With the new reality of social distancing and isolation comes the challenge for small business owners wondering how to use your digital platforms to effectively communicate with your customers and clients. The last few weeks have been a challenging time for all small businesses – this is certainly the biggest challenge we’ve ever faced at Out-Smarts and judging by the calls we have been fielding from clients and our community asking about what they should communicate, how they should communicate and how to pivot to doing more business online, we are not alone.
So today I am sharing some of the wisdom and guidance we have been offering our customers when they ask about what and how to communicate effectively in the face of COVID-19.
What Small Businesses Should Communicate Around Covid19
Stick to the Facts -it is important to stick to the facts as they pertain to your business and customers. Determine what your community really needs to know from you right now and communicate only those important points that relate to your business. The emphasis should be on containment and mitigation procedures, new means of operating and on supporting your community.
Outline Your Processes – use your digital channels (email, blog, website are best) to tell your customers about the processes you have in place to ensure their safety and that of your staff. This should include information on social distancing measures, new hygiene practises that you have put in place as well as ways that your customers can support your efforts to keep them safe. Outline the specific steps you are taking regarding closures and when you hope to be operational. If you have new ways of doing business tell your customers about them – for example how to book a meeting with you online, link to your online store, tell them about new payment processes or delivery options.
Hours Of Operation – if you have new hours of operation, you should post them on your website and digital media too. Remember to update any directory listings such as Google My Business with this information as well.
Contact Information – if you have a new way for people to get in touch with you like a new phone number or email address tell people about that and encourage them to use these means to get in touch should they wish to do so. Post this on your website and social channels.
Provide Regular Updates – if things change as your situation evolves, communicate these changes to your customers.
How Small Businesses Should Communicate During the Pandemic
Keep Calm – we are all worried and concerned about our current situation, don’t add to that anxiety in any way. Keep your tone professional, communicate with empathy and don’t sensationalize in any way.
Be Concise and Clear – this is not the time to write wordy communications that waffle and make it hard for readers to understand so get the point and keep your communications short and sweet.
Appreciation – remind your customers how much they mean to you and your business.
Show That You Care – recognize that we’re all facing challenging times and communicate with empathy.
Avoid Using Jargon – avoid using jargon or buzzwords that might confuse readers. Stick to layperson’s words and easy to understand terms.
Don’t Capitalize – this goes without saying but do not take advantage of the situation in any way.
Avoid FULL CAPS – avoid adding to the anxiety by using too many capital letters in your text. You don’t want readers to feel like you are shouting at them.
Be optimistic not Alarmist – when posting to your social channels keep your messages as positive as possible and avoid causing needless worry or panic.
Watch Your Language – Don’t weigh in on things that have nothing to do with your business and be careful of the words you use to make sure they won’t be misconstrued. Avoid terms that bring to mind the things we are all missing – like hand in hand or get in touch.
Tone it Done – consider your tone – if your brand is edgy and irreverent you should consider toning that down a little, just for now.
Images – avoid using images of people together, shaking hands or hugging in your posts and content.
Other Important Considerations
Pause or Reframe – reevaluate marketing campaigns or initiatives that you had in the pipeline – depending on what they are it’s likely best to postpone them for now or to adapt them respectfully to the situation.
Reach Out Personally – personal email is a great way to stay in touch. Consider sending a personal email to your key connections, bearing in mind the points outlined above. Make these one to one communications and avoid sending bulk emails from your personal email. If you have a bigger list of people you want to get in touch with you should use (or get set up) with an email tool like MailChimp.
Stay Compliant – now is not the time to spam people so make sure that you take into account the laws governing privacy in your area such as the Canadian Anti Spam Legislation, CAN-SPAM Act in the US and the General Data Protection Regulation in Europe. For example – in Canada you can’t add a list of email addresses and start sending emails to people without their express permission unless they are current customers (in the last 2 years).
Keep Your Social Media up to date – pin a post to the top of your channels that communicates your key messages. Use your social platforms to keep customers up to date, informed and engaged. Consider using real-life stories to inspire and bring people together.
I hope that you find these tips valuable and that you can use them to take positive action for your business at this time. If you have any suggestions that you would like to share, please do so in the comments so that we can update this post.
We’re all facing an uphill challenge but remember that this too shall pass. Be well, stay strong and if we can support you in any way, please contact us.
City Centre Urgent Primary Care Centre (UPCC) opened in late 2018 with a mission to alleviate emergency wait room times by providing timely access to care for people with urgent but non-life-threatening conditions. The UPCC is also mandated to enable attachment of patients with family physicians in their local communities.
