As we are in the middle of the second wave of COVID (or maybe a resurgent first wave), it has become clear that life will not return to “normal” any time soon. For small businesses like retail stores, it is especially important to be able to implement strategic pivots. If you keep running your business as you always have, you are likely to run into trouble.
1. Safety First
Of course, your customers (and employees) will be concerned with safety so you need to change up the way you accommodate safety concerns. See 10 Ways to Make Customers Feel Comfortable Returning to Your Business Post-COVID.
2. Take It Up a Notch
When heading out of the house to visit your business carries a risk, you need to make it more compelling for customers to do so by implementing experience pivots. This may entail holding unique events at your location that customers cannot experience at home or making the in-store experience extraordinary in other ways.
For example, when movie theatres encountered competitive pressure from home streaming, some chains pivoted to invest in extra comfortable reclining chairs and premium food and beverage offerings. This made the movie theatre experience better than most people have at home.
You can also do an experience pivot by turning shopping into an immersive sensory experience through displays, scent, textures and food.
3. The Personal Touch
Similarly, when Best Buy was fighting a losing battle with Amazon, they created a program where they offered consumers free in-store advice about the best products to meet their needs and how they should be installed. Rather than a sales-oriented approach, the pivot was to be more consultative. Low pressure and free advice brought foot traffic, which turned into eventual sales. A consultative approach works particularly well with complex or high-ticket items and relies on the advisor being both knowledgeable and low key.
You can extend personal touch pivots to online marketing as well. If you have been collecting data on your customers’ shopping and browsing habits, kudos! Use this data to make suggestions for new products based on their taste and needs. For example, if a customer purchased a tackle box from you in the past, you can send him an email suggesting a cooler or pointing out a fishing rod that is on sale.
Facebook advertising is an easy way to implement this as well, since your pixel will show you which pages prospects visit and FB enables you to retarget them with relevant ads. Here’s an idea to A/B test: an ad for a complementary product vs. a link to a video testimonial about the product they looked at but didn’t buy.
4. Create Communities
Does your store or products have a loyal following? Do a community pivot by creating user/shopper communities through clubs, events, online forums and social media. Feature your customers and provide a place for them to interact with each other, post photos and videos and answer questions. Then you can point new potential customers to your community and let your existing customers become your brand ambassadors, aka salespeople.
Use this user-generated content on your website and social profiles too. See Starbucks’ White Cup Contest for an example of user-generated content. Seeing this not only gives new potential customers social proof that your store and products are good, but it makes them feel like they are a part of something bigger.
For more ideas, see Forbes’ article on being customer-centric. At Pro Creative, we believe marketing is all about being customer-centric. Contact us to find out what that looks like for your business.