COVID-19 has altered the way small businesses operate, and with drastic measures being taken by the Federal Government to help protect Canadians from the spread of coronavirus, many small businesses are wondering how they can continue trucking on in the face of uncertainty.
While recent events make it challenging for businesses to operate as usual, it also presents small pet business owners with unique opportunities to grow their business from home and work on improving different aspects of their everyday, normal operations.
We’re going to break down for you exactly what you, as the owner of a small pet business in Canada, can do during the social distancing and COVID-19 series of events to keep your business moving forward.
Take this time to nurture your relationship with your audience
There’s no time like the present to get back on board with your community management strategy and actively engage with your audiences.
And this is critical not only during a time of crisis but for the everyday social media management side of running your pet business. When you engage with your audiences, respond to inquiries, interact through comments, tweets, messages and posts, and pay attention to what your customers (and potential ones!) need from your brand, it shows you’re making a concerted effort to listen to your customers.
You can also use this time to create interactive content for your audiences, like IG Story polls, remote-work videos, customer shoutouts, and more.
No matter that time or state of events, your customers want to be heard, and now is the perfect time to improve your existing community management approach or work with pros like the team here at StreetDog Marketing to develop a tailored, effective strategy for you.
Don’t go silent
When customers and audiences need assurance and assistance from your brand, especially now, there’s never a good time to go silent.
That includes your customer service approach.
Whether customers can call, email, text, chat online, or submit inquiry forms, being accessible to your customers is so important because it’s a large part of your customer experience. And successful brands know that the customer experience is crucial in retaining loyal customers.
But more than that, customer service can help drive sales, even in a time like COVID-19. 73% of customers like and stay loyal to a brand when they have outstanding customer service. Are you one of those brands?
Small pet businesses need to lean on and consistently iterate their customer service strategy because people have questions, need support, and are looking for knowledge and expertise from you. If you leave customers out in the cold in their time of need (whatever that may be), you’re guaranteeing they’ll turn to another brand.
Create customer-focused content
Have you you been thinking about that content marketing strategy you wanted to work on months ago, but haven’t had the time to develop and implement? Now could be the best time to take a breather and focus on creating customer-centric content for, you guessed it, your customers!
Content marketing is a great tool for pet businesses for a number of reasons, but chief among them is the opportunity to create and establish authority and stand out among your competitors. By sharing content that addresses and helps solve your customers’ pain points, you generate brand awareness and showcase that you have the knowledge and value customers are looking for in a pet brand.
We wrote a whole article on content marketing for pet brands, and if you’re thinking of hopping aboard the content marketing train, we’d love to help you.
Reconsider your social strategy
Like content marketing, you may have also been thinking about your social media strategy and whether it’s working to your brand’s advantage.
COVID-19 is not the time to heavily promote your brand in a tone-deaf way, so it’s extremely important that you reconsider your approach to social media and think consciously about the content you’re sharing with your audiences.
Here are a few of our best tips for optimizing your social strategy during a tumultuous time:
Revise your scheduled posts - if you use a scheduling tool to pre-schedule social posts, double-check your posts to ensure that social captions and content you created weeks ago aren’t inappropriate to recent events
Regularly follow up with audiences - don’t forget to check direct messages, comments, and messages on platforms like Facebook to ensure you’re responding to customers in a timely manner
Experiment with posting - if you’ve been curious about implementing a new posting strategy, now is the perfect time to test new days and times
Check your hashtags - just as you can with posting, check your hashtags and experiment with different hashtag groups to test whether the hashtags you’ve been using perform (or underperform!)
Work on your newsletter list
Optimizing a newsletter list is one of the most effective ways you can build a community of fans and customers for your brand, and for small pet businesses, newsletter lists are an essential tool for marketing your products.
But working on those lists can be time consuming, which is why now is a great time to sit down, revise your lists, and consider creating fresh content you can send to customers and audiences that will help get them through a tough, emotional time.
We recommend making your newsletter content audience-focused, which means avoiding heavily promoted brand content or pushing your products on potential customers. Instead, share an insightful article from your blog, share a fun video, give audiences a DIY dog treat recipe they can make at home, or send tips for entertaining pets during social distancing.
The key is to make your newsletter as helpful as possible so your newsletter audiences stay engaged and interested in what you have to say (and share)!
Most importantly, don’t stop marketing
Marketing your brand during a difficult time like COVID-19 doesn’t have to mean being insensitive or ignorant to the situation at hand; in fact, marketing can be used as a positive, inclusive, and community-building set of strategies that bring your customers together and position your brand in a positive light.
We understand that may sound easier said than done, especially when pet businesses are facing the challenge of keeping customers aligned with their brand and making purchases right now. But with the right approach and strategy behind you, your pet business can still thrive. We’re here to help you, and can steer your pet brand in the right direction.