The world may be “closed” for the majority of retail and food service, but that doesn’t mean you can't find ways to engage with consumers and generate some business.
For the past month, whether in my in-box or on my walks, I’m seeing creative solutions being put into work by some agile and tenacious business operators and owners. Drawing on my own experiences (having survived the 2008 recession) and tactics, combined with what I am seeing, I've compiled a list of five action items you can put into play today.
1: Work IN your business - Be Creative, Be Visible
I routinely counsel CEOs and entrepreneurs to spend more time working ON their business versus their natural inclination which is to work IN the business. I urge them to spend more time developing their long term business plan vs. managing the day to day execution.
But, desperate times call for desperate measures, and now the is time to spend the majority of your time IN your business, adjusting your near term strategy and your execution plan. You’ve built your business, and now you need to pivot it. And quickly.
If your restaurant or store is open at all, as the owner or operator, you need to be in the front of the house - figuratively or actually. Your loyal consumer wants to see the executive role up his / her sleeves, come out of the boardroom, and lead.
Customers trust a business more when they can attach a face with the business so make sure you’re humanizing your brand and enabling customers to see the Who behind the What.
2: Be Customer Centric - Do You Know What Your Customers are Doing?
Go beyond what your customers are wearing and think about what they are doing 24/7 — drinking, cooking, setting a dinner table, playing games, listening to music, exercising, etc. and be a part of it.
Your customers depend on you for all types of information and products. They were patrons of your brand because there was something about you they trusted and resonated with. Use this relationship to surprise and delight them with unexpected products, services, and ideas.
If you’re a restaurant or bar, share your playlists and recipes via social media.
If you run a home furnishings store, create shoppable tablescapes by theme, color, or print. And then deliver them.
If you have a gift store, share the rules of some heritage card games like hearts, spades or spoons, and then design and sell COVID -19 card sets.
Use the customer as your filter for ideas and decision making and you won’t go wrong!
3: Mashups - Unexpected Collaborations
Now more than ever, we need to help one another both personally and professionally. Successful partnerships can bring together two talents that are stronger together than they are individually. Imagine ways you can enhance the customer experience with your brand while collaborating with another.
MasterClass™ offers courses across multiple categories including in culinary arts, photography, gardening, and beauty. In any of these categories, there is an opportunity for a MasterClass ™ to partner with retailers.
I am taking The Mixology class on MasterClass. I would love it if there was a partnership with a local liquor store where I could click to purchase the items featured in a particular recipe and get them delivered. This would allow me to practice my new skills, saves me an errand (if I am able to leave my house), and drives revenue for another retailer.
An important key to the return of business will be leveraging one another’s strengths and core competencies to deliver a better customer experience.
4: Use Your Storefront for Good
People are out walking more than ever, and if you have a physical store or space, customers are passing your location multiple times a week. Use your windows, doors, and walls to convey a personal message, engage with people, and brighten their day.
Harrods, London joined the worldwide movement of filling empty streets with colorful, uplifting imagery with its rainbow windows in their Flagship store that read "sunnier days ahead" and "thank you to all the extraordinary key workers."
Another opportunity is to participate in things like the Teddy Bears Scavenger Hunt rolling nationwide. Some businesses participated in a virtual or distanced egg hunt on Easter.
How could you celebrate Mother’s Day or Memorial Day in the coming weeks?
Don’t underestimate the power of messaging at a time like this.
5: Social Media
I’m not an expert on this, nor is anyone during this unprecedented time, but I do think some sage advice when it comes to social media is to think about what YOU want to engage in. Be creative, relevant, and honest. Your goal should be to bring customers into your world, behind the curtain.
Think about adding value and not about driving sales or traffic - the revenue will follow if you do the first thing correctly. The last thing a customer wants is an irrelevant email featuring spring clothes and dressy shoes they are never going to wear. DO NOT go back to your old ad schedule.
This is a great post with some solid guidelines and tips for handling social media right now.
How you lead, imagine a new retail landscape, and respond to today’s challenges will shape how your customers perceive your brand and their loyalty to you.
This is an opportunity to flip the market on its head and try something new!
If you want help developing creative solutions for your brand, reach out today.