Just a few short weeks ago, we were feeling vulnerable. We were concerned for our health, our families, and businesses. We needed leadership and good examples to set the tone for the way forward. Sadly, some well-known companies underestimated public emotion: demonstrating a lack of empathy towards their staff and customers, and causing potentially irreversible damage to their brands.
In contrast, we also saw fantastic examples of brands reacting with positive, decisive action to support people through the crisis.
It isn’t just the bigger, well-known businesses that are finding ways to navigate a new path during these extraordinary times. Smaller businesses, finding themselves in unchartered waters and an uncertain future, can also continue to build their brand identities and come out stronger than ever, once doors reopen.
Community on Top
As soon as UK lockdown measures were announced on March 23rd, golf shops were forced to shut their doors. Despite the initial shock and worry, Golf retailers, Professionals, Assistants and Directors of Golf took to their virtual homes on social media in support of the lockdown and with metaphorical cries of “We Can Do It”. Since then, in spite of their own financial fears and concerns around club and shop closures, the golfing community has led the way with a steadfast resolution to stay indoors to help prevent the spread of the Coronavirus disease.
Stay Front of Mind
Understandably, you might be concerned with marketing your business during the Coronavirus crisis but doing nothing isn’t the answer.
“Smaller businesses [sic] can continue to build their brands and come out stronger than ever, once doors reopen”.
Fundamentally, marketing is about meeting customer needs and, now more than ever, it’s important to stay at the forefront of your customers’ minds. When the lockdown measures are loosened, you’ll want your business to be the first shop your customers think of.
Social Media on the Rise
Since the start of the Coronavirus outbreak, media consumption in the UK has changed. People are reading more newspapers online, watching more live TV, and, perhaps unsurprisingly, lockdown has driven up social media consumption by 40%, in the UK alone.
“If you want to build your brand while the shop is shut, rest assured there’s a captive audience sitting at home waiting to hear from you”.
Stuck indoors, people are spending more time online: keeping up with the news, staying in contact with friends and family, making online purchases, and creating and absorbing content from a rich variety of sources in their social media feeds.
If you want to stay in front of your customers while the shop is shut, rest assured there’s a captive audience sitting at home waiting to hear from you.
*Your Marketing Plan*
Ramp up your social
While the shop is shut, there’s an opportunity to revisit your social media presence and look at whether it’s really working for you. Review the platforms where you spend time promoting your business and revamp your content strategy.
1/ HAVE A CLEAR AIM
Why are you on social media? What do you hope to achieve for your business? The amazing potential for you to build your brand on social media means it’s important to have an aim.
2/ PLATFORM FOCUS
Who are you trying to target and which social media platforms do they use? It is far better to focus on one or 2 platforms and do them well, rather than spread yourself too thin across 3 or 4. Where are the people you want to reach spending their time?
Facebook: If you're a golf retailer, experience tells us that most of your shop customers and members will be on Facebook, and a strong presence on this platform is essential for most pro shops.
Twitter: If you like to keep up with news from the golf industry and network with other golf professionals, then Twitter is your platform. Just be aware that it probably won’t be a great way to reach shop customers.
At XPOS, we find many of our retail customers are active on Twitter – there’s a great community of golf pro’s on the platform. As XPOS’s marketing manager, this is where I spend a lot of my time, but it doesn’t mean it’s right for you.
Instagram: If you’re a fan of live video lessons this is a great platform. However, it’s not usually the best place for generating business or new leads.
LinkedIn: I’d recommend all business owners should have a presence on LinkedIn and many of your members and customers will be on the platform. Just make sure you keep content business-related. LinkedIn is a great platform to establish yourself as a thought leader and as someone that contributes in a valuable way to your industry.
If you’d like a more in-depth look at the platforms you’ll find a good summary of recommendations from the Digital Marketing Institute here.
Take this time to make sure your social media profiles are complete and up to date with recent photos, and background images that represent your business. Your biography also needs to be complete and written with your audience in mind. Followers should be able to see clearly see what you do, and how you can help them.
Change your hours on your Google My Business page for anyone searching for your business online. If you don’t have a Google My Business page, create one!!
4/ SOCIAL PROOF
With most people currently sitting at home with more time on their hands, it’s a perfect opportunity to promote your brand with some up to date testimonials from members and customers. This validation from people who use your services is perfect for influencing new potential customers and is key to growing your brand.
