“People want personalized relationships. They want to know you’re in it with them.”
As we face another year of struggles with the current pandemic, we’re here to help you survive and thrive. Listen to this episode and make these three COVID-19 changes in your business that might make all the difference.
Mitigate COVID-19 impact on your business by focusing on your branding, visibility, your customers’ and workers’ protection and safety, and your relationship with your clients. Share with us how you have been adjusting during this pandemic as a business owner.
Roger: Welcome to Local SEO Today. I’m Roger Murphy.
John: And I’m John Vuong.
Roger: We wanna welcome our listeners today to our podcast. We’re very excited. We have a great topic today, John. It’s very relevant, very topical and it’s about the world of Covid and how it is impacting small…Any business really. But all businesses so that’s…It’s quite a timely topic.
John: Yeah, and 2021 has just arrived. 2020 was challenging for a lot of small business owners because we were hit with a lot of unknowns, a lot of restrictions, a lot of changes, a lot of pivots that happened and there is still a lot of unknown in the marketplace but we’re always optimistic. As business owners we took on this venture, we took on the risk and we’re here to you know, make sure that everyone gets through this together so one thing we’re gonna talk about, three major things and changes that will impact and help you elevate your business in 2021,
Roger: Terrific, and I will say John, and I was thinking about this because you run a business, I run a business as well. Little bit in a different world like real estate but things…It’s not what happens to you it’s how you react to what happens to you. It’s the mindset so this Covid thing, we’re all in this together. It’s how we approach it with our mindset so in terms of solutions and techniques as we’re all together, how we’re gonna get through this thing.
John: Exactly, it’s how do you adapt to these changes? How do you make sure that it doesn’t impact you on a very emotional, stressful level because I feel it. I feel the pain for a lot of our clients and the challenge is how do you stay afloat? How do you survive? How do you even pay the bills if there’s no revenue, if there’s no people shopping, if there’s no…You know, a lot of shutdowns have occurred and a lot of industries and businesses have been impacted especially if you’re into tourism, travel industries, right? Like…
John: How do you sustain that for the long period, right? So, what we’re gonna talk about is three major things that would really help you sustain and elevate you for not just this year but months and years to come.
Roger: So, first one John, is really I guess about branding and what…How are we gonna define, how to improve or how to work on your even your local brand for your business?
John: Yeah, branding is a very…I guess business marketing type of word. For as a business owner you picked your company name for a reason, right? Something that really resonated and you wanted people to think and remind them of what it stood for and there is always a value proposition or some sort of statement that people can resonate with when they think of your company. So when you think about it in a deeper level you wanna make sure that it sticks. People who think about your brand will know that, “Wow! They really focus on community. They focus on service, they really focus on providing the best experience for that customer who is buying that product or service. So what are you doing to strengthen your brand during this pandemic?
Roger: And to add on to that point John, many…A hundred percent of consumers are about supporting their local businesses so knowing that we have to…And that’s why we’re here for today, John. People who are listening today are typically…Are small/medium business owners. How do we help you, give you some ideas to build that local brand because we do know people are interested in supporting your local community so that idea of building that…Your brand locally to as you say keep your…Have a positive impression with consumers in your local marketplace.
John: And that’s very challenging during this pandemic, right? How do you get the word out there? How do you get people to remember you when they’re trying to just survive, right? Pay for rent, pay for food. And people want to stay in touch with people that they really wanna support that’s what brings everyone together. It’s a sense of community. There’s that relationship that people want to ensure that they continue supporting. They wanna help wherever they can because over the years maybe you’ve been…They’ve been very loyal to you, right? So what can you do to ensure that that brand stays very strong even during tough times.
Roger: Yep, invincible. Yeah, exactly,
John: So there’s a lot…
Roger: I can tell you…
John: Yeah, go ahead.
Roger: No, I was just gonna say in one instance and again every business is different. We’re gonna talk about it but in the service-based business, businesses I’m continually amazed, John at how many vehicles have no branding on them driving around the city so if you are a local service provider this a time to really think about if I’m out there driving on the road and I’m an essential worker and I wanna make sure that people know, “I’m your local person.” Whoever that person is. I’d remember a gentleman that was a small operator, entrepreneur in the plumbing and draining industry. He had one truck but he had spent a good investment in making it all graphic for his brand and the number of people that said that they saw his trucks. Plural. All over the city. It really resonated with him because he only had one truck but the visibility of his brand on his vehicle made a huge difference. People saw him everywhere and they commented on it so you can get your brand out there and keep it front of mind.
John: Exactly, and I think that’s so critical in a sense of understanding where your customers are now navigating and shopping, right? Behaviors have shifted if your homebased today you maybe spending more time in front of a computer than ever before so how do you get in front of potential prospects or your customers, potential users to know about you. Find you, be actively aware of you being in existence still or being able to provide that product or offering. There’s a lot of tools, there’s a lot of avenues, mediums but one thing I would always say is keep your brand consistent throughout the whole marketing process because if you’re always changing it up, trying different hooks, call to action, different slogans people aren’t sure who you really are. Who it resonates with so focus on consistency, focus on understanding your customers and how they consume your kinda brand or product or services and focus more emphasis to be there when they’re looking.
