This crisis will inevitably come to an end. While there is still a substantial argument in the political, scientific and medical communities about when the COVID-19 virus will have been “defeated,” and the timeframe around easing restrictions, a return to normal life is inevitable.
In fact, the tide is turning. Consistent, dramatic increases in infection rates are lessening, and grumblings have started, from the mainstream media and medical pundits alike, that discussions are needed around what happens next.
Let’s speculate for a moment.
The infection rate subsides to a point where questions start being asked about the effectiveness of continued restrictions. Politicians are forced to evaluate both personal isolation rules and economic factors. The likely outcome of this evaluation is an easing of measures for individuals and a gradual re-opening of the economy. It’s highly likely that industries that do not require mass gathering – such as ours – will be higher on the list of potential reopenings.
At that point, we will have an incredibly short period to get ready to re-open our clinics and create a fantastic experience for new and existing clients who have been thinking about coming to us for weeks on end.
If we use past announcements from the government as a guide, we will have between 24 and 48 hours between being told and opening the doors.
Most businesses will simply open the doors, and that will be that – business as usual. Except, the entire industry has been closed and then relaunched, this is anything but ordinary. It’s a chance to reinvent, reinvigorate and redefine who we are as businesses. We can engage new clients, build our existing community and increase the buy-in for those who already know us.
The “Grand Opening Strategy,” capitalises on the opportunity to relaunch your business. It involves understanding what emotions are governing the thoughts of your clients and potential clients, expanding your promotional reach and bringing people into your business at a more meaningful level.
First, we will discuss the reasons people purchase and why the current situation is unique. Then we will go into treatments, defining your offer and promotional channels.
Finally, we will talk about your actual relaunch. If you do it properly, it has the potential to redefine your business and give you a phenomenal head start in the newly re-opened industry.
Emotional Buying Triggers
We all buy things based on emotion. BMW, Starbucks and Rolex all charge a premium for, at least in part, an emotional reward. To take that one step further, all businesses sell things emotionally, most, however, are not aware of the emotion they are selling.
In times of crisis, people experience emotions that create inertia. Fear, sadness and anxiety are all feelings that make us do less than we normally would. It’s why the cliché of sitting on the couch eating rocky road ice cream after a breakup exists; when we feel these type of emotions we slow down or stop moving.
Newton’s third law says that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, so once this crisis is resolved – or at least once restrictions are eased – people will experience active emotions: happiness, joy, a sense of freedom, all of which encourage unusual amounts of action through reduced fear.
Your job is to capitalise and amplify those emotions to give your clients and potential clients an unthinkably joyous, happy and freedom-evoking experience.
At the centre of this is, of course, the product itself. Our treatments are the reason people walk in the door, and the experience is why they come back. Taking emotional buying triggers into consideration, take some time to think about the types of treatments that will be popular after restrictions are lifted.
We think that luxury and health-based treatments should be the focal point. Those that either make the client feel better physically or give them a sense of luxury that they haven’t been able to access in some time.
Additionally, low-cost treatments should appeal to the budget-conscious – a section of society that will no doubt increase considerably in the wake of COVID-19. In this category look to facials, microdermabrasion and other treatments that don’t cost the earth but give an instant emotional uplift.
Finally – and we are certainly biased in this respect – it seems painfully apparent that laser hair removal will be incredibly popular, following the first government-mandated mass isolation in over 100 years. The reasons for this should be uncomfortably obvious.
With all treatments, think about how you can build on them or combine multiple treatments to create an experience beyond the norm. Consider the nature of the market, all the promotions that will come from your competition and cut through the noise by giving your clients an experience that they couldn’t reasonably expect.
Your treatments, carefully crafted based on the economic and emotional factors, should form the basis of your offers.
The type of offers you use for re-opening will depend on your treatments and whether you are targeting new or existing clients.
We suggest you target both.
For new clients, it’s important to present something so compelling that they will rethink their existing loyalties and at least evaluate your offering (your website forms a significant part of that evaluation, tips on that below) the good news is they are more likely to consider changing now.
Regular buying patterns have been interrupted. Routines have been completely thrown out and people are no longer following their normal “this is how I’ve always done it,” thinking process. This interruption means that if you can provide them with something that is interesting, unique and appeals directly to the emotions they are experiencing, they will at least pay attention.
Importantly, it doesn’t necessarily need to be price driven, although this is a good strategy when financial constraints have been a consistent pain point throughout the economy.
- Think about combining a discount with an extended treatment, or multiple treatments.
- Look at your competition and see what they are doing wrong, solve that problem and share it in your offer.
- Do you have a unique treatment, or something you do that makes a treatment unique? Make communicating that part of your offer.
- For existing clients, you should be thanking them for their loyalty and bringing them back into your business with something meaningful.
- Guarantee appointments for regulars, even contact them directly and book them in
- Personalised packages – if you get a treatment in the first two weeks, you will get this as well
- Giveaways – help promote your suppliers
- Welcome back gifts – flowers, champagne, gift certificates, anything to show them you love them.
Your existing clients should feel that you are grateful and delighted to have them back, and the experience you give them should be far better than what they can remember.
You can have the most exceptional offer in the world that appears directly to the emotions of your clients and potential clients, but if they are not aware of it, they will not purchase from you.
You have, thanks to the digital revolution, numerous marketing tools available to you that don’t cost the earth. You have likely used one or two of these well, and either entirely abandoned or haphazardly tried out the rest. This isn’t a bad thing, it’s better to be good and consistent on one channel than it is to stumble through many, but now is the time to re-evaluate your marketing efforts.
