Category Archives for "manufactured housing marketing"

Navigating the Reopening of Your Business During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the United States both medically and economically. Many states have begun to relax their lockdowns. It remains to be seen what impact reopening will have on the number of cases, but it’s an economic boon to the owners of small and medium-sized businesses.

That said, how do you reopen? What can you do to keep your employees and customers safe? Is it reasonable to reopen or should you wait? These are all questions that loom large for business owners.

So, let’s get into it. Here’s what you need to know to navigate the reopening of your business.

What Are the Key Considerations for Reopening? 

If your business is in a state where reopening is an option, you’ll still need to think about the logistics of reopening before you decide to move ahead. Here are the primary considerations:

  • Your state’s guidelines for reopening
  • The nature of your business
  • The safety of your employees
  • The safety of your customers

State guidelines for reopening can vary widely based on a variety of factors. You should check to make sure you understand your legal requirements. For example, you may need to put social distancing markers in place or install plexiglass shields.

The nature of your business plays a role as well. If you can safely maintain social distancing between employees and customers, it will be easier to reopen than it would be if your employees will be in direct contact with customers.

Of course, the safety of everybody involved must be paramount.

Prepare Your Office for Reopening

Once you’ve decided to reopen, it may be helpful to create a checklist. You can use it to work through your state’s requirements and any additional precautions you’ve decided to take. Here’s a basic checklist from the US Chamber of Commerce:

  • Make a plan that incorporates recommendations from local, state, and federal officials. You can find the CDC guidelines for businesses here, and their cleaning and sanitization protocols here.
  • Buy supplies and make any required preparations. These may include adding social distancing markers on floors, installing plexiglass barriers to protect employees, and other measures.
  • Completely clean and disinfect all areas of your business.
  • Create a schedule for maintenance of cleanliness. Regularly touched surfaces will need to be cleaned and disinfected at least once a day.

Remember that it’s your responsibility as a business owner to create a safe space for everybody who comes through your doors.

Prepare Your Employees for Reopening 

The health and safety of your employees must be a priority when you reopen. Your communication with them must be clear and compassionate. Here’s what you’ll need to do.

  1. Communicate with employees your intention to reopen.
  2. Identify essential employees and positions.
  3. If you have laid off employees and want to rehire them, get in touch, and give them the option of coming back.
  4. Understand that not all employees may want to come back or be able to come back. For example, employees who have underlying conditions that make them vulnerable to COVID-19 or who share living space with a high-risk person may not be able to work safely.
  5. Create a sick policy that requires employees to stay home if they are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19 or have had direct contact with an infected person.
  6. Let employees know if their job requirements have changed. For example, have your hours changed? Will they be required to take on cleaning responsibilities that differ from what they did before you closed?
  7. Put an emergency communication system in place, so you can let employees know if they have been exposed to COVID-19 and what they should do if they experience symptoms.

The most important thing is clear and ongoing communication. It’s the best way to ensure that employees feel safe coming back to work.

Create Customer Guidelines

Once you have addressed the needs of your employees, the next step is thinking about your customers or clients. What do you need to do to keep them safe as you reopen? Here are some pointers.

  1. Decide which safety precautions are necessary for customers. These may include:
    1. Limiting occupancy
    1. Requiring customers to wear masks
    1. Adding hand sanitization stations near your entrance
    1. Marking social distancing guidelines on the floor – for example, making store lanes one-way and putting 6-foot guidelines near cash registers
  2. Use your email list or social media pages to communicate your new customer guidelines with your followers.
  3. Put procedures in place to enforce guidelines. For example, you may need to place an employee near the door to check for masks, install an occupancy tracker, or monitor customers while they are in your store.
  4. Provide employees with guidance to handle complaints or refusal to adhere to guidelines. Unfortunately, it’s likely that some of your customers will refuse to do what you ask and it’s important to support your employees and give them the tools they need to cope.