They had a unique problem for us to solve; as a brand new concept in Vancouver, they needed to educate the public on what an Urgent Care facility is, and they needed to start getting patients in the door. Methodically we went about creating a highly targeted online presence that would help potential patients in the downtown Vancouver core to find out about UPPC. During the time that we worked with them, daily patient volume increased more than twelve-fold since January 2019. Online, UPCC showed up in over 70,000 Google searches, and over 7,000 searchers took actions on their listing.
As part of our strategy, we implemented a 4-pronged digital marketing approach: paid google search ads, tracking google analytics, social media setup, ad campaigns, and content creation.
Google Search Ads
For a medical centre, local listings are a main area of focus. We used Google Search Ads to specifically target people living and working in the downtown core. For people searching on Google for ‘Urgent Care’ and ‘find a doctor’ related searches we set up Ad campaigns that had over 60,000 impressions and drove over 3,000 highly targeted searches to the website – all from searches from the downtown core.
Analyzing the outcomes of our work is a crucial part of what we do. Each month, our team prepared detailed reports for the UPCC team to review. They also have administrative access to view their campaign’s progress at any time. With all of our clients, we offer the option for monthly strategy meetings to disseminate the data and plan for more growth. Between the months of June-August, we were able to track a web traffic increase of 25%.
We utilized social media as a powerful tool for education and positioning. It was important not only to spread the word about the new clinic, but also to educate the public on what medical situations are best suited to an Urgent Care Centre.
To help UPCC reach their goals, we worked with their team to develop a strategy to increase brand awareness, build online relationships, and increase their website exposure. We were able to learn their voice, objectives, and core values by working closely with key members of the clinic to ensure we knew the organization inside and out.
We managed the UPCC across three major platforms, Facebook, Instagram, and Google My Business. We built brand awareness by growing the UPCC following on social media to increase word of mouth and authentic referrals and reviews. The result is a following that directly matches the demographics of their target audience.
In just a few short months of starting their social media accounts from scratch, the monthly Facebook reached 6,094 visitors, and we grew the monthly Instagram impressions to 5,200. The UPCC Google My Business page saw over 25,000 monthly views, and 2,500 direct actions on the page, including 1,400 phone calls. Below is a snapshot of the directions requests based on our targeted approach.
In the Client’s Words
“Working with the Out-Smarts team helped us launch our new clinic with clear goals and directives. They spearheaded the digital strategy so we could focus on patient care inside of the clinic. Their approach was knowledgeable, tenacious, patient, professional. We highly recommend Out-Smarts to anyone looking to integrate digital marketing into their business.”
Ali Shukor, Director of Clinical Strategy
Why We Loved This Work
At the crux of City Centre Urgent Primary Care Centre’s campaign was the singular mission of making it easier for patients to find the urgent care they need. When it comes to digital marketing, that means focusing on the local vicinity. More and more people turn to search engine results prior to making a conversion. By focusing in on the downtown core population, we were able to position City Centre Urgent Primary Care Centre as a valuable resource to the community.
Summer’s in full swing, and it’s the perfect time to get caught up on a little business reading. Are you looking for entrepreneurial inspiration and not sure what to read next? We reached out to our influential colleagues to find out about the business books they are enjoying this summer.
Read on to be inspired by the books our B Corp Founders, Digital Marketing Influencers, partners, and our staff are reading right now.
‘”It’s a short and compelling read on how something as simple as a short checklist can solve problems and workflow issues. Needless to say, we now have workflow and process checklists at Fairware to try to minimize common mistakes.” – Denise Tashereau
About the book
“Atul Gawande shows what the simple idea of the checklist reveals about the complexity of our lives and how we can deal with it.”
The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles, by Steven Pressfield
“Bestselling novelist Steven Pressfield identifies the enemy that every one of us must face, outlines a battle plan to conquer this internal foe, then pinpoints just how to achieve the greatest success. The War of Art emphasizes the resolve needed to recognize and overcome the obstacles of ambition and then effectively shows how to reach the highest level of creative discipline. Think of it as tough love… for yourself.”
Here Is Real Magic: A Magician’s Search For Magic In The Modern World, by Nate Staniforth.
“Here Is Real Magic follows Nate Staniforth’s evolution from an obsessed young magician to a broken wanderer and back again. It tells the story of his rediscovery of astonishment–and the importance of wonder in everyday life–during his trip to the slums of India, where he infiltrated a three-thousand-year-old clan of street magicians. Here Is Real Magic is a call to all of us–to welcome awe back into our lives, to marvel in the everyday, and to seek magic all around us.”
Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, by Elizabeth Gilbert
“Balancing between soulful spirituality and cheerful pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to uncover the “strange jewels” that are hidden within each of us. Whether we are looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to address challenges in our work, embark on a dream long deferred, or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic cracks open a world of wonder and joy.”
21 Lessons for the 21st Century, by Yuval Noah Harari
“Yuval Noah Harari’s 21 Lessons for the 21st century is a probing and visionary investigation into today’s most urgent issues as we move into the uncharted territory of the future. As technology advances faster than our understanding of it, hacking becomes a tactic of war, and the world feels more polarized than ever, Harari addresses the challenge of navigating life in the face of constant and disorienting change and raises the important questions we need to ask ourselves in order to survive.”
The Opposite of Hate: A Field Guide to Repairing Our Humanity, by Sally Kohn
“As a talking head on Fox News, Kohn managed to stay calm and friendly, regardless of the mud-slinging that flew past. In this timely and often hilarious book, she talks about how we can beat back hate.” –Mike Rowland
About the book
“Look into the epidemic of hate all around us and learn how we can stop it. In The Opposite of Hate, Kohn talks to leading scientists and researchers and investigates the evolutionary and cultural roots of hate and how incivility can be a gateway to much worse.”
Becoming Supernatural: How Common People Are Doing the Uncommon, by Joe Dispenza
“The author of the New York Times bestseller You Are the Placebo, as well as Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself and Evolve Your Brain, draws on research conducted at his advanced workshops since 2012 to explore how common people are doing the uncommon to transform
themselves and their lives.”.
The Clean Money Revolution: Reinventing Power, Purpose, and Capitalism, by Joel Solomon
“Joel Solomon, impact investor and change agent, lays it on the line. The Clean Money Revolution is part memoir of an inspiring thought leader’s journey from presidential campaigner to pioneering investor, part insider’s guide to the businesses remaking the world, and part manifesto for a new vision of profit, power, and purpose.”
The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals, by Sean Covey
“The 4 Disciplines of Execution (4DX) is a simple, repeatable, and proven formula for executing your most important strategic priorities in the midst of the whirlwind. By following the 4 Disciplines—Focus on the Wildly Important; Act on Lead Measures; Keep a Compelling Scoreboard; Create a Cadence of Accountability—leaders can produce breakthrough results, even when executing the strategy requires a significant change in behavior from their teams.”.
Scale or Fail: How to Build Your Dream Team, Explode Your Growth, and Let Your Business Soar,by Allison Maslan
“In Scale or Fail, author Allison Maslan—who has successfully scaled ten companies from scratch and has guided thousands of small businesses to do the same—shares her revolutionary
SCALEit Method ® for successfully growing, replicating, and expanding your business. She also shares pivotal mindset strategies she’s used to break the fear barrier as a trapeze artist so you can move past any obstacle, take strategic Big Picture risks, and fulfill your dreams of business expansion and skyrocketing profit.”.
Tipping Point – How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, by Malcolm Gladwell
“I’ve yet to find a book that articulates ‘virality’ so well. Using case studies and historic references Malcolm breaks down how movements happen. He helps us as entrepreneurs understand the key elements needed to see our business grow and catch on with the general public. Every time I read this book I find new ideas and I’m inspired to keep analyzing how we’re setting our clients up for success for growth. And hey, if you’re finding the concepts to be too much work in the book – you can always buy a can of viral spray https://jellymarketing.com/viralspray/” –Darian Kovacs
About the book
“The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire. Just as a single sick person can start an epidemic of the flu, so too can a small but precisely targeted push cause a fashion trend, the popularity of a new product, or a drop in the crime rate.”
Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business, by Gino Wickman
“In Traction, you’ll learn the secrets of strengthening the six key components of your business. You’ll discover simple yet powerful ways to run your company that will give you and your leadership team more focus, more growth, and more enjoyment. Successful companies are applying Traction every day to run profitable, frustration-free businesses—and you can too.”
This Is Marketing: You Can’t Be Seen Until You Learn to See, by Seth Godin
“His values and principles always ring true for me and help guide the way I like to approach my business and client projects. He talks about “If you can bring someone belonging, connection, peace of mind, status or one of the other most desired emotions, you’ve done something worthwhile. The thing you sell is simply a road to achieve those emotions, and we let everyone down when we focus on the tactics, not the outcomes. Who’s it for and what’s it for are the two questions that guide all of our decisions.”
