Nothing in recent history has thrown us for a loop like COVID-19. Marketing during COVD-19 has been an iffy, touch-and-go process for many. It’s tough to focus on marketing when you’re worrying about how to pay the bills because your customers have disappeared. It’s hard to be creative when all you feel is fear.
It doesn’t have to be that way. In this article, I’m going to spotlight some unique marketing ideas I’ve run across that have kept these businesses running and relevant.
1. Dr. Peter Angerilli of Clearview Chiropractic in Burlington, ON, Canada, has been doing Facebook Lives every day where they interview their patients as well as making videos where they are teaching something. The unique aspect of interviewing patients is that they ask questions that other patients at home are wondering. Talking to actual patients helps answer questions and calm the anxieties of people at home. This strategy allows them to keep the lines of communication open with their current patients, create content so new patients can discover them, and generate goodwill when things return to normal.
2. Lisa Orme of Lola + Company Bloomington, IN, offers virtual shopping events via Facebook Live, called Tuesday Night Live with Lola, where she sells her items. They feature unique gifts, She encourages viewers to grab a glass of wine and settle in for some of their favorite things. When a viewer sees something she wants to buy, she posts a comment to the video and describes what it is along with the word SOLD, and an email address. Example: SOLD tan flower pot with polka dots firstname.lastname@example.org. Lola + Company sends out invoices by email and offers delivery the following Saturday.
3. Insurance agent Matt Phillips of First Choice Insurance of Poplar Bluff, MO, agent is making Facebook posts every day highlighting businesses in his town that are still open. His posts promote COVID discounts or new services or raise awareness for great businesses that are still helping their customers. First Choice not trying to pitch their own services. It’s all about shining the spotlight on other businesses. Because these posts make other businesses look good, there’s a high chance that those businesses will share these posts with their audience. These positive messages resonate with their audience, and the ongoing sharing of the posts creates goodwill for the insurance agency.
4. Seattle restaurant owner Eric Rivera runs Addo, a busy restaurant with constantly changing offerings. Rivera shifted everything to pickup and delivery and using his own staff to make drop-offs, rather than signing up with delivery services. He continues to mix up his menu with different offerings almost every day. A couple of times a week, customers can order a pack of three different meals to heat and eat at home. A wine club offers five- and 10-packs. He also advises chefs to start using a payment processing system where customers order everything ahead of time.
5. Gene Leal, manager of several locations of popular Southeast Texas eatery, Jason’s Deli, has begun to sell groceries in addition to menu items. Patrons can stock up on items like bread, eggs, bottled water, and more that they may not be able to find at their local grocery stores. Recently, Leal posted on several local Facebook groups to ask if there were enough interest in outlying communities (15-30 miles away from the restaurant) for Jason’s Deli to make a weekly community delivery. Residents of that community would order and pay for items ahead of time and Jason’s Deli would deliver the items to a central location in that community and practice social distancing in the delivery process. That strategy has been successful, with several regular community deliveries on the books.
6. The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City put Tim Send, their head of security, in charge of their Twitter account. His Tweets have gone viral, with the whole country praising his efforts. Some of his posts are educational, providing a glimpse into the museum’s displays. Others document Tim’s hilarious attempts to understand the workings of the Internet.
7. Mark O’Meara owns two University Mall and Cinema Arts movie theaters in Fairfax, VA. Since all movie theaters were closed as non-essential businesses and he could no longer sell movie tickets, he became inspired by a local McDonald’s that was offering takeout. He started to sell “curbside concessions,” hawking large tubs of popcorn for $3. On his first afternoon in business, he sold $25 worth of popcorn in 45 minutes. He now averages $300 to $400 a day in concession sales. He has recently begun to offer streaming movies that can be watched at home, and the tickets that patrons purchase from the movie distributor is split with the theater.
8. Texas’ Exceptional Emergency Centers have begun to offer Curbside ER Care rather than having visitors enter their facility. They instruct patients to drive up to their local location and park in a designated spot. The patent then calls the local center, and staff members walk out to the patient’s vehicle. In addition, they have been offering online coloring contests to promote children’s hand-washing, They pick a weekly winner and award a $25 gift certificate.
9. Robert Curry, owner of Innovative Air Solutions in Orange, TX, an HVAC service and installation company, partnered with several other Orange TX, businesses, including Old Orange Cafe, Matthews Jewelers, J Scotts Aflorist, and Granger Chevrolet for a Give Me a Break Giveaway. Included in the giveaway were a family dinner, a necklace, and a floral arrangement. The items were delivered by local Chevrolet dealer, Granger Chevrolet, in one of their new cars. Participants were asked to like and share the post and tag three friends to enter. The giveaway honored the late Dean Granger, owner of Granger Chevrolet, who passed away shortly before this event.
10, Poplar Bluff (MO) Chamber of Commerce usually hosts a “First Friday Coffee” event in which members gather for coffee in a different business each week to network and hear educational talks. Because those types of events are not permitted during the shutdown, the Chamber has prepaid for coffee at several coffee shops and held a Virtual First Friday Coffee. Chamber members can pick up a free cup of coffee and then return to their homes or offices and join a conference call where they discuss the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act.
11. Brian Winch of Quality Maintenance, Inc., out of Calgary, Alberta, Canada was concerned about losing clients as a result of businesses being closed down by the government. His company provides a litter cleaning service outside commercial properties for property management companies. If the tenants of the property management companies aren’t making money, those tenants don’t have money to pay their service vendors. So, Brian felt he had to do something to be proactive. He began to notice people discarding latex gloves, masks, and sanitary wipes on the ground, especially outside grocery and drug stores. Brian contacted a local TV station to pitch his observation. The TV station agreed that his service is more relevant than ever, and interviewed him and featured his story on the nightly news. He got great exposure for his company, and the broadcast was shared throughout social media. You can view his broadcast here.
12. Ohana Board Shop, a surf shop in San Jose, CA, published a great article on how local customers can reward their favorite local businesses. You can read that post here.
13. Local news and media site Orange Worthy’s managing director, Donna Gunter (that’s me!), put together a page on the site, called SETX Takeout Blitz, featuring all local restaurants who remain open during the shutdown in an attempt to help them promote their curbside and delivery services. Restaurant owners and managers have been very appreciative of this free service that helps them promote their local eateries.
I hope you have gotten an idea or two to implement for your business. If you’d like to brainstorm how you can implement some new marketing strategies during this pandemic, I’d love to chat with you — and I’ll do it free of charge — in a Profit Sparker session, normally $397. Just fill out a short questionnaire here.
If you’ve employed a unique marketing strategy and want to be highlighted in my next article, just contact me here.
Best-selling author Donna Gunter works with successful business owners who are experts in their fields and established in their industry and are seeking a way to stand out from their competitors. Using her Ideal Clients on Autopilot System©, she helps them determine the exact strategies to generate more qualified leads and better-paying clients with automated systems. This proven system makes all their marketing easier and more effective and they find themselves positioned as the only choice for their clients.