This is a guest post courtesy of Elizabeth Edwards of Elena Grace Photography
The future of doing business may seem out of focus due to the looming pandemic. It’s hard to have a clear vision of success when there’s a ripple effect that’s impacting everyone from businesses to consumers. At times like this, some businesses begin a process of adjusting their strategic plans to protect themselves as the economy moves into financial stress. However, one objective that should stay intact on any company’s strategic plan is marketing. Marketing plans should be refocused, adjusted, and amplified to reflect the current situation. For example, will traditions – like annual family fall photos – be put on hold or will consumers simply
reevaluate their budgets for more affordable options.
If we aren’t communicating the right messages within the right channels, we are doing ourselves and clients a huge disservice. Consumers need to know you’re open, what you’re offering, how your business has changed, and what they can expect from you. Without the proper marketing strategy in place, your clients could either assume you’re not open for business or, worse, you’re not sympathetic to the economic turmoil they could be going through.
However, there are subtle ways to pivot and protect your business and relationships with your clients. It starts with reevaluating your marketing plan and redefining the way you provide service to your clients until we exit these uncertain times.
Like any good business crisis plan, it’s important to acknowledge the current issue, announce your business strategy going forward, offer your clients authentic support, and to continue consistent communication. Let’s map out how you can achieve these simple steps.
Return to the Basics
When you started your business you probably compiled basic market research in your local area, also known as a SWOT analysis. You figured out who your customers were and what behaviors led to their purchase habits also known as your targeted audience. You also probably figured out who your competition was and how they engaged in the marketplace. All of these things helped you find your competitive edge to formulate a master marketing plan. Now is the time to adjust that plan or start fresh.
Here’s what you can do: Start with basic customer research. How are consumers in your area redefining value on current and future purchases? How are your clients responding to the recession right now? Are they more frugal or more willing to invest in luxury-based services like photography? Discover how these changes are reflected locally and nationally. You can utilize business intelligence software or free websites like Google Trends. You can even set up surveys asking online via polls posted in social media groups, via email newsletters, or to your clients directly. Use this information to move to the next step; adaptation.
Adapt to The Slow Down
“All failure is a failure to adapt, all success is successful adaptation.” Max McKeown.
If we now know who our customers are and what their purchase habits are like, we can better tailor our messaging and types of communication. Life looks different across the world with the pandemic still in the loom. Even if your area is opening back up with some restrictions, your clients may still want to practice strict safety protocols. With all rapid changes, it’s confusing for consumers to know what is right and what to do. Always make it easy for them.
Businesses need to let their clients know they are open for business, but not business as usual.
Here’s what you can do: Formulate your specific safety plans for conducting business during the pandemic and any other important business changes like working hours, etc. Share them on all of your mediums and with your clients during proposal calls. Whether it’s using longer lenses or spacing sessions out, a well-defined clear understanding of your safety precautions going forward is reassurance that is comforting to all clients. Making changes to your business policies and procedures allows more flexibility and situational forgiveness that
will benefit the perception of your brand, as well as something your current and potential clients will either rave or rant about. Next, let’s work on your digital marketing strategy.
Refocus Your Marketing Strategy
Now that we have adapted to the environment around us, we can focus our efforts on planning out content that is relevant, consistent, and serves your clients and community. An important part of your online content is making sure it’s relevant and sensitive to the pandemic going on.
Here’s what you can do: Right now, in this climate of uncertainty, change the tone of your messaging. Redo any digital marketing than comes off too “salesy”. Instead of marketing events and activities, highlight what your clients may be valuing most, like family and their quality time together. Spend time engaging with people to find out how you can serve them
differently. Second, a tactic you may want to try is to adjust your services, temporarily at least. You can offer more promotions with your sessions, or services you once charged extra for can be (temporarily) included. Thirdly, share relevant content that uplifts and relates to your clients. Share how you’re adjusting to the pandemic, professionally, and personally. Include personal stories, sweet behind the scenes moments, and everyday moments. Facebook and Instagram Stories are the best platforms to share these valuable tidbits. Clients tend to find comfort with brands that they feel they’ve built emotional connections with, even if it’s digital. Lastly, be consistent. Posting often on each of your dedicated platforms keeps you relevant on a client’s mind. Plan out at least three to four posts a week with relevant engaging content. These are simple ideas, but powerful when planned thoroughly and executed consistently.
The One Where They Had to Pivot
Create engagement for perfect exposure. Now is the season of The Global Pivot, and it’s grand! As businesses all around the world have been affected by this looming pandemic, some have creatively pivoted their business strategy to accommodate more non-traditional ways
of conducting business. So can you!
Here’s what you can do: Start with serving your community by creating engaging ways to provide your services for free or charity, such as The Front Porch Project. You can partner with a relevant charity that supports families with food or services, like a local food bank. This kind of charity can garner you lasting exposure in your community as the preferred photographer. Volunteering your services can unlock the power of your brand, create new awareness. Call your local nonprofit organizations to see if they need any photographs taken for their organization or events. Also, check-in with local businesses to establish new partnerships.
Working with businesses is a great way to trade services during downtime and get your name out there. Use this creative content to share on your social media channels and website. Its engagement spotlights their charity and your business with all the tags, likes, and shares. Lastly,
turn your past clients into raving fans. Ask them to write a review on your mediums and other online sites like Google and Yelp. Create albums of past work (if you don’t already have some), title them with creative headings such as “Best of (category)” series, and tag all the families in
that series. Ask your clients to Like and Share. If you’ve built a good relationship with your clients over the years, this is a great way to generate organic exposure.
There’s light at the end of the lens. Just like you would adjust the settings on your camera, do the same for your marketing strategy to achieve an overall clear image of marketing smarter during this pandemic. The way you choose to communicate and treat your customers will reflect on the future of your business once we finally exit the pandemic.
This article was featured in Summerana Magazine | September 2020 issue