the orders increased the problem became bigger and bigger. Lesson learned :-)
Looking at my own weekly order numbers I think they are now racking up a pretty decent amount of orders a week which means their income is not so shabby AND negates the need for deliveries. I'm delighted at the success of this local business and, of course, continue to support them.
Could you pivot your business to sell to a different target market?
One of my favourite stories has been about triumph over adversity. I first heard about this business when it suddenly appeared on my Facebook Newstream as it was shared and shared and shared. I think this was mostly driven by the heartfelt post which went...
"My name is Camilla and my fiancé is Matthew and we live in Chichester West Sussex. This is a family run, well currently just the two of us, business that was set up due to my partner losing his job in horticulture sales due to the current pandemic.
We were desperately trying to think of a way we could keep the roof over our head, provide for our 3 young boys as well as support the local horticulture industry and community. Sounds easy right!?
So...after a social media post to ask you all if you would like some plants delivered, 'Hope Plants' was created! The support we have received so far has been overwhelming!"
Thanks to a truly personal plea with which people could emphasise and, thanks to the power of social media, they are now selling bedding and perennial plants and compost.They are also supporting people to grow their own vegetables and create their own hanging baskets which they are delivering 7 days a week all round their local area.
Go Hope Plants - I'm so pleased for you!
Could you pivot your business to provide your goods or services in a different way?
This is a Wine Estate based in Berkshire specialising in three things that were immediately halted by the pandemic: supplying weddings, giving wine tours and selling direct through their Cellar Store and their Wine Bar.
Currently run entirely by owners Nico and Natalia, they have pretty swiftly organised a drive through click and collect as well as delivering both wine and deli items in the local area. But the initiative which caught my eye was the Wine Tasting at Home Pack - a genius - quick off the mark idea which appeared on March 28th and was a perfect way for their customers to to break the monotony of lockdown.
Although it was a Facebook ad which initially caught my eye, their social media is personal, varied, lighthearted and daily - no wonder they have over 1500 likes....
Could you pivot your business to provide something which taps into the mood of the moment?
Another innovative business which caught my eye was Blueline Taxis which launched their "North-east Deliveroo"website in April. This marries up their ability as a large transport company (carrying out 85,000 journeys a week) with the supply of products from large local suppliers providing everything from desserts to drink and from pies to pet food.
They have dubbed themselves the "North-east Deliveroo" service, provided an app and see this as a whole new opportunity into which they have devoted both time and money to get it right. Of course, it demonstrates the very best in affiliate marketing.
Could you pivot your business to work together with someone local to provide a whole new offering?
I hope this has been helpful, I'd love to hear about other success stories you have come across. As a mentor to several start ups it helps me demonstrate that it is often darkest before the dawn...