Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve been helping our neighbors to get through one of the most difficult times in the history of our country. The coronavirus pandemic has changed daily life for tens of millions of people around the globe. For businesses, it’s meant a near-constant state of adjustment, creativity, and pressure to respond to change.
From laying off staff to dramatically changing how they work and what services they provide to customers, small business owners have had enough on their plate. That’s why we offered to lend a hand. Since we offered to help local businesses with their marketing, we’ve met eight different companies with vastly different stories and surprisingly diverse challenges in the weeks and months ahead.
When we first reached out, we didn’t have a set package to offer. We wanted to hear what these business owners needed. Like all marketing projects, one size doesn’t fit all. There was no point in handing something to these folks that they didn’t need. Instead, listening, learning, and trying to think six, twelve, and eighteen months down the line were the important things we could offer to people focused on the next five minutes and if the doors would be allowed to open tomorrow.
Some of those businesses just needed a phone call. One was a past client who checked it and asked how to access some old content; I had it stored and sent it over. It was that easy.
Others need to find a digital footprint and fast. Wes and I quickly got two Traverse City coffee shops and long-time pals offering gift cards online. For Brew, we connected their current gift card software to their site, eventually crafting a paid Facebook campaign to drive traffic and move cards at a rate of $28 for every $1 spent. Brew already had a strong online ordering system in place, and their gift card set-up will be a great source of cash flow long after they’re back in action.
For our friends at Rose and Fern, Wes quickly had Becky and the gang on the ‘net and offering customers a chance to support R&F as they transitioned to curbside. Like Brew, Rose and Fern was making decisions on how to adapt from a place people love to meet and mingle to essentially grab-and-go; that took a little time, but gift cards were an important way for loyal customers to support the coffee shop, even if they couldn’t swing by.
Our pals at Bløm in Ann Arbor were already actively working to expand distribution of their locally-made mead through a network of stores through southeast Michigan. Like our coffee shops, though, their taproom was still the anchor of the business and plays a vital role in the brand and ambiance of their company. In just a few conversations with Lauren, it was very obvious that we needed to continue to bring people by. Lauren re-worked a safe and responsible curbside pick-up system, and our talented graphic designer, Catherine, created a whole portfolio of graphics to help spread the word on a number of promotions geared for both online sales of 4 packs and gift card, plus announce the return of curbside.
Maybe the biggest thing we’ve learned over the past three weeks is that this isn’t an economic or health situation that’s going away anytime soon. This pandemic has changed the thing businesses, marketers, doctors, and governments have struggled to influence: habits. The person who stopped in for coffee every morning for the past ten years? You need to give them a reason to do so again, whenever this is open. How will businesses teach and entice customers to call them or stop by instead of heading straight to Amazon? How long will the habits formed in lockdown continue? The longer the lockdown, the more entrenched the habit.
What a business adapts to do now could be their identity indefinitely. Let us help you make the pivot.