Local Marketing during a National Lockdown. Guaranteed jargon-free!

Language evolves so quickly, doesn’t it?

Look how, in the blink of an eye, we’ve started using words like lockdown, furlough and pivot…every day. I would have assumed they were all wrestling terms back in February. I don’t now!

Some of the drastic life-changes we’ve all adopted also seem to have happened overnight, almost without us thinking about them.

But, those of us with some responsibility for helping to get business working again, in whenever the future is, have to clear our heads. We have to make some important decisions - right now. Forget anything outside of your control, focus on what you do have some influence over.

Let’s talk about marketing. Specifically, marketing during a period when people aren’t buying. And, at local-level, it’s the buying phase of the customer journey that seems to attract almost 100% of the budget.

When I say local-level, I’m talking about the local store or venue in a national chain, a franchisee or even a small independent business. Very often the person in charge of marketing has a number of other hats to wear…marketing is rarely the key skill.

So, when we’re advising businesses like this, we like to use the ‘customer journey’ to help describe the types of marketing required in each stage. We use this, jargon-free version of the different stages:

SEE / THINK / DO / CARE

Because, if marketing isn’t your core skill, then words like Awareness / Consideration / Transactional / Nurture can sometimes be difficult to remember.

What’s interesting is, when we walk through what marketing activity is taking place in each stage, we often find very little in anything but the DO stage. Everything is thrown at offer advertising of some sort in the hope of driving sales, today, tomorrow or this month (at the very latest!).

The reason most often given for not doing anything in the other stages is that there’s no time. Well, there is now! It’s the perfect opportunity to get to grips with the SEE, THINK and CARE stages. And, if there are areas of marketing that a local manager feels unsure about, what a great time to learn a little bit more about each opportunity.

What’s our local marketing advice for each stage during lockdown?

 

SEE STAGE

Those people at this stage of their customer journey are not ready to buy yet (this is MOST people by the way, sorry to have to bring that bad news!) Marketing activity in this stage should be all about awareness. Not of the brand or the product…but awareness of the local store, outlet or venue. Brand HQ can spend the big bucks on building desirability…at local level you want people to know you’re in their town and part of their community. We think, as a result of this lockdown, that local business and community will be stronger than ever in the future. Now is the time to make sure your business is top of mind when trade begins to return.  How?

Lots of people are looking for inspiration while they’re stuck at home. There are countless social media posts showing how to do haircuts, or creating fun challenges. Activity like this is up by over 70% on Facebook and Instagram. What can your business do in this space?

We’ve also seen a number of websites popping up, often run by the chamber of commerce or similar, where local businesses can promote their own ‘lockdown activities’.

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This example is one of many https://www.edinburghlockdowneconomy.com Find your own and consider how your business might take part. It’s perfect awareness activity for these times.

 

THINK STAGE

This is the stage when people are beginning to do a bit of research. With talk of an easing of restrictions maybe they’re considering a purchase in the near future. What will they THINK of your business? They’re going to be looking online, as you know. Is your online presence in good shape?

Does your website reflect the current situation in terms of what is and what isn’t available? Is your Google My Business entry up-to-date in terms of trading status and hours? Have you even adopted and populated your Google My Business page? It’s essential. Look at this example of two Google My Business entries on my search for a local kitchen store. One has been verified and adopted, the other hasn’t. 

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What do YOU think of the car park picture Google has dropped in from Street View on the unadopted entry?

Here’s where to start. https://support.google.com/business/answer/6337431?hl=en

What about the reviews of your business on all the places it appears online? Are the comments all answered? A bad review can be turned into a positive if you answer all comments and queries honestly and in good time.

And those social channels I spoke about in the SEE stage…if you don’t have them, now is the time. More people than ever now look at your Facebook business page before your own website. Use this time to learn how to set it up, here’s a great guide https://www.facebook.com/business/pages/set-up

These activities are the ones that cost no money, but do need regular attention. They’re vital right now, they’ll help you build the trust people will be looking for in future. Go to it!

 

DO STAGE

This is the part of the customer journey a lot of local marketing managers are most familiar with. It’s the buying stage and most of the budget is aimed at capturing sales with offer-type advertising. If your business is still operating normally, then carry on…71% of people said they’re not against advertising during the lockdown, 74% said they would not like to see any exploitation of the situation though… maybe tweak the tone of your messaging a little to reflect the mood of the country.

But most businesses will be affected. If you can’t sell in the usual way, maybe start selling in an unusual way?

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Here’s a great example. Growers and buyers can get together on this innovative site and do sensible, safe business, all within government guidelines.

What about your Search spend? Again, if your sector is still operating, demand might be up so search volume may have increased. Cost per click will be cheaper for you, so you might want to add some budget. And think about the search terms you’re using. Your hair, nail or beauty salon may not be operating, but there is a 40% increase in search in that sector. People are looking for help. How can you help? Are you a local DIY store that can’t open? ‘Paint delivery in Royston’ is a search term that didn’t exist a few weeks ago. You may need to change your audience and geographic targeting to take advantage of any opportunities like this.

 

CARE STAGE

Once you’ve made a sale your customer enters the CARE stage. You want them to stay loyal to you. You want them to recommend you. It’s so important…some research says it costs ten times more to acquire a new customer than to keep an existing one.

Whether your business is operating or not, it’s a great idea to ask how they’re doing at the moment. No commercial edge to the message, treat them as if they were a friend. And tell them how you’re doing. You can do this either directly if you have a smaller customer base, or through your social channels. Here’s a great example of a local business using social media to tell people how proud they are of their staff, for example.

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By the way, if you haven’t mastered Twitter for business yet, you should. It’s a great way to take part in local conversations and build lasting relations with customers and prospects. Here’s some sound advice:  https://business.twitter.com/

 

FINALLY

There’s a lot to take on here, but don’t be put off. It can all be done in bite-sized chunks! Set yourself realistic goals and targets…maybe learn about LinkedIn this week…review your targeting next week…

We have a recording of a webinar we ran recently that covers all this and more. It’s available to view here: https://www.weareacuity.com/webinar-local-marketing-during-a-national-lockdown

And we have a great template to help you plan your activity in all stages – SEE, THINK, DO and CARE. Available here: https://www.weareacuity.com/whitepapers/local-marketing-delivering-a-balanced-marketing-plan

 

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