I bet we are all thinking about this coming year and how this virus will impact our businesses. During these sorts of events, I think it is important to keep calm and focus on driving our businesses forward. My guess is that the businesses that focus on not just tactical but strategic-collaborative marketing efforts will weather this storm, the businesses that don’t evolve will be left behind. I feel we need to start preparing for lower than usual traffic to our businesses.
What we can mention to our customers
- Our shops are disinfected (and tell them how) every night. Show the products use and staff cleaning in posts.
- We ask people who appear to be sick to immediately leave, offering some sort of remote service (bringing goods/services to the car, etc)
- Mention that we (the shop owner) would appreciate their support through this tough time. Make it personal “My FAMILY appreciates your support…” etc
- We publicly suggest that older folks stay home and ask others to shop for them
Here are some things we can suggest customers/clients to do to support us
- Purchase gift cards for use later in the year
- Have one of Vashon’s couple of food/delivery services bring product to their home (we have 2 of them on the island)
- When customers come in, mention you have hand sanitizer (if you have it), encourage them to wash their hands before and after they shop/eat.
- Offer some sort of discount
- Suggest they call in and order take out
Benefits for shopping at local businesses now
- Smaller crowds
- Take advantage of new discounts offered due to the virus
- Shops are never cleaner than they are now (mentioning that the shops are disinfected nightly, which is a good idea)
- First and foremost, they will be supporting our local businesses.
Upside of free time. Things we can do while business is slow
- Update, create or add content to website
- Stay away from creating events, focus on your product or service
- Build an email list (you got this email from me because I built a list… It takes time, but its worth it) and send out updates to your current fanbase.
- Create, Update or add to your social media platforms
- Perform OUTREACH on social media. If you don’t know how to do this, just ask.
- Find collaboration opportunities. For instance, come to my brewery to fill up a growler to go, and pick up a pizza to go on the way home. Cross promote with other Vashon businesses and leverage their audience in marketing.
- Connect with island bloggers and tourism sites (like mine, Explore Vashon) to help encourage off island visitor to visit YOUR location. Again, building that consumer confidence that we are doing our best in disinfecting our establishments and making a SAFE shopping environment is very important.
Support. IMHO, we need to leverage each others strengths to ensure we all weather this storm. I have set up a Facebook group where you can ask any sort of Vashon Island business/marketing question. https://www.facebook.com/groups/1735402070079231/. Also, feel free to reach out to me directly if you wish, I am here to help.
Keep safe, keep strong and collaborate folks.
On Vashon, we have some unique challenges when marketing our product or service. Vashon Island marketing is made MUCH more difficult because of a little body of water called the Puget Sound which separates us from potential customers, thus dividing our customer base into two distinct groups.
The first group we probably already know, it’s Vashonites. Folks who live on the island, play on the island and spend on the island, without these fine people, our businesses would never make it through the winter. These are our “regulars”, our “bread and butter” our base. These folks have habits that we can count on. We see them up and IGA every Tuesday. They’re filling up at Mom’s in the morning. We are creatures of habit and that’s VERY evident with islanders. We do certain things over and over again.
The second group, which is much harder to reach and understand are the folks from town or abroad. These are visitors or tourists to the island. These people are hard to find because we don’t really know when they are coming if they are coming and why they are coming to the island. Fortunately, we have some people working to identify and reach out to this crowd, folks like Explore Vashon, The Lodges on Vason and The Vashon Island Chamber, which assist with island tourism.
Now that we understand those two groups, now let’s look at your business. Let’s ask yourself, “Who is my ideal customer?”. I said IDEAL. I want you to think about the perfect customer you would want for your business. We need to identify who those folks are, in detail. We need to profile them before we can target them with our marketing. So, to end this first post on marketing on Vashon Island, do me a favor, fill out the questions below and profile your ideal customer.
- Financial status
- Marital status
- Lifestyle activity (are they active)
- What do they like to do in their free time?
- Dependent status. Do they have pets? Do they have children?
In the next blog post, I will show you how to USE the data you have collected in this marketing profile exercise.