July 16th, 2020

Conquer the Change: Re-Engage Your Customers Using These 5 Principles

marketing online post COVID

How to re-engage your customers during COVID-19 is on our minds as marketers here at Franchise Ramp. Many small businesses are faced with the new reality: your customers have changed. How can you engage them again? What we’ve seen across the board is shifted customer behavior toward fulfilling more utilitarian-based demands for fundamental needs. 

COVID-19 is a different beast than recent economic crises and recessions such as the Great Recession of 2008 and the Mideast oil crisis, whose causes were financially driven.

“The fundamental driver of the pandemic is health and safety concerns and hence customer driven. Customers’ immobility and desire to be safe in the current environment has resulted in volatility in purchases and productivity across idiosyncratic product categories, resulting in a net economic crisis of a type that has not been witnessed by anyone alive today.”

Rohit Deshpandé, Sebastian S. Kresge Professor of Marketing

How To Re-Engage Your Customers

As complicated as the times are, our job as marketers remains a crucial requirement for recovery: to reassure your consumers about the future and give them some sense of confidence that the future is something that they should invest in. 

The way franchise owners and operators can adapt to shifting customer wants is by engaging a more customer-centric philosophy. How does this translate? Rather than expecting your customers to come to you, you need to go to your customers.

The velocity or rate of adoption that your business needs to adjust to a new directional reality will depend on customer demand. While some normal activity is starting to bounce back, due to the many changes impacting local economies — state rules, consumer behavior, and social unrest — many of the consumer interest shifts we saw in March and April started to rebound in May, with dramatic shifts in June. 

According to Yelp: Local Economic Impact Report updated June 25, 2020, Outdoor activities that became popular at the height of the pandemic as people were finding ways to stay active while social distancing – such as mountain biking (down 40%), lakes (down 34%), golf (down 33%) and hiking (down 28%) – have dropped in consumer interest since May 1 relative to other active activities. People are starting to feel more comfortable participating in indoor activities, with increased consumer interest for escape games (up 182%), Go Karts (up 147%), axe throwing (up 113%), gyms (up 81%), bowling (up 63%) and yoga (42%). That said, in some instances people are still finding ways to stay outdoors while social distancing with an increased interest in mini golf (up 132%), amusement parks (up 28%) and horseback riding (up 21%).

There have also been significant shifts in consumer interest for health and wellness businesses with an increased interest in saunas (up 75%), reflexology (up 69%) and dentists (up 28%), while skilled nursing (down 46%) and hospitals (down 37%) decline.

Source: https://www.yelpeconomicaverage.com/yelp-coronavirus-economic-impact-report

5 Customer-Centric Principles Your Business Can Use Today

  1. Expand your digital footprint. The power of digital to host and deliver content to your audience has always been strong – you need to harness this more than ever. Online traffic is the new foot-fall and unless your content is discoverable online – no one will see it.
  2. Reward your loyals. Consider starting special offerings to customers requiring special considerations because of their risk level, creating more loyal customers for the longer term. You could also consider better enabling deliveries to seniors, those with disabilities, and those in quarantine or self-isolation.
  3. Connect emotionally. Businesses that connect emotionally with their external and internal customers and emotionally and physically with employees are expected to perform better than firms who just connect with their customers physically. When you put out communications and brand messaging, be genuine, and offer help. Connect with your audience on a human and emotional level.
  4. Recognize financial constraints. Many customers are facing financial hardship caused by layoffs, furloughs, and a reduction in their employment hours due to the COVID-deaccession. Connecting with your customer and future customers with empathy and recognition is key!
  5. Turn threats into opportunities. Instead of waiting for your customers, proactively reach out to their potential and current customers about products/services, community benefits, and health safeguards. As Henry Ford said, “Those who stop marketing to save money are like those who stop a clock to save time.”