Roger: Exactly, and there’s many messages that come in with your brand so if your brand, if you can tie in that you take extra care in these days of Covid that you’re prepared so that your client is protected. Whether you’re a service-based company coming in. Do you have the proper equipment, face coverings, sanitizers, gloves, boots whatever it is. If you can enhance your brand to say, “We’re the guys that protect you, we provide you service and we’re the ones you can count on. That’s the sort of messaging that ties in with the brand that you could really build upon and if people go, “No..no..I know those guys. They always come properly prepared so that I’m protected from this you know, pandemic.” You know, issue that’s going on so…
John: So a lot of people just want certainty, right? They want to make sure that you can fill their gap, fill their need and their…You know, at a prompt time, affordable and safe, right? And I think safety is the utmost, most important so how do you push that content out there, how do you push the information? Do you have a website? Do you have social media assets? Do you go out there and broadcast what you do differently? Is it on a banner, is it written, is it in a video? And it could be just on your cellphone because that video on your cellphone is so powerful than it’s ever been, right? And it’s so easy to do and people don’t mind the authentic raw feel of it because it’s more genuine. People understand what it means to be in this kinda certain circumstance, right? You’re not gonna do a full on video production when nothings open, right?
Roger: So true. So you had the brand ties in with the extra services you provide. How you differentiate yourself from the competition, it’s a…There’s many pieces in that puzzle for sure.
John: I think the second point so we touched on brand already. The second point we’re gonna talk about is understanding that remote work or home based is here to stay and this applies not just to yourself, your staff, your suppliers and vendors. There’s a lot of components and maybe you don’t even need that real estate of that high traffic you know, place that you’ve always had. Paying huge amounts of rents, lease payments and upkeeps because things have shifted. You have to understand the demographic shift. The people don’t you know, they want more space, they want more security and they can work anywhere accessible to the phone, computer or internet, anywhere and it’s affordable and it gets things done the same way. So if you understand and acknowledge that there is a shift and not just demographics but your customers then you may understand there’s gaps and opportunities for you to spend more time cultivating remote workers and do it for yourself as well like how many days a week do you need to actually be in the office if less people are actually visiting you in person. Depending on what industry you’re in ofcourse.
Roger: That’s what I was just gonna say. Whether you’re in hospitality. We know that people are ordering in or ordering take out or there’s the food delivery services if you’re service-based again people are working from home. They’re not up and about driving as much as they were before so you’re…As a business owner trying to get your message out to people that are in front of the computer for way more than they used to be and they’re not travelling as much as they used to be, you gotta pivot for that, you gotta make adjustments for that.
John: And I think just touching on some examples like restaurants, right? People might have restrictions on how many people can go to the restaurant itself. But a lot of people are still ordering take out and for you to be on a really high, busy, traffic real estate intersection versus maybe going to a more remote area but being…Having more of a visual presence and shifting your marketing efforts to take out only that might save you a lot money and maybe you’ll see that it is more profitable and a lot more businesses may shift their…That whole strategy because it’s more predictable because in the restaurant world, you buy a lot of inventory, you staff up and no one comes there to your store. You’re wasting a lot of you know, funds, right? Like your profitability is not there so shifting it to do a lot of cooks and moving towards online orders and having more predictability might be able to sustain your brand for long term.
Roger:That’s right. And that again depends on the type of even food that you are speaking of. because it is true many people want that experience. They want to go out and enjoy nice dinners so in the interim the pivot that we are speaking of it could be short term, it could be you know, setting up fo more takeout, quicker delivery, curbside pick up and promoting that to your consumers let them know that, “Hey, dinner’s ready. You give us 35 minutes headstart or order online. We’re there for you and we’ll be here for you when you’re ready and we’re allowed to have sit down together, you know, in the future.” So let that message get out there. So that’s really all about pivoting in this time of Covid.
John: And again the branding is so important. The messaging is so important and understanding like if you’re going to be in business for the next 5,10.20 years then you have to understand that this is a little glimpse of the grand scheme of things. And maybe you won’t be profitable for one year, you may be in the red for a short period of time but in the long term why did you get into business in the first place? Is it really for that short-term win? Or is it really to sustain a lifestyle choice? To take care of your family, to really enjoy that community feel so understand the big picture vs the short picture.
Roger: And many businesses and it’s terrific John, And that I hear this from many business owners not all have been affected negatively from this Covid. I think we were even speaking of clients that are in the contracting business that were worried when this thing hit last year, the very beginning of the year. They thought I’m getting wiped out. In fact the contractor ended up having the busiest year he ever had. People are investing in certain things around their home and personal you know, they’re not traveling so their buying or investing in more you know, things to enjoy around the home or going to you know, not leaving the country so their travelling and maybe like The Marina’s are selling more boats than ever and the RV companies are moving more RV’s than ever so there’s real opportunity out there in this time of Covid to sort of react and be responsive to a situation .