About the book
“Godin offers the core of his marketing wisdom in one compact, accessible, timeless package. This is Marketing shows you how to do work you’re proud of, whether you’re a tech startup founder, a small business owner, or part of a large corporation.”
“I also like to take my BC Business magazines with me and catch up as they tend to stack up, unread, from March to the summer. The magazine keeps me updated on what’s happening in my city and often, in the design industry.” –Angela McGregor
Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist, by Kate Raworth
“An important, critical look at why the way we think about economics makes painfully little sense—and what we should do about it.” –Mike Rowland.
About the book
“Doughnut Economics hand-picks the best emergent ideas – ranging from ecological, feminist, behavioural, and institutional economics to complexity thinking, systems dynamics, and Earth-systems science – to reveal the insights of eclectic economic rethinkers. It promises that the economic future will be fascinating, but wildly unlike the past, if we equip ourselves with the mindset needed to take it on.”
“Lifescale is a journey of self-discovery and growth. It’s about getting back into balance and remastering our destinies. Author Brian Solis knows first-hand. He struggled with distraction and all of its ill-effects. To get his life back, he developed a set of techniques, exercises, and thought experiments designed to tame the chaos, and positively and productively navigate our day-to-day lives. Instead of falling victim to the never-ending cycle of newsfeeds, Likes, addictive apps, and boredom scrolling (aka the endless scroll), we can learn to manage our time and inspire our own lives in a way that will bring meaning back—without sacrificing the benefits that our devices bring us. “.
Better Work Together: How The Power of Community Can Transform Your Business, by the Enspiral Foundation
Suggested by Kyle Robertson
About the book
“Better work together” is a treasure trove of storytelling, lessons learned, and practical tools for “creating radically collaborative, innovative and caring workplaces where people thrive.”
“The book is a beautiful, visually engaging anthology out of New Zealand — a real gift providing me much food for thought this summer!” –Kyle Robertson
Building a Story Brand, by Donald Miller
Suggested by Mhairi Petrovic
“This book really gets you thinking about how stories are told, from movies to books to the story of your business. It’s written in a concise and engaging way which makes it easy to pick up where you left – perfect for summer reading. This is a great formula for storytelling.” – Mhairi Petrovic
About the book
“Donald Miller’s StoryBrand process is a proven solution to the struggle business leaders face when talking about their businesses. This revolutionary method for connecting with customers provides listeners with the ultimate competitive advantage, revealing the secret for helping their customers understand the compelling benefits of using their products, ideas, or services”.
The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg
Suggested by Mhairi Petrovic
“There’s so much to learn from this book that can be applied both to your own habits and to those of your target audience. The writer weaves in engaging real-world experiences to make the read more entertaining.” – Mhairi Petrovic
About the book
“The Power of Habitcontains an exhilarating argument: our most basic actions are not the product of well-considered decision making, but of habits we often do not realize exist. By harnessing this new science, we can transform our lives.”
Out-Smarts worked with Hippie Snacks on an SEO Audit and SEO set up for their new WordPress website, including redirects, knowledge transfer, Search Console, Google Ads Set up, Analytics, and Google Tags.
Hippie Snacks reached out to us in the summer of 2018 when switching their website to the WordPress platform. They wanted to make sure that the site’s SEO assets were maintained as part of the move and they wanted to use Search Engine Optimization techniques to help build awareness for Hippie Snacks and their two new product lines.
About Hippie Snacks
Hippie Snacks is a healthy snack company based locally in Burnaby, BC. Certified B Corp, like its parent company Left Coast Naturals, Hippie Snacks is committed to using high quality, minimally processed and non-GMO ingredients, all sourced from sustainable farmers and processors. They offer their customers unique and delicious food creations and are doing it in an ethical and environmentally responsible way.
Hippie Snacks believes that food made right can make the world a better place on many levels, and they needed SEO to spread their message to a larger audience. In order to make this happen, we provided SEO services (META review, keyword research, update SEO foundations and framework), Google Ads (Google Ads account plan, set up, ad creation and management including negative keywords, extensions), Google Analytics (traffic reporting, conversion tracking and analysis), and consulting services. By implementing these strategies for this thriving B-Corp, we were able to produce significant results in traffic, ultimately leading to increased sales. Below is a snapshot of the results we produced for their website.