Ask customers to provide 2-3 sentences you could use on the website and social media profiles. If you know them well, they may be happy to write up a review for the shop on Facebook and/or Google My Business. These could significantly boost your ranking in Search results, too!
Content in a Crisis
To get your marketing messages right during the Coronavirus outbreak, put yourself in your customers’ boat. What do they need from you now? What are their concerns and worries? What are they missing? What can you do that will help, educate, or even entertain them?
Says XPOS Managing Director, Claire Fraser, “When lockdown was announced and golf shops forced to shut, we knew our users would be really worried about how to maintain their businesses. Retail education sits at the heart of what we do - we’re producing timely content all year round. So, when we went into lockdown, we immediately set about creating a series of articles and videos to support our customers. We hope all this will help them to hit the ground running when lockdown is lifted and I believe most of them would have expected us to do this. We’ve had a tremendously positive response”.
Despite a shut shop, you will still have a lot to share and writing down a plan will help you.
Coronavirus crisis or not, your content should always be VARIED, CONSISTENT and FREQUENT and you’ll have far more success if you dedicate a little bit of time to managing your social media every day, rather than once a week.
Key content tips for retailers:
- Think about what your customers and members might want or need from you
- Stay relevant to your business and core values
- Let customers know how you’ve adapted to the crisis and what you can do for them
- Invite people to participate in discussions. Ask for input or feedback. Do a poll
- Check in with members and customers. How are they doing? Is there anything you can help them with?
- Be positive, inspire and add value
- Include hashtags in your posts (2-3 per post for Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn is about right). Combine a well-known hashtag along with some smaller ones to help your posts go further and enable people to find you. Here’s an up to date guide on hashtags from Hootsuite.
- Mix up your media with a mix of written and video posts to keep people interested
- Best of all, make sure your personality comes across. Thank customers who are supporting your business; start a competition from your garden; tell people what you’re up to.
- Finally, spend some time each day to scroll through your newsfeeds and comment, like and share other people’s posts. Success on social media isn’t a one-way street.
Pay a Visit to your Website
Even if you have a great business, a website with a dated design and poor user experience is a sure-fire way to damage your brand. Take some time out to review your website. Try to go in ‘cold’ and pretend you’re visiting the site for the first time.
Imagine being your typical shop customer. Does it still reflect your business proposition? Will your website appeal to your customer base?
The shop is shut but you’re still open. Do your customers know what you’re doing during the outbreak? Add a message to the homepage to communicate news with your customers. Tell them where to go to order stock and provide links to your Shopify or eBay accounts. Use the homepage to let them know where to find you on social media.
If you don’t currently sell your products online, perhaps now is the time to dip your toes in the water and to start selling some of your current stock. Get in touch with us via the CHAT button on our website and we’ll connect your new Shopify account to your XPOS system -you'll be up and running in minutes. Shopify are currently offering a 90-day FREE trial and the XPOS interface is also FREE during the Coronavirus outbreak.
Show up in Search Results
When Google crawlers search the internet, one of the things they look for is new content. If your site isn’t regularly updated, it won’t be picked up and promoted by Google in the Search results. If you have an informational site, a News & Updates tab along the top navigation is essential. By keeping this area up to date, your site will stay fresh and interesting and you’ll have the chance to insert key words into your updates, ensuring Google picks up your stories and promotes your business in search results. Check out XPOS’s News area here.
“It doesn’t take long for Google to sit up and notice you”.
Take this time to speak to your web developer and add this page to your site. Or, write some new content to update your existing pages. You won’t see results immediately but it doesn’t take too long for Google to sit up and notice you.
Marketing shouldn’t just be saved for a crisis, or put to one side for a quiet day. Marketing works best when it’s consistent. Do it right, and you’ll soon see the effect it has on your sales and customer loyalty. Stay true to your core business values, take a deep breath and dive in.
Jules Appleby is Marketing Manager at XPOS, the sales and stock management solution designed for golf retail. We’re working closely with our customers throughout the Coronavirus crisis with a package of content to help guide and advise you, and help you hit the ground running once the shop reopens. firstname.lastname@example.org for further advice regarding marketing your business.