Has COVID-19 tossed your old marketing plan to the side? If everything you were doing prior to the pandemic now seems tone deaf or irrelevant, you aren’t alone. Small businesses offering residential home services are struggling to keep their doors open as customers obey stay-at-home orders and hesitate to welcome service technicians into their homes.
These are trying times that leave every business owner equally concerned for the health and well being of their families, employees and financial integrity. I understand the confusion and heightened stress that comes with searching for financial assistance while trying to connect with your customers and bring in revenue. The following marketing tips and safety guidelines will hopefully help you find your way to the other side of the pandemic.
COVID-19 Marketing Tips
Digital marketing is the way to go with the corona virus epidemic weighing down the world. Many businesses are closed and people are working from home in record numbers, but that’s not all bad news. Many people are spending more time online than ever before. You can interact with them on social media, express sympathy and provide valuable resources through your blog, and encourage them to plan for their future needs.
The time spent at home may encourage many people to think more about their HVAC, roofing and electrical needs. They may decide to take care of neglected home projects while life has slowed down. Keeping in touch through online channels may allow you to pick up business now and in the future.
Marketing through a pandemic is challenging because you want to strengthen bonds with customers so that they’ll think about you when this is over, but you also need to survive in the short term. The following marketing tips help you shift your mind to strategies that work in these challenging times.
Don’t Shy Away from Paid Ads
If you’re taking advantage of the low-interest (and hopefully forgivable) small business loans offered by the federal government, you may have some funds to spend on marketing. Sadly, many small businesses don’t have those resources now that they’re struggling to survive. That leads to lower prices for paid ads through Google and various social media platforms.
Why are ads getting cheaper? There simply aren’t as many small businesses competing, which lowers the cost per click. You can spend less on paid ads at a time when people are spending more time online than ever.
Highlight Your Essential Services
Just as some businesses remain open during the current pandemic because they’re deemed essential to society, you may have services that are needed despite the unusual circumstances. For instance, you may receive more emergency calls for residential plumbing services now that so many people are spending more time at home. With children at home and parents distracted by at-home work, you could predict more Hot Wheels rolling down toilets and clogged drains.
You may also have services that are useful to essential workers in select industries. Now is the time to market those services for the working population still on duty. Think about where that target market may spend their time during the pandemic and focus your advertising budget there.
How can you make your services essential to your customer base? The focus of your online advertising campaigns should acknowledge those details.
Pivot Your Service Options
Can you think of new services that are likely in-demand right now? What about creative spins on existing services that would attract buyers in these difficult times? If you have the expertise and resources to offer those services efficiently and safely, now is the time to get the word out.
Just as restaurants had to shift their focus from in-house dining to takeout and even delivery, many residential home services are shifting their services to remain relevant in a professional landscape that has changed dramatically. Instead of thinking about the services you’ve offered in the past, it’s time to start thinking about the services you need to offer now and in the future.
Give Back to Your Community
There are many opportunities to show love for your neighbors while keeping your business name in front of local customers. You could even boost your brand reputation by leading a drive to make and distribute cloth masks or donating other needed supplies to local hospitals or nursing homes. Take the time to check in with your community members, and you’re likely to find unique ways to make the best of a bad situation on the personal and professional level.
Market with Compassion
Now is not the time for aggressive marketing tactics. It is the time to embrace the power of compassionate copywriting. Look over your ad copy, the homepage of your website, and the blog posts that you will send out in the days and weeks to come. Make sure that the tone is appropriate for the current circumstances.
While you don’t need to mention Coronavirus, pandemic and related buzzwords in every promotion, you should address your customers in a comforting tone that is more soothing and understanding than demanding. Highlight services that are needed right now and emphasize the steps you’re taking to ensure safety for your technicians and customers.
Keep Home Visits Safe
Now is the time to update your website, blog, apps and social media channels with information regarding the steps you’re taking to keep all home visits safe. If you allow online scheduling, make sure your pandemic safety guidelines are displayed prominently within the scheduling platform. You may also want to use text messaging, email, or other forms of direct communication to notify existing customers that you’re open for business and have safety measures in place.
Start by following federal, state and local guidelines regarding stay-at-home orders and other safety guidelines. The following links will help you find federal information:
Beyond complying with all local and state business operation restrictions, think of ways to keep your employees and customers safe when interaction is necessary. Some ideas to incorporate at the service level include:
- Provide hand sanitizer in your offices and to technicians working in customer homes.
- Require all employees to wash their hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds before and after interacting with one another and customers.
- Hang posters or signs in the office to remind employees not to touch their faces and to maintain a six-feet distance from one another whenever possible.
- Don’t allow sick employees to work in the office.
- Thoroughly clean and sanitize all surfaces in your office at the end of each day. You should also sanitize telephones, keyboards, and other items that require human touch. Avoid sharing these items if possible.
- Make sure all technicians have their own equipment to use at home visits, avoiding the need to share if possible.
- Train technicians to stand six feet away from customers as often as possible. You can deliver professional, personalized customer care without standing too close.
- Find creative ways to deliver “hands free” service. These strategies may make your customers feel safer scheduling an in-home appointment at this time.
Now that Coronavirus diagnosis and antibody tests are becoming more widely available, some small business owners are paying for testing on behalf of every employee. That requires a financial investment, but it gives you another point of reassurance for your customers and allows your employees to feel safer when reporting to work.
With the landscape of service-based business changing dramatically, your digital marketing strategies are more important than ever. Whether you embrace paid ads or stick with free resources like social media, consistency is critical. Your customers are struggling in their own ways, but many will still need you at some point.