Website Traffic (sessions) went up 163% over the past year
Organic traffic went up 110% over the past year
Search engine visibility has gone up from 11 – 50%
33 keywords now rank in the top 10
In The Customer’s Words
“I really enjoy working with Out-Smarts Marketing. Since we’ve started our contract, we’ve seen amazing results leading to concrete wins for our business. Not only does Out-Smarts Marketing have great advice when it comes to our digital strategy, they are also providing us with some helpful training with our online tools (Google Ads, Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager, Search Console, etc.). I am always looking forward to our bi-monthly calls with Mhairi!”
Pauline Fleitz, Marketing Specialist at Hippie Snacks
Why We Loved this Work
One of our top priorities is to create digital marketing success for companies that are making the world a better place. From their transparency and accountability in business, to their B Corp status, to their commitment to sustainable farming and processing (to name a few!), working with Hippie Snacks has been a pleasure. We loved getting to know their company top to bottom to understand their target audience and attract new customers through higher search rankings, and to help get such a reputable company to the top of Google.
Out-Smarts partnered with DoMatcha, one of the world’s most trusted matcha brands, to develop and implement a strategic and well executed social media marketing plan to drive sales and build brand awareness. Working with directly with DoMatcha’s founder and International Director John and Anna Harrison and the DoMatcha team to learn about the company behind DoMatcha, their unique competitive strengths, and the value they offer, we were able to use social media to engage a highly targeted audience, strengthen their brand, and nurture relationships with their customers and prospects.
We have been working with the DoMatcha team on their social media since September 2017. They had goals to expand their presence online by building brand awareness, developing an online community, and to ultimately increase sales.
DoMatcha is one of the world’s leading matcha tea brands producing 100% authentic Japanese matcha, directly from Kagoshima and Uji, Kyoto where matcha originated and where the most premium quality matcha is produced. Their matcha is supported by the famous Japanese tea master Mr. Kazunori Handa, whose family’s knowledge and expertise has been handed down generation after generation for over 400 years.
Social Media Strategy and Planning
John and Anna Harrison wanted to see a stronger online presence for DoMatcha to share their matcha with a global audience, and to integrate their social media with their other digital channels such as their email marketing. To help them reach their goals, we worked with them to develop a strategy to increase brand awareness, build online relationships, and increase their website exposure. Since good planning is the foundation to any successful marketing endeavours, we took the time to work with key members of the company to ensure we knew the brand and their goals inside and out.
Social Media Community Management
We managed the DoMatcha brand across four major platforms, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. Our goals were to develop their brand awareness, foster an online community, and increase website traffic. We built brand awareness by growing the DoMatcha following on social media to increase word of mouth and authentic referrals and reviews. The result is a following that matches the demographics, interests, and behaviours of their target customers. When you have a strong connection with your audience through engagement, they are more likely to support and buy from you. That’s why we based a lot of our community management tactics on increasing engagement (likes, comments, messages, etc) on their social media platforms. Our third pillar of community management was increasing web traffic. By curating content that leads back to the DoMatcha website, we were able to increase sales.
Social Media Advertising
We focused on developing social media advertising campaigns on Facebook and Instagram that drove high volumes of traffic to their website. We ran a combination of engagement and page promotion posts and increased numbers within a modest ad budget.
Social Media Reporting and Analytics
Showing proof of our work is the best part. We prepared detailed monthly reports for the DoMatcha team to review. They also have access to view their campaign’s progress at any time. We also provided the option for monthly strategy meetings to disseminate the data and plan for more growth.
Facebook 38% increase in page likes 97% increase in reach 106% increase in page views 164% increase in post engagements Instagram 250% increase in followers 118% increase in impressions 70% increase in reach 185% increase in profile views 254% Increase in user-generated content on tagged posts and Instagram Stories Twitter 45% increase in followers 74% increase in impressions Pinterest 6% increase in followers 204% increase in daily impressions 258% increase in daily viewers Website Sales 634% increase in website sales of DoMatcha from social media traffic in 2018
In The Customer’s Words
“Out-Smarts has been an instrumental part of DoMatcha’s success. They have headed up our Social Media side of the business and really assisted us in getting our message out to the world. We would highly recommend Out-Smarts to anyone who needs digital marketing services for their business.” John Harrison – Founder – DoMatcha
Why We Loved this Work
It’s part of our mandate to work with ethical companies, and DoMatcha’s authentic brand was an honour represent on social media. Having full-service strategy, management, advertising, and analytics over the DoMatcha social media feeds meant we could really dig in and get to know the company and their target audience to grow their brand in a significant manner.