My Point of Heu
As a social and marketing expert with 20 years of experience... this Pandemic has been immensely stressful and a trying time for businesses and our community. My job is to facilitate and assist others with their marketing needs and I've helped to implement some very successful initiatives to help local businesses thrive during this challenging time. Here's a look at the 5 must-do and must-try options to stay afloat amid a crisis.
1. Communication is key
Opening the lines of communication, talking things through, sharing ideas, thoughts, engaging and even venting is the perfect way to convey how things are going, what you are doing, what is working, what isn't. First and foremost you should share your hours, how you are working now and when, what you are offering and craft a statement for your customers that is clear, concise, sympathetic to all and authentic. This lays the groundwork for your plan of action and open communication is the most and foremost important aspect of maintaining your business. I can't stress this enough! If you don't communicate no one will know, including myself how to best help, support and overall awareness. No communication is practically falling into a black hole.
2. Be Proactive
Yes, times are changing and times are hard - but instead of saying things with a negative spin, flip it and be positive - lessening your hours, closing, not being open, not seeing clients? Change it to "we have new and improved hours to serve you" or "we're making it easier and more comfortable for clients to meet with us virtually or by phone" always look at a way to make it positive. If you are a contact-free facility say so and say why and how you are protecting people rather than we don't allow shopping or unannounced guests. Always keep it positive and up-lifting.
There isn't a magic wand to make everything good again... but you have to be flexible, open minded and open to adapting, changing, pivoting. You may have a plan, but daily, plans can change. You may want to stop marketing efforts, but honestly marketing is the #1 most important role right now. Be flexible when it comes to the news, government changes, frustrations, woes and be ready to pivot.
4. Think Outside the box
Doing what you regularly do and not offering anything to incentivise customers likely wont help. You need to be an outside thinker and offer new, innovative and appealing options. Discounts, BOGO, package deals, happy hours, customer appreciation, collaborations, free shipping, free delivery, additional assistance, gift cards, quicker service, more efficient service and online/mobile options can make or break a business. Take what you would normally do but think bigger - like 500Xs bigger and better.
Give to get
Lastly, thinking globally and acting locally will help spread your good karma and show your commitment to the community. If you have excess food donate it. If you don't need something share it. Got spare change or some extra cash spend it. If you want to give back to the community the community will give back to you. It all comes full circle and if your heart is in the right place people will see it. There are so many worthy causes that are giving to our community right now: foodbanks, homelessness, senior citizens, children, needy communities, first responders, etc.
I never could have imagined something like this would happen... Global shutdowns, an economic crisis, global pandemic, etc. But it is comforting to know that as a whole, as a community, as a state, as a nation and as a planet - we are in this together.
Inspirational stories of people going above and beyond, volunteering, giving back, giving all that they have and giving their lives have hit my heart. If there is anything I can say or do - it is to encourage you all to remain positive. It may be challenging as we are all frustrated, struggling, scared and confused, but we are all together on this path with no known ending.
With that I figured I would compile some information that may be useful at this time:
As of April 25, 2020:
RESERVED SPECIALTY SHOPPING HOURS
Times Super Markets: 5am-7am (Kupuna)
Big Save: 5am-7am (Kupuna)
Foodland: (the first hour of business) Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday (some stores open at 5am or 6am, locations vary) Kupuna.
Safeway: Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday 6am-9am - Kupuna, Pregnant Women or those with preexisting Medical Conditions.
Down To Earth: Senior Hour 7am-8am, Kupuna Kokua program also offers arrangements for free community deliveries for kupuna.
Whole Foods: One hour before the store opens, kupuna.
CVS/Longs Drugs: Oahu Tuesday & Thursday 9am-10am, Big Island & Kauai 9am-10am and Maui Monday & Thursday 8am-9am - includes vulnerable guests and caregivers.
Target: Tuesday and Wednesday 8am-9am vulnerable guests
So this morning, I was scrolling through social media, as we all are everyday... some all day LOL.
Today, when I browsed the account I saw their followers had gone up upwards of 3,000 people since I last managed it a year ago, but the likes and engagements were abysmal. They went from having thousands of organic followers (with me and my management with hundreds of likes) to not being able to even break 50 likes and only living in double digits with no engagements.
So what does this mean? Well you paid for more followers, but that does not mean you are proving successful at marketing, communication or sales. If you have thousands of "fake' followers this also makes you look inauthentic and things don't really match up - so anyone who sees your account and sees your likes will know you bought those followers. Essentially it is a part of the time honored tradition of quality over quantity. You want quality people, like quality friends who are going to support you, follow you on your journey and engage with you and share.
This isn't anything new, but it did remind me that too much emphasis is put on the total number of followers and not enough on authentic engagements and actual reach.
My clients can rest assured that their accounts are enriched with quality over quantity - although some have high quantity and we've grown that over the years. I am also lucky and happy to report that all of my main clients are thriving and I have even taken on a few new ones last week.
I've been home now -- "social distancing" or perhaps people distancing for a month and a half. Honestly, 42 of those days have been just fine, sometimes great, at times exhausting and a tiny bit chaotic. But not going to lie there have been a few where I want to be a log on the couch or find myself troubled with cabin fever.
Here are some of my tips for staying bright, cheery and sane during this trying time.
Helpful COVID Crisis Tips
How to make a cloth facemask for just 2 elastic bands and a piece of cloth (bandana)