John: Yeah, and understand there’s gaps in the marketplace, right? As a business owner you have to understand your services, what’s going on in your industry, how your customers are changing their behaviors, understanding what they’re looking for today is different than two years ago, three year now five years ago, 3 months ago, right? And understanding what are some of the keywords or understanding what kind of service, products that you’re offering may change as well. Catering, home delivery, contracting like for services there’s so many other things that people are shifting their budget constraints, right? They don’t go travel, they don’t go to restaurants. They spend more money cooking than ever. They spend more money on family you know, because in their home they’re investing a lot more money on home reno’s because they’re spending so much time here and they get frustrated with bad looking cabinets or kitchen or whatever it may be. So, understanding the dynamics of users is important. And I think the last thing we’re gonna touch upon is how important relationship building is. Basically the foundation of the business, right? Because without building strong relationships of your brand, of your business, the products or service that you’re offering people won’t know and want come back to you so what are you doing to even harvest a stronger relationship with your clients?
Roger: Exactly and you know, I was talking to one of our clients yesterday, John, He was…We were just talking about getting more reviews on Google. He instantly…He says, “I work so closely with my clients.” He’s in the HVAC industry. He works very closely with his clientele and he instantly got another ten just by asking you know, “Would you write a review for me?” That shows…That says to me he takes care of his clients because just by him asking, “Would you write me a review?” Instantly they flooded in. So this idea in these times an entrepreneurial mindset of how do I build this relationship with my client that I am their trusted provider for anything around their home. Whether this is as I say this is heating and ventilation services but he’s building a very tight relationships with his clients.
John: And if you’ve been in business for five years you probably have dozens if not hundreds of really loyal customers and for you to just let them know that you are in business or let them know that you are here to support and I want to still continue servicing you. Do you mind writing a review? Or what are you looking for during this time? Or just giving them a call or sending them an email, whatever it may be. It just makes them feel reassured, the customer that you are in it for the long term, you’re gonna still be here, you’re there to really look after their customers, listen, understanding how you can get better. These are things that you have to learn as a business owner or else you’re not gonna survive, right? And these are intangible assets that you need to really…At that skillset of building and harvesting good, solid, customer service and relationship building.
Roger: Yep, and at one end of the spectrum you’ve got your local coffee shop that has loyal customers because of the product, the quality but they also have loyalty cards. Even at a coffee shop level there are programs for many types of businesses where you have a membership and that membership gives you a certain…Whether it’s again I’m kinda speaking to heating, ventilation or air conditioning but if you’re part of the program you have faster service, 24 hour turnaround all the different things so you’re building a community that is being part of a service plan that they get something out of it, you get some revenue, certainty that’s coming in and you’re just providing ways of having this deeper relationship with everybody.
John: Exactly, people want personalized relationships. They wanna know that you’re with them. The price is right, you’re a good person, you’re gonna take care of them, the qualities always prompt, the service level…Everything that you expect when you go and seek out an HVAC supplier or a home renovation where you buy a product and service. These things you have to sit back and look at what your customers want. Understand why they continue coming back to you, right? And make them a part of your business so what are you doing differently, how can you make them even stronger of a tie? Personalize emails, calls, touchpoints, give as much value, build a community potentially. There’s a lot of things that you can do. Like newsletters, social posts. I know a lot of people are afraid of email marketing but personalized emails. Give them a little bit about what’s going on in your life or your business at this moment and people will want to read about what’s going on in you know, in your business, right? And maybe that’s a great chance for you to have a referral program or let them know like we’re not close. We’re open so if you still need us, you know, we’re here to serve you.
Roger: Yep, and if you help us, introduce us to a friend or whatever. Maybe there’s some sort of a reward program for letting them know that we take care of you and your family. If you can introduce us so we can get other clients, people that we can take care of. We will thank you for that as well so…
John: Yeah, and it’s so important like relationship building, understanding your ideal customer, understanding the lifetime value of that customer and maybe they are one of your best friends eventually, right? Customers become great friends and you get to really know them. Why they triggered themselves to pick you in the first place? And there’s something in common. They’re providing a good service value but they trust you as a human and there’s something there that’s a really strong bond in relationships. So really harvest, understand that whole journey, understand business behaviors and get better as a business owner to do better in all these different facets across you know, the lifeline of your business.
Roger: That’s right. And I know we spoke before John, the ideas of an entrepreneur. There are gonna be challenges, opportunities, there’s gonna be roadblocks. How you…We know, you know it’s going to come but it’s not what happens to you. It’s how you react and respond to what happens. As an entrepreneur with that positive mindset that, ”Listen, we’ve been thrown a curveball here.” Whatever it is whether it’s Covid or something similar. Some sort of new government regulation. You as a positive minded entrepreneur you will look to how do we pivot around this, how do we make this better and how do we get through this and end up even stronger on the other end.
John: Yeah, it’s always staying optimistic and positive and keep doing what you do because you love it, right? Why are you starting your business in the first place? To serve others.
John: Right? So if you continue doing that you’ll be happier than ever and everyone will be happy with your product and service.
Roger: So true, so true.
Roger: Well, that was great, John. Thank you. John, thanks for your time. And we want to thank everyone for joining us today in this podcast. See you again at Local SEO Today.
John: Thank you.
Roger: Thank you. Have a good day.