The channels we suggest you focus on are:
• Your website
• Facebook advertising
We will go into each of these. How you implement them is, of course, entirely up to you but keep in mind that email competes with talking as the most popular form of communication, Facebook and Instagram are used more than any other social media channel and your website is how people judge you against competitors.
During this crisis, we have been inundated with bad news and updates of what businesses are doing to combat the virus. For the first few days we paid attention, but now it has turned into white noise as online news, email updates, social media threads and everything else start to blend into each other.
Now is the time to do something optimistic.
If you already have an email list of clients, brilliant, you can start thinking about how to engage them. If not, spend some time consolidating that information into an Excel spreadsheet or directly into an email marketing tool (our recommendations below).
When writing your email, keep the following in mind –
• Don’t speak to a crowd, correspond to an individual is if they were sitting across from you. This will make it feel more personal and meaningful.
• Get to the point. Get your offer into the subject line – you can do this at the moment thanks to the shortage of activity in our industry – and explain very clearly what you are emailing them for. “We will be back soon, and I wanted to share this with you before…”
• The aesthetic matters. Obviously, otherwise why would we exist? Think about your imagery, font and layout. Send a test email to yourself and make sure you consider it to be beautiful before you send it to anyone else.
Our recommendations for email marketing systems –
• MailChimp (recognised globally as the market leader in small business)
• Vision6 (Australian made, owned and operated)
If the statistics are to be believed, this is the channel you are using the most. Our industry loves Instagram, most likely because we are a visual industry and love sharing our work. Now it’s time to get some discipline around your visual communication and make sure it is in line with the rest of your digital assets.
There are plenty of tools you can use to plan and schedule your Instagram feed, but where do you get the content?
Stock imagery has changed considerably over the years and now, thanks to free online sharing tools, you can build a library of content that is instantly and easily shareable online. When choosing your imagery, consider the style and feel of what you are sharing.
As an example, here are our criteria for selecting images:
• There must be texture and depth, no single layers.
• Blue, grey, white (in our predefined colour palette) must be present
• The following emotions are targeted – calmness, happiness, confidence, hope
• The image must represent health and cleanliness
• All images must be natural
Our recommendations for Instagram scheduling tools –
Facebook, statistically, is not as effective as Instagram from an engagement perspective. However, it’s the functionality of Facebook that we are interested in – shopping, groups, advertising…
When you think of Facebook, look at it as an additional website rather than a social media platform. Mark Zuckerberg wants you to stay on the site rather than direct traffic elsewhere and has given you all the tools you need to do this effectively.
You probably have a Facebook page for your business, so go through and optimise it using the suggestions provided automatically when you log in.
Do you have products available online? Gift certificates? Physical products? Use the Google shopping tool to give your clients another way to engage with your business.
Once you are happy that your Facebook page is representative of your business, grab your scheduling tool and plan some posts using your criteria for imagery and carefully crafted captions.
There are other options when it comes to advertising – GoogleAds and Microsoft Advertising are just a couple. Most of them also come with a relatively steep learning curve, and a pathway to advanced personalisation – something that you will not have time for after re-opening.
Facebook advertising is easily accessible, cost-effective and highly targeted. By focusing on local advertising in your neighbourhood and suburb, you can keep your costs down and get your message focused where it needs to be.
You will need to create a Facebook business page if you don’t already have one, and this will give you access to Facebook Ads Manager. There are numerous paid tutorials online, but you can’t go wrong with jumping on YouTube.
Start with a low budget, and allow it to grow as you gain confidence and insights.
Your online presence is the front door to your business. It needs to be well designed and laid out. Still, the most crucial component of any website – especially when you are selling a physical product or service – is giving your clients and potential clients as many avenues as possible to make a purchase.
Go to your website and look at it as if you were a potential client who had never heard of your business.
– Is it easy to navigate?
– Can you book online, and is it obvious how you do this?
– Can you buy products online? Is this easy?
– Is the imagery an accurate representation of the business?
– How does it feel? Is it modern, dated, basic, complicated…?
– Does it give numerous reasons to purchase? Does it explain why treatments are better or unique compared to elsewhere?
Be honest. If there are improvements to be made, now is the time to do them. If you have physical products but don’t have an online store, consider Shopify or WooCommerce. If you don’t have a website, you can easily create one using WordPress or Wix.
Do Something Extraordinary – Your Grand Re-opening & Bringing It All Together
The truth is, anyone who claims to know exactly what is going to happen when we re-open is either exaggerating or a time traveller. There is no viable data, nor any recent experience that can be used to benchmark customer reactions following a complete shutdown.
So, the safest option is to do something extraordinary.
Define your offers, create some visual content and get them onto your platforms. Yell and scream about what you are changing and improving and then, keeping in mind that success in our industry involves our clients being physically present, invite people to come and see it:
Get your clients into your salon or clinic, serve them champagne, give them roses, put on a show – do whatever is authentic to you and your business and show them that you are excited about the future, grateful for their loyalty and make them feel it.
Call the local newspaper, ask someone to take loads of pictures or hire a photographer, share those photos online, give demonstrations, offer massive loyalty discounts and bulk packages.
This is an opportunity for you to have a reset of your business. It doesn’t matter if it was incredible before, you can take it to the next level and leave your clients and potential clients stunned with your energy, vitality, honesty and passion.
Most of the industry will likely sputter back into existence once given the go-ahead by the government. Don’t let that be you.
Be extraordinary instead.