This week Dan and the Bees look at creative business and marketing tactics that can make your business stand out in uncertain times. We're quickly getting closer to the holidays, and now is the time to get prepared for the rush.
Also, check out our other recent blogs for even more insights for this coming holiday season:
Be sure to ask the Bees any questions you might have about what they do to summon their creative juices and work around roadblocks.
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Creative pivots can be very difficult, especially for small businesses. The pandemic has caused a massive shift in the marketplace, and we've all been left scrambling, trying to find our footing on this new ground.
Take a look at the business types most affected by the pandemic in the chart below.
To remain open, these businesses have had to adjust their strategies to the new landscape. It hasn't been easy, and the toll it's taken has been felt in many industries.
Since March, the number of closures is quite alarming, as you can see below, but it hasn't been all doom and gloom. There have also been some really amazing success stories!
Ok, that chart is just depressing, and now I'm thinking of all the wonderful gems and small businesses we've lost in our community. So...let's get into some wins, shall we?
Here's a great example of a smart pivot and creative marketing tactics that recognized and leveraged his skills and what he could offer to the community.
A fitness coach launched PE with Joe for families and kids to keep up with physical activity during the lockdown. By launching his free videos, he went from 3000-4000 subscribers per week to 200k-400k.
These are the types of stories that bring us together and help motivate us by giving us hope by showing us that it is possible to move forward and find success, even in uncertain times.
The rise of ghost kitchens has also been a great win for restaurants and the industry. Rather than having expensive retail spaces, many restaurants are shifting to Ghost Kitchens, which exist solely through food delivery services.
Check out this article by The Globe and Mail that talks about the rise of ghost kitchens in Canada.
And here are some more great examples of successful pivots and creative marketing tactics you can check out!
Three Babes Bakeshop - online classes & meal kits.
PunchPass - added Zoom integration into their workout studio & yoga management platform.
We've also seen quite a few businesses shift to manufacturing PPE equipment, and one impressive example of that is The Canadian Shield.
Founded by the parent company, InkSmith, an educational technology manufacturer, The Canadian Shield was launched in response to global shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Using existing resources and capabilities, the company sought to combat the shortage by equipping frontline workers across Ontario with medical face shields.
Through community engagement and an unrelenting work ethic, InkSmith and The Canadian Shield donated 20,000 3D-printed face shields to hospitals and healthcare facilities.
Simultaneously, the company prototyped an innovative, Canadian-made solution to the PPE shortage: a fully reusable alternative dubbed “The Canadian Shield."
Within months, the company successfully scaled from less than 10 employees to over 300, acquired new manufacturing equipment, relocated into a 50,000 square foot facility, and increased production capacity to 200,000 face shields per day.
Shortly after, The Canadian Shield expanded its product line to include kid’s face shields, disposable face masks, and reusable cloth masks, further strengthening Canada’s capacity to respond to future health pandemics.
Have a Strategy
I probably sound like a broken record to those of you that have been following these blogs, but for the rest of you, it's the most crucial step in the process of developing creative marketing tactics -the strategy.
You need to understand your business, core values, and audience, and you need to take those elements and build a strategy based on your researched data.
This is not like skipping leg day - you need to be doing this, or it's incredibly unlikely that you'll be successful. Don't build a marketing strategy on hope.
Sit back and take a look at previous strategies and what worked and what didn't. Look at these times as an opportunity for innovation and growth. The market is not static, and your strategy should not be either.
Your ability to adapt will determine whether or not you're successful.
Take this article from The Record, for example: How Toronto craft breweries weathered the pandemic storm with no bars, taprooms or food service
These brewhouses faced certain doom in the wake of COVID-19, like most of the hospitality industry. But, instead of just stopping operations and waiting out the storm, they were quick on their feet and ready to pivot with a new approach.
They shut down a good part of their facilities and scaled-down, focusing on what they could do. Brew beer. Stores, bars, and restaurants were shut down, so they turned to an open and thriving avenue. The good old internets.
By offering their product online, through delivery or curbside pick up, they could maintain cash flow and keep their doors open.
Not rocket science, but it didn't need to be - it worked. It's a great example that drives home the realization that even the smallest changes can be massive.
