During quarantine, business owners must think outside of the box now more than ever. My first challenge to you: how can you maintain relationships when interactions are 100% remote? Not easy, but completely possible. I successfully shifted my business model to meet the needs of my customers. I have simple tools and creative strategies to teach you. But first, you must ask yourself, “how can I meet my customers where they are today?”
I was two days away from my business expansion launch. Our entire business model was built on establishing community connections. A large dining room table filled our store front window. The table was set for our first event. Our online calendar was packed with wine and cheese tastings, book clubs, and private events. It was time to pivot to maintain these community needs. Scroll to learn how I pushed through the first 4 weeks of the pandemic with a brand new business.
1. IDENTIFY THE NEED
This was clear. People are feeling isolated. Our customers need to feel connected. This became our first priority. How can we maintain this connection remotely? Our vision was to encourage and celebrate. This would satisfy the need and reduce the associated feelings of isolation. We looked at our products and services. Then implemented creative ideas such as the ‘Wine Fairy’. We took the product out in the community by surprising people with hand written gift messages and two bottles of wine. We created custom gift sets for teachers, secretarys, and birthday celebrations. We sent out sixty wine fairies in less than 4 weeks. This checked our first box big time - cultivating connection!.
2. IMPLEMENT MOBILE RESOURCES
We created new ways for clients to order and communicate on the web. We made sure everyone received a response by creating auto-responders to match online forms. We offered two delivery windows daily, created fields for ordering, remote codes for book club dial-ins, and shopping cart features for DIY kits for our virtual cocktail classes. I know this sounds simple, but it was highly effective. There was immediate follow up after every correspondence. This increased connection.
3. COLLABORATION WITH 'LIKE' BUSINESSES
We found companies in our community who had similar products and strengths. We teamed up with Popover (a local cafe) to cross promote Mother’s Day services and Queenie’s (a local cocktail bar) to offer virtual cocktail classes and DIY kits. Now customers craft their own cocktail with us at home. This collaboration created a synergy that cultivated more community and connection.
HOW TO THRIVE TODAY
Growth is not about more sales, or pushing more products. Each channel we created in this pandemic fosters a greater sense of connection. It also promotes growth. The recipient of a Wine Fairy delivery had no idea who we were, until now. That is exposure to 60 new people in the community. When you pivot and center your business model on a service that meets the needs of the community exactly where they are, you create growth. What service can you provide that sparks encouragement? How can you collaborate with others? Start thinking about online resources that encourage a personal and immediate response. Your business can survive this pandemic.