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What Being Visible Throughout Lockdown Did for Us (A Story from a Warwickshire Marketing Agency)
“Stay active, stay visible!”
That’s been the consistent message from marketing people like me since before Coronavirus stopped the world in its tracks.
From the beginning of lockdown I’ve remained adamant that as business owners and brands we needed to stay visible.
“Keep posting”, “Network online”, “Keep connecting”, “Continue to follow up”.
We’ve been banging that drum for nearly three months now.
We didn’t just share those messages to look cool or topical though; it was our own internal mantra.
We knew this mattered. We knew that even if we didn’t get one new client from it, we’d be front of mind when people were ready to buy again.
Well… that’s not quite how it turned out at all. What happened was actually far better than just staying front of mind.
So here’s our lockdown marketing story…
What Being Visible Throughout Lockdown Did for Us
March wasn’t the first full month of lockdown, but it was the month when it all kicked off in the UK.
Businesses were already tailing off, confidence wavered, and many reported problems with continuing to trade. There was a lot of uncertainly and stress. But at the end of March, despite losing a few clients, we posted our best month in business. Ever!
This was in part down to staying very active and very visible.
April showered us
April wasn’t so good, but what it did bring were loads of new clients.
We did the classic ‘pivot’ move and ran our courses online and gained clients we wouldn’t have gained for real life workshops. We gained new clients for Facebook Ads and Google Ads as businesses scrambled to get online and capitalise on great opportunities. A lot of people began to realise that they wanted to know what we know, which is awesome. Even the businesses who couldn’t trade at all understood that the key to their future success was preparing early and staying positive.
All in all, aside from some challenges with sick team members (who both recovered from Covid-19) and Jo not having any childcare, we had an ‘OK’ April.
May be better
And then in May, we beat last May’s turnover and profit! We actually did better this year than last. And actually, as a whole, the first 5 months of 2020 far outweighed the same in 2019.
But that’s not helpful for you…
What I really wanted to do here was explain what we did, why we did it, and what the results were.
Because there’s still a load of time to stay active and visible and you need to start or ramp it all up, now! Some people will want to go back into the big wide world and find some semblance of normality as soon as possible. Others will be cautious and prefer to stay at home until they feel safer. Both are valid opinions. What will your customers or clients choose to do?
We’ve emailed twice a week (sometimes more), every week throughout.
Email has always been part of our strategy. It’s always worked. So why would we stop just because the world ground to a halt?
We continued to email out the Friday Digital Roundup each and every Friday morning. Sometimes it was tricky to stay upbeat but we wanted to cheer up our subscribers by finding funny and quirky stories, so we did.
We’ve emailed our blogs when we wrote them.
We kept our email subscribers opening our emails despite them being officially ‘out of office’.
Lockdown newsflash: Out of office doesn’t mean of pocket! People still worked remotely, often opening our emails and buying our products.
Since March 1st we’ve posted over 200 times in our Facebook group
Our Facebook group became the home for most of our content and we chose to make sure we were very active in there.
We kept the group positive and upbeat and tried (at first) to limit the CV news to one thread.
As time went on, this became impossible, but we still managed to keep some decorum while allowing for each individual’s point of view.
The group was a great place to market our services and a lot of folk booked our workshops from there.
Lockdown newsflash: Everyone’s off work, but ON-line – keep appearing!
We ran a free training course via Facebook live in our group
We also gave a free training session to everyone in our group via a 2-hour Facebook live. We aimed it squarely at staying visible.
We had over 100 people attend the training, but that wasn’t the only win for our marketing…
Off the back of the news we had some local PR and since then have had two live streams booked with Small Business Saturday, a live stream with the local Chamber of Commerce, three podcast interviews, and subsequently more people joining the group for the training.
Lockdown newsflash: People still want to learn. How can you engage them, simply with some free and valuable content?
I’ve shared over 30 live videos in the Facebook group alone
Video has always been powerful but in lockdown we chose to use live video with almost daily updates to add some positivity and also some free content to help folk through the lockdown and bring our community together.
Video – daily video – is a superb way to keep your face and brand front of mind.
Lockdown newsflash: People are staring at their phones even more in lockdown – stare back and help and support them.
We’ve reached almost 7,000 people in our Facebook ads audience almost 20 times each
During lockdown we also ran a load of Facebook ads. We promoted a mix of blogs, workshops, online events, and free videos.
We focused on those who already knew us (remarketing on Facebook to website, email, and Facebook fans) and reached them almost 20 times each with our ads. And then we used their profiles to reach others like them almost 10 times over as well.
Lockdown newsflash: When fewer people are advertising, ads are cheaper! (And sometimes you have to pay to be seen.)
We’ve held 10 online virtual pubs
We also started running our own online networking events in our ‘Social Saloon’. The events were (and still are at the time of writing) just the tonic at 4:30pm on a Friday afternoon.
With so many people missing the real pubs and of course in person networking, this gave a different angle to all those Zoom networking events.
The events have been sponsored, meaning the sponsors had more visibility and the software costs were paid for.
Lockdown newsflash: We’re not a networking business, but we’re social and we like chatting to people, so there was nothing wrong with holding networking events.
You look busy…
Perception is important in business, as is trust.
Would you work with or buy a product from a company who were down on their arse? Maybe? I guess it depends on the company.
But I’m almost certain that you’ll work with one that’s successful… even if it’s just perceived success.
Both Jo and I stayed active on LinkedIn and Twitter, posting almost daily as we always do. We’ve kept networking online, within our time constraints.
We kept our email, website, social, and promoted audiences well aware of our activity and actions.
We, in turn, have so many services on hold with other companies right now as we can’t use them due to lockdown, but they can still communicate with us, right?
Our hair salon (shout out to Headmasters in Leam) have been active and upbeat on social. They’ve made sure their clients are on a waiting list ready for when they open. For many, that’s all you need to do.
We even had advice from our hairdresser Tom about my ‘Covid cut’ that Jo did with clippers Tom suggested buying. Tom also suggested some colour toner to keep Jo’s hair the right side of red and not orange! He didn’t make any direct cash from this, but he’s smart enough to know he’s playing the long game.
They’ve stayed visible, even though we can’t buy from them. We will though, as soon as we can, and that’s the point of this blog.
We stayed highly visible and the results are in
- March was our best month ever.
- April was tough but very profitable.
- May was as good as last March and better than May 2019.
- And in June we start with two brand new clients on our biggest product.
So many people I’ve spoken to have said “So you guys look busy” “It looks like business is great for you”.
We stayed visible, people noticed, some bought, more will.
In lockdown, even if you’re shut and locked up like our local hair salon, you can still be present within your local area, on your email list, in your group or by attending networking meetings online.
No one who knew of us was in any doubt that we were open for business.
We even updated our website with a Covid-19 banner and updated our Google My Business listing each week, too.
Stay hungry. Stay visible. Keep posting.
We’re living proof that it works and even though we’re fortunate to be able to keep trading by the nature of what we do, we’re adamant that staying active now will make you front of mind when people CAN buy from you again.
And it won’t be long, now.
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