You don't need a frickin revolution or a miracle to develop a strategy and creative marketing tactics. You just need a slight shift in direction.
Check out this blog we wrote on the differences between strategy and tactics if you'd like to dig deeper into the topic.
Focus on Social Media
It should be abundantly clear at this point that social media is where it's at. It's pretty much the internet now.
If you need help getting your brick-and-mortar business set up online, you should most definitely check out this amazing service that will connect you with a team of industry pros to help you: Digital Main Street - Grant Program
Think about where most of your media consumption happens. Sure, we all complain about Facebook, but we're all still using it every day.
Instagram has blown up, and stories can have an amazing reach with a ton of fun and creative options.
Google My Business is free and invaluable. If you're not set up, follow this guide right now: How to Set Up Google My Business
Tiktok is a beast, and even though it's getting banned in the US, there's still plenty of regions where it will be available - with over 800 million active users in 154 countries, it won't just disappear. It also had the highest engagement rate of all social media channels last year.
Social media has a global reach, but it can also help reach local audiences, especially when using targeted ads on Facebook and Google.
There are increasing opportunities for small businesses and retail online. In a time when people are actively looking to support local, it's that much more critical for you to have a presence on social media.
Just keep in mind that social media is not a billboard for ads - it's a communication channel, so communicate.
If you want more guidance into the daunting and noisy world of social media, check out some of our recent blogs that go into more detail on how to get the ball rolling.
Create an Engaged Community
One of the best ways for a business to stand out is to engage with their customers. Talk to your people. Think of how your own experiences are online when you communicate with the brands you like and follow.
Try not to go down the self-congratulatory road of "how your business is dealing with COVID-19." Ask your customers what you can do to help. Offer help, whether it's care packages or helping out other local companies in any way you can. Start conversations.
Put yourself in the shoes of your customers. What do they want? What do they need? How can your business help them right now?
The demand for small businesses has skyrocketed as people are looking to help support their community and connect. Even offering a simple forum for people to talk about like-minded interests can make a difference. People follow your brand for a reason.
Remember that we're all sharing the same experience right now; this is an amazing opportunity for us to connect on common ground in a way that's never really been possible before, and your creative marketing tactics should reflect that.
Take a look at the chart below to see how the pandemic has shifted our habits and the marketplace. There are some real eye-opening statistics.
Be as transparent as possible. Be human. Remember that you're talking to humans, not leads or demographics - real people, just like you and your mother.
Trust is vital for your brand image. It can be the deciding factor for whether or not people purchase from you, return for more purchases, or advocate your brand to their community.
According to a 2019 survey, 81% of people said, trusting a brand to “do what is right” plays a key role in a purchase decision. That's almost everyone.
More than ever, people want to know "why" you're in business. "What" you are offering and "how" you're doing it is not enough anymore.
People want to know where their money is going, and they want to be sure they're not supporting businesses that are harming the world and their community.
If you are not authentic with your customers, they will know and spread the word. Look at influencer popularity, and you'll start to understand the incredible power of word-of-mouth and why trust is so important.
Share Success Stories
Offer some hope and positivity in these challenging times. The news is a bit negative most days, and people are almost desperate for any good news at all. It can be hard to remember that it's not all doom and gloom.
Showing your customers positive outcomes has the power to transform your brand from something intangible into something with real value that has a real effect on people's lives.
Why do you think testimonials and case studies work so successfully on websites? People love storytelling, and a happy ending leaves us with that feel-good comfort that we all crave.
Some other things you could do include:
- Communicate Regularly
- Offer High-Value Content for Free
- Humanize and Show Empathy
- Help and Give Back to Your Community
- Give Hope & Inspiration
- Ask How You Can Help
- Be Transparent
- Whatever You Do, Act!
Regardless of which course of action you take right now, it’s important to take it.
Also, here's a nifty infographic made by our creative team here at Honeypot, that outlines 8 creative ways your small business can pivot.
And that's a wrap, folks. Thanks for reading, and we hope you find some value to help with your creative marketing tactics. We'll leave you with some more resources for those hungry for more of that juicy knowledge.