This is one situation where “the customer is always right” needs to take a back seat to your employees’ safety.

Monitor the Situation

Finally, you’ll need to monitor the situation as you reopen. It may be that some of the guidelines you put in place need to be refined or adapted to the reality of doing business.

If you can’t reopen and have not yet received government assistance in the form of a PPP loan, remember that you can still do so. The application is on the SBA website, here, or you can apply through your bank or credit union.

You should also be aware that on June 3, 2020, Congress passed a PPP reform bill that allows business more time and leeway in how they spend PPP money. You can find the details here.

Reopening your business requires careful planning and attention to details. Provided you adhere to the appropriate guidelines and prioritize the safety of your employees and customers, you will be able to navigate the process successfully.

Your Next 30 Days In Marketing…

Marketing your manufactured home community in a time of economic crisis is no joke. But you already know that.

Let’s face it: it’s difficult, at best, to know how to handle your marketing when unemployment numbers are high, spending is low, and uncertainty is everywhere you look.

And yet, for all that, marketing is a must if you want your business to stay afloat.

For your business to survive, it’s a must to come up with a marketing plan that’s:

  • Practical
  • Affordable
  • Achievable
  • Effective

If you can’t do that, then you may find yourself struggling.

The good news is that we’ve done some of the work for you. Here’s your 30-day marketing plan to reopen your business.

Week 1 – Preparing to Reopen

Reopening your business should be guided by recommendations from the CDC and local officials. You may have specific guidelines to follow and safety measures to implement. You should put those in place first before you do anything else.

Once you’ve selected a reopening date, here’s what you should do in the week before you announce your reopening.

  1. Review your competitors’ websites to see how they’re handling reopening – and don’t be afraid to use their ideas in your own marketing!
  2. Prepare a written reopening policy and distribute it to employees.
  3. Update your website with a statement about COVID-19 if you have not already done so. Make sure to include details about the steps you’ll be taking to make your business space safe for employees and customers.
  4. Highlight any changes to your business, including changes in your hours of operation, occupancy limits, and delivery service, to make it easy for visitors to learn what’s new.
  5. Craft a public announcement about your reopening. Highlight the most important details about your reopening policy and include a link to your full statement.
  6. Create custom graphics to go with your written announcement.
  7. Post your announcement on social media and email it to your list.
  8. If you can, spend a little money to boost your announcement post to make sure your target audience sees it.
  9. If your business hours have changed, make sure to update your listings on Google and crowd review sites such as Yelp, so that people who are looking for businesses like yours will have up-to-date information.

Assuming it’s legal to reopen in your area, you may still have some work to do to make sure that your customers trust you to prioritize their safety. Bottom line: know who your customers are and do what you need to do to make them feel confident they can trust you.

These steps will help you reopen safely while communicating the most important information about reopening with the public.

Week 2 – Reopening 

When you reopen, you’ll need to take some steps to get people to come into your manufactured home community. Here are some of the things you should consider during week two of your plan.

  1. Add some signs and notices outside of your store to let passers-by know that your business is open. This is the kind of low-key and inexpensive marketing that can make a big difference in your foot traffic.
  2. If necessary, include written guidelines and signs explaining the terms of your reopening. These may include:
    1. Occupancy limitations
    2. Customer requirements (wearing masks, maintaining social distancing)
    3. Employee requirements (not working while sick)
  3. Devise a marketing campaign that will incentivize your customers to visit your community.

Here are some examples of the type of campaign you might consider:

  • A reopening sale with discounted prices.
  • Free application.
  • A reopening event with prizes and games.

The option you choose should be designed to appeal to your customer base. By offering clear value and addressing their needs, you’ll be more likely to have a successful reopening.

Week 3 – Campaigning

Once you have had a successful reopening, it’s time to devise an ongoing marketing campaign to help you bring people to your community.

