As rumblings continue about how the economy will emerge from the COVID-19 crisis, I reached out to Kim Shepheard, President of Shepheard Marketing. Kim and I have been working together for years now. Kim’s a trusted advisor for my franchise, Monkey Bizness. She has been working in the franchise industry for the past five years with nationally recognized concepts. Kim was responsible for many of our early marketing strategies at Monkey Bizness, and we still rely on some of the systems and processes she helped us put in place.
Too many businesses have just shut off their marketing the past four to six weeks. While traditional marketing may not be appropriate right now, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be connecting with your customers and helping your franchisees adapt their messaging.
Below I ask Kim how small businesses and franchisors should be adapting their marketing during this time. She does a great job of talking about customers messaging and strategies to navigate this time.
KA – What should franchisors and business owners know in general about communicating with customers and potential customers during this time?
KS – Businesses should be communicating concern and support during this difficult time, whatever that looks like to their customers. For example, a children’s franchise might talk about how they have closed during the lockdown. From there, how the company reviewed and upgraded their cleaning processes for a safe return to fun. In addition, how these cleaning measures will be ongoing to keep up cleanliness standards.
KA – Should your messaging change and if so, how?
KS – As time goes on, the messages should continue to show support. People want to know how you are helping the local community and any special offers or programs during this time. What can you do online? Are there discounts for future use? Is the company utilizing contact-less products that can be picked up or delivered? Are you accepting donations for community benefit, such as first responders or families and elders in need?
KA – What advice do you have for a business owner, franchisee, or franchisor that wants to market, but because of the crisis, they don’t feel like they have the budget?
KS – Reach out to your customers via email first, and follow up with phone calls. Let them know you are there and that you care. Nothing beats the personal touch, especially during social distancing. If I got a call from a business that I frequent, it would make me feel like that is the first place I would go when things reopen.
KA – What are some budget conscience strategies to market right now?
KS – Through any possible communication such as Facebook, Instagram, email blasts, and of course, phone calls. Think of caring and hopeful messages. Show solidarity with your community by sharing your personal (and business) experiences right now.
KA – How should messaging change based on the platform you are using to communicate to customers (i.e. Email/Facebook/Instagram)?
KS – This is not business as usual, so don’t pretend it is. Be real about what is going on, be supportive to your customers and clients, and of course your family and friends. Stay positive.
KA – For a business that has had to change or introduce new products/services during this time, what is the best way to let people outside of their current customer base know? (Specifically, I am thinking of a restaurant that now delivers for example).
KS – If you are trying to gain a new audience, the best way is through testing online advertising on platforms like Facebook and Google Ads. You can decide your budget and start small, testing the waters. You can target by specific demographics, geographics and interests. At the very least you can use the data gathered to make future decisions. Obviously, the larger the budget, the more people you will reach. Be specific about the call to action in your ads. If you are not sure, you can work with a consultant – even on a temporary basis.
KA – Can you name a couple of aspects that businesses and franchisors should consider when putting together a high-level marketing strategy during this time?
KS – What is the best platform for your business or industry? You may try one or two and compare the results for ROI. Who are you targeting and why? Is this a short- or long-term campaign? What are the ultimate goals, brand recognition or sales?
KA – How can franchisors help coach their franchisees through marketing during the crisis?
KS – Test out some of the above strategies for a week or two at first. After an initial period, talk about what worked and didn’t work. By following certain guidelines, though your franchisees may be in different markets, the above methods can be applicable and customizable for their particular market.
Most businesses do not have a full-time marketer on staff, but still need to use best practices to reach the right people at the right time to become customers and get repeat business. Kim Shepheard has discovered there is a need among independent businesses for these types of services and advising when it comes to marketing, and they can truly benefit from outside help in this area.
With years of marketing experience in the corporate world in the industries of television production, healthcare, finance, accounting and franchising, Kim chose to go out on her own to help bring the best practices to the small-mid sized business owner who needs CMO level support, strategy and execution.
My name is Matt Krieger, and I am the founder of Krieger Analytics, a CFO advisory partner for small businesses and franchisors. I am also the owner and franchisor of a concept called Monkey Bizness, in Denver, Colorado.
During my time as a small business owner, I realized the benefits that a CFO could bring to smaller organizations. I also realized that franchisors and small business owners didn’t have the need (or budget) for a full-time CFO. That is why Krieger Analytics is a part-time resource for our clients. While most think of CFO’s being involved in finance and accounting (we are), I am also involved in so much more. I partner with my clients by coaching them on strategy, gaining clarity on their business, building efficient and effective processes, and making confident business decisions. Conversations are free, so don’t hesitate to reach out to me at email@example.com.