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Bouncing Back After COVID: Marketing Steps to Consider

How you interact with your audience now during the COVID-19 crisis will determine the strength of your future cash flow.  While you are dealing with time-consuming cancellations, lay-offs, and funding applications, make sure to keep a focus on your customers, the solutions you provide them, and the story you are telling about your business.  To bounce back effectively on the other side of the safer at home orders, you need to lean into marketing, not away from it.

So what are the next steps to consider?

Develop an In-Depth Understanding of Your Customers’ Changing Needs

Every action you take in your business should be centered around the problems of your current and future clients.  COVID has taken their problems and compounded them with the additional considerations of smaller guest counts, attendee safety, and social distancing protocols.  The answer to your cash flow issues lies in how well you provide solutions in this changed context and the effectiveness of your communication.

Your clients are forgoing larger gatherings, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t want to maintain the essence of a celebration on a smaller scale.  If you own a rental company, you could develop at-home party packages perfect for gatherings of 10 people or less that could be shipped to their doorstep.  Make them gorgeous with extra “wow” details to change the dynamic from disappointment to gratitude for an opportunity to make more meaningful connections.

If you maintain a flexible perspective, you may be surprised at how shifting your services could create additional streams of income, enhance your offerings to be more fit for purpose, and strengthen the perception of your business with your target audience.

Take an Honest Look at Yourself and Your Business

Once you are in tune with the needs of the market, you need to make sure that you have a complete picture of where you stand in relation to your competitors.  COVID has affected everyone in the industry and many are developing similar solutions.  Your job is to leverage your strengths to stand out from the pack.

Take the time to do a SWOT Analysis.  SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.  Double-down on your strengths, develop a plan to turn your weaknesses into strengths, take advantage of new opportunities, and plan for how to address your threats.

The most important category to focus on is your strengths.  These are the things other people say you do well and where you feel the most joy.  If you are particularly good at supporting couples emotionally through the process of planning their wedding, you could make that strength a larger piece of your business by partnering with a Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) to offer consultation packages as part of a more robust wedding planning bundle.  That would help shape your brand in the marketplace and assist you in running a business that feels authentic to who you are.

Make a Commitment to Consistently Engaging Your Current Audience

Build relationships now that will turn into future sales.  The best way to build relationships online is to show up consistently with relevant, helpful advice.  Create an editorial calendar that includes social media posts and blog posts to make sure that your message is aligned with the problem you solve, your strengths, and what you sell.  Batch-create content in advance to prevent sporadic posting, which will not benefit you or your future revenue.

The simplest way to get started is to pick the top 3-5 things you want to be known for.  Talk about one of those things each week across your platforms.  Once you are done with all of your topics, start again.

For example, if you are a catering company that specializes in authentic Italian food from the Tuscany region and you want to be known for bringing modern Italian lifestyle to your guests, you could focus on the topics of Italian ingredients, cooking techniques, and culture.  If your first week were all about Italian ingredients, that is what your posts would be focused on as well as your blog and email blasts.  You could also mix up your topics throughout the week to create variety.

Make Yourself Known to Your Future Clients

While you are engaging your current audience on social media, you need to broaden your reach and capture the attention of new people who need your services.  It is time to participate in the conversation.  Guest blogging, participating in podcasts, hosting webinars, and promoting free advice via social media ads are some of the top ways to grow your presence in the market.

A floral designer could do a series of Facebook Live videos that take potential clients behind the scenes, teach them how to create the perfect bouquet, and introduce viewers to new and different flower varieties.   Then, they could turn that Facebook Live into an ad promoting their business.  These types of ads are highly effective and they are a great way to introduce yourself as a helpful expert.

Now is the time to develop a cohesive marketing plan that will create a solid foundation for your business growth.  Leave ad hoc marketing activities in the pre-COVID era and get serious about implementing proven marketing strategies to get and keep a consistent stream of clients.

Aleya Harris, an award-winning marketer and former chef and catering company owner, is the Owner of Flourish Marketing, an agency that provides marketing education, strategy, and tools to help wedding, catering, and event professionals get and keep a consistent stream of clients.   Aleya is a StoryBrand Certified Guide and she uses that narrative-based framework to develop clear, engaging, and highly converting marketing assets, like websites and social media solutions, for her clients.  Aleya is the current Marketing Committee Chair for NACE and a top speaker at conferences and events like Catersource and The Special Event.

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Most catering and events business owners fail at making money doing what they love because they don't know how to market themselves. Through her company, Flourish Marketing, Aleya offers marketing education, strategy, and tools that help wedding, catering, and events business owners stop staring at a blank calendar and start getting and keeping a consistent stream of clients. Aleya is a Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef who also happens to be an award-winning, marketing strategist, brand manager, content developer, and storyteller. She has a background as a marketing executive on the leadership teams of large foodservice organizations and has also been a private chef and catering company owner. Aleya speaks your language and understands your challenges. She knows how important it is to work in your passion. That's why for the past 12 years, she has been focused on helping over 1,000 accounts, brands, and business owners to be successful. Aleya is a dynamic interpersonal communicator and presenter with the exceptional ability to inspire, motivate, and equip her audience. She loves opportunities to connect, help people develop, and create the space for her fellow entrepreneurs to see their visions manifest.

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