Connecting with your customers
You should still maintain a presence with your customers during the Coronavirus lockdown. Just because you can’t trade this is not a time to sit back and just wait out the lockdown period. The time period of lockdown is uncertain. However, you should still be planning ahead for when it is lifted. We are experiencing zero income on our Airbnb narrowboat business during the Coronavirus outbreak. This is part two of how we are managing to stay productive. You can read the first blog here. In this part I will be writing about how we are communicating with customers and maintaining a presence with our business.
Why are people not buying my products?
The main reasons that people are not spending with you are because since the Coronavirus restrictions their financial priorities have shifted. Or they are having to obey rules set out by the government such as self isolation or social distancing. I have set out some of the reasons below.
- You are not one of the essential businesses that the government has allowed to stay open
- You provide a service that violates the rules of self isolation/social distancing (such as a travel or you provide short term accommodation)
- Potential customers have other priorities to spend money on (such as medicines and food)
- People who are now on low or no income and have to prioritise their spending on bills
Continue your marketing plan
You can continue to maintain a presence with your customers through marketing and public relations (PR). This doesn’t mean forking out lots of money for advertising when you don’t have it. We have zero income from our narrowboat business right now, but that is not stopping us from using our free outlets to promote ourselves, our business, and communicate with our customers . Here are some of the ways in which we are continuing to communicate to potential and past guests:
- Posting regularly on our Instagram and Facebook pages to communicate with potential customers and past customers
- Continuing to comment and post on other relevant social media pages, to support other businesses like our own (we are all in it together)
- Continue to write blogs, and make them relevant to the current climate such as blog posts like this one.
What can I write about?
You can write about lots of things. The important part is that you continue to communicate with your customers during a time that is difficult to reach them. We are continuing to post about the renovation of our second boat, and life living by the river. I am carrying on with crafting and posting my products on our Facebook page, as well as writing these blogs on our website. You need to portray how you are coping with your business, and the things that you are doing to be productive. This helps others identify that we are all in this together.
A cleaning company for example, might write posts about how their clients could manage their own cleaning whilst they can’t reach them due to social distancing. They could give them information about correct products to use, correct techniques, or links to information online.
If you are enthusiastic about your business there should be plenty to write about. This shows your customers that you care, and that you are still in business. When things get back to normal, you want them to choose you again. After the crisis is over, you want them to remember that you didn’t forget them when things were tough.
Alternative ways to generate income
Now that people are socially distancing, other than staying connected through marketing you may be able to generate some income remotely. Here are some ideas:
If you teach a skill of some sort (such as craft) you could connect to your customers by creating a tutorial. If you have a website you could add it there and charge a small amount for access. If you don’t have that facility you could create a downloadable PDF that people pay for. It doesn’t have to be complicated. You could just create a PDF that people pay for via Paypal and you email it to them. Just be careful though, if you are considering teaching professional skills (plumbing, electrician skills, basic life support to name a few) you must be qualified to do this! I am not recommending that you just find something to teach off the cuff. Only teach something you are already proficient or qualified to do. Teach something directly connected to your business.
Providing a service
Can you conduct your business online? An example of this is that many accounting services conduct business this way. Designers and people offering consulting might be able to do this. Think about what you could offer. For example, could you offer expert advice online for a fee? Communicating with past customers or potential customers this way could earn you brownie points for future sales as well as generate some interim income.
Your income may be at an all time low right now, but continuing to communicate with your customers and potential customers is key to maintaining the momentum of your business. To maintain a presence with your audience first you need to get creative and think of ways to continue to engage their interest in your business. Second think about how you might generate some income remotely. At times like this people want to know how to manage, how to stay safe, how to relieve the boredom of not being able to go out, and generally how to cope with the enforced rules. Hopefully some of this blog will spark some ideas.