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As the recent COVID-19 outbreak has shown, the simple fact is that no matter what you do, you operate at the mercy of forces outside of your control as a business. Changes in how you can operate, be it restrictions on public access or loss of your place of business due a natural event or accident. Even suppliers might go out of business or drop product lines you rely on. You might have a brand-new competitor startup and offer a really good deal. You might suffer some personal events that take you away from your business. While all this is happening, the last thing you want to think about is marketing. The reality is that you really cannot afford to not think about it. So, we are going to talk about a few simple things you can do to be prepared for the unexpected and minimise the amount of time you have to spend doing it when you would rather be thinking about other more important matters.
We have talked about this before, but it is worth repeating. You should always have one or two general purpose marketing items or deals you can use at a moment’s notice. General range deals or percentage off is always the best standby as it’s not tied into any one service or product which many are not available at the time you have to use the promotion. A general marketing item is always great to have as well, the reminder of a service or range you offer that is in lesser demand because people don’t know you have it.
It makes sense to have standardised templates for all your marketing material. Not only does it speed up the process of creating them, it also ensures that each one is consistent, and reduces the risks of mistakes happening in a rushed situation. All design is computer based and with online design systems, like the one we provide with the Copy Express printing portal, it’s easy to have a fill in the blanks style template. It does require you to spend a little time and money setting it up, but it saves you both of those in the long term.
Now the natural response for many businesses when they have done some unplanned marketing is to throw something on a social media post, website update, or email message. While that is good, given the huge volume of e-marketing that lands in people’s email boxes these days, unless it’s a very attractive deal, you’ll end up being deleted with all the rest of the ‘spam’. A more effective idea is to make the electronic version be a teaser, drawing people to your website where you can go into more detail, or to let them know that the deal will be appearing in the post box. Or you can do the other way and send out a physical mail item and direct them to a special that can only be accessed thanks to a coupon code on flyer.
If you need a quick method to get a bit of marketing out, social media is a great tool. Now unless you have a deal or post that has a viral quality, what you are putting out there will only hit your existing followers so tailor it to them first. Using Facebook as an example, if you operate under a business account you can set up promotions with coupons that have either a limited number available or everyone can get. You can also pay for your promotion to be put on everyone’s feed covering a given area. Now if you have your marketing prepared beforehand, then the process of getting it out electronically will take only a few minutes.
If you can’t get to your office, or the computer that holds all your marketing goes belly up, then you have a problem. Currently, it’s no problem to have backups of important files in ‘the cloud’ via online storage systems like dropbox or google drive. This means that you can still access it and put it to use as long you can borrow a computer or have a smartphone and an internet connection. For physical marketing material like flyers it’s not that much extra cost to have a couple of thousand units printed and have them packed in a couple of boxes in a closet at home ready to grab and use when needed.
A lot of small businesses will have that one person who handles the marketing or promotional side of the business. It might not be even the person who decides what offers that go out, but the one who knows how to do the process of contacting printers, has access to the social media accounts, knows where to find the logos and photos used to make the actual ads. If that person is unavailable to do that work, there goes your ability to do your marketing. Ideally you have more than one person in place who can do all of that, for a small business can’t afford to have any part of their operations be limited to one person. If you can’t do that, at least have a set of instructions of how to do each part of the process written down so anyone can follow it.
While ideally you want the customer’s money to go to you alone, it’s better to share it with someone else than to get none. Talk with compatible businesses to arrange for cross promotional deals so even if you’re not able to promote yourself someone else can. An example of such cross promotion is a hair salon and beauty spa that have linked promotions. These businesses don’t directly compete but customers who spend on one of those services would very likely use the other too. So linking them together makes a lot of sense.
We talk about this in more detail in other articles, but here is the short version. You put your goods or services on these sites which handle the ‘promotion’ and transaction processing and your business pays them a fee on each sale. You do end up with less margin and you are competing with other businesses in a more ‘generic’ way where it is not your business being promoted, just your product. Still setting up a ‘shop’ with these types of services is quick, it requires minimal effort on your part to maintain it, which in those critical times makes a lot of sense.
Why not make use of us. We keep electronic copies of all your marketing material on our systems for a period of time so it’s easy enough for us to take care of it for you; no matter if it’s getting physical items printed and distributed or coming up with some posts for you to upload onto your feeds. Just tell us what you need to have done and we will take care of it for you. Having the templates already setup, which we can also create for you, will help speed up the process and reduce the costs to you.
What else can you do? A lot in fact, more than what we can cover in a short item like this. Each business needs its own unique combination of the ideas we’ve listed here plus additional ones that only they need to use. If you need advice and guidance. Why not book a meeting with Copy Express today where we can discuss ideas and come up with solutions that fit your needs exactly.