Though every sector has been adversely affected by the Covid 19 outbreak in some way, it is businesses that rely on close contact who have suffered the most. Being unable to offer massage treatments, haircuts, skin care and more niche activities such as marital arts instruction means that many close contact businesses have had to significantly alter their working practices in order to survive. In this article, Probella discuss some of the marketing strategies that have been effective for close contact business who suffered as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic in 2020.
Take Away and Delivery
For street food traders, small restaurants and mobile food trucks, the option of serving large numbers of people in one space is no longer an option without restrictive social distancing measures. To combat this, many of them have been offering delivery services and take away options, meaning their customers can still buy the product they want, without putting themselves or other people in danger.
Pre-Booking Time Slots
Businesses that cannot offer delivery or home-based options have managed to overcome some of their difficulties by encouraging customers to pre book time slots for when they want to come into the premises. This has been surprisingly effective for hair and make up salons, physiotherapy practices and more essential services like dentists. Though some customers can be unreliable and cancel without notification, the majority of people are willing and able to stick to their allotted time slot, meaning that business can continue without too much disruption.
Maximising Safety and Cleanliness
Consumer confidence matters and though you may not realise it, many people are still concerned about catching the virus or another kind of infection due to poor quality standards of hygiene. By mentioning your fastidious approach to cleanliness and safety in your marketing materials, you are sending a message to any existing or potential customers. Safety matters to you and you are willing to do whatever is required to ensure that your business can operate safely and within the regulations set out by law.
Video content is everywhere at the moment and some may argue there is a little too much of it. Explainer videos can be remarkably effective, though. Especially for businesses who need to explain things like one-way systems, hand washing procedures, temperature checks or mandatory information gathering. Filming some members of staff going through any social distancing procedures while you explain how customers are expected to behave offers a clear, unambiguous way of presenting information. Though most people are happy to read instructions, visual aids can be often helpful.
For some businesses, this is impossible, however, many creative solutions to lockdown and social distancing have seen business owners and professionals moving their operations online. One to one therapy sessions can be conducted via Skype or the multitude of other video chat software that is available and even some fitness and training sessions can be carried out virtually. Pricing structure can be an issue as people are usually less willing to pay for something they don’t need to leave the house to do, but providing you are offering a service that has genuine value, you should still be able to continue trading, even if you can’t see customers in person.
In England, bars, restaurants, and some entertainment venues have been encouraging customers to visit in their own social bubbles. This essentially means that only people from the same household or support group are allowed to sit at the same table or be within two metres of each other. It can be incredibly challenging to organise from a logistical perspective but encouraging people to arrange their nights out or lunchtime meals in this way can be a good way of maximising trade. Rather than trying to seat 50 individuals in a socially distanced way, multiple groups of people can be served, allowing for a more relaxed and less clinical experience.
Though fears of an impending second wave have created some localised problems, most close contact businesses in the UK have begun to open again. Face coverings, gloves, transparent masks, and specially constructed screens to separate customer and client have all been put in place to allow hair salons, nail bars and massage parlours to operate safely. Without PPE, the vast majority of these businesses will be unable to operate, so to alleviate any fears, mention what you are using to keep your staff and you customers safe when you are creating marketing content.
Socially Distanced Alternatives
Exercise classes, dance and sporting activities have been adversely affected by the Covid crisis, but it is still possible to operate if you ensure that social distancing is taking place. This can mean changing premises or adjusting your existing base, but it as many forward-thinking business owners have demonstrated, socially distanced alternatives to close contact activities are possible. Martial arts studios have been focusing on kata and aerobic work, exercise based classes have been taking place with fewer participants but more sessions throughout the day and cosmetic services such as skincare have ensured there is a sufficient distance between customers at all times.
Focus on what you can offer, rather than what you cannot
The restrictions in place as a result of Covid 19 are undoubtably problematic but when marketing your business, you must try to focus on the treatments, services or products that you can offer, rather than spending too much time explaining what you can no longer do. Offering a discounted service for a reduced number of customers is not ideal, but it is still a preferable alternative to closing down altogether.
Proactive, positive action will help you to keep attracting customers to your business. Focusing on your professional approach to safety measures and having a can-do attitude will always win you more business than making a series of negative sounding announcement about reduced trading hours or limited services. Framing is important and your tone of voice matters almost as much as the information you are trying to deliver. Always remember this when planning your marketing strategy during Covid 19.