Marketing during a pandemic must address ongoing concerns about health and safety. You may want to create social media posts and ads to let customers know about:

  • Contactless viewing of homes and paperwork processes
  • Mailing lists and text notifications
  • Online payment options

During this time, you should also think about putting some money into a video message thanking people that have visited your community. Remember, video marketing doesn’t need to be expensive. Even a simple Facebook Live video or a video you shoot on your phone can help you connect with customers.

Week 4 – Expanding Your Base 

As you move into the last week of your 30-day plan, it’s time to think about what you’ll do for the next 30 days. Here are some of the things you should prioritize.

  1. Ramp up your social media presence. Even after you reopen, the chances are good that your customers (and potential customers) will be spending more time on social media than usual. You can build trust and brand recognition with them by creating and sticking to a social media posting schedule.
  2. Share relevant information about your manufactured home community as it relates to the pandemic. You may discover that you need to change certain elements of your plans (for example, altering hours or adding new precautions) as you see your plans put into action. Everything should be clearly communicated to your customers.
  3. Solicit opinions. As you get back to business, it’s likely that your customers will have thoughts, ideas, and requests about how you’re operating and what you could do better. You may want to consider creating a customer survey and posting it on social media or emailing it to your list. This is a good way to connect with customers and let them know you care about their opinions.

The key to a successful reopening is communication at every level. Your 30-day marketing plan should make your customers aware of how your business has and will continue to address concerns related to the pandemic.

Local Marketing Trends That Are Driving Traffic

Marketing trends change all the time. And, if you’re a local business owner, it can be hard to keep up. Which trends should you follow? Are there any that aren’t worthwhile?

In marketing, you’ve got to pick and choose. Very few people have an unlimited budget that allows them to jump on every trend.

But that doesn’t mean you can ignore trends completely. The trick is to pursue the ones that have the greatest chance of earning money and attracting new customers – and disregarding the rest.

So, let’s cut through the non-essentials and get to the important stuff. Here are the trends you simply can’t afford to ignore.

Online Reviews  

You can’t go anywhere without reading about why online reviews are important – but a surprising number of businesses still aren’t prioritizing them. In other words, this isn’t a new trend, but it’s an essential one.

The numbers don’t lie. A recent survey showed that 86% of all consumers read online reviews before making a purchase, and fully half of consumers in the coveted 18-34 group say they always read reviews.

The solution? Claim your listings on Google My Business (more on that later) and crowd review sites such as Yelp and Angie’s List. Set up a system for responding to reviews, both positive and negative, and encourage your existing customers to review your business.

Mobile Payments

Mobile payments are convenient and – when used properly – they can protect consumers’ financial information. Research shows that the mobile payment trend has been steadily rising over the past 5 years and is expected to top one trillion dollars in 2019.

Some of the best and most reliable mobile payment apps include:

  • PayPal
  • Venmo
  • Zelle
  • Square Cash
  • Google Wallet

If you’re not sure what your customers prefer, ask them! You can pose a question on social media or ask people when they come to your store. Offering mobile payments provides peace of mind to your customers and can help you attract new customers who like to support businesses that support mobile payments.

Chatbots  

When you hear the word “chatbots” are you thinking science fiction or reality? If you chose the first option, it’s time to pull your head out of the sand and step into the 21st century – because chatbots are here to stay.

The truth is that 1.4 billion people interact with chatbots every day. Not only that, adding live chat to your website can increase conversions by 20% and send your ROI skyrocketing by as much as 305%.

Programming chatbots can be complicated but it’s a worthwhile investment. You can start small by programming a chatbot to handle customer payment inquiries and other routine tasks. The trend is toward full virtual assistants, so keep that in mind as you move forward.

Interactive Video Content

Interactive videos are another trend that might sound like sci fi. The trend toward interactive videos in marketing is a huge one, though. Let’s look at the numbers:

  • The click-through rate for interactive video is 8 times higher than for regular video
  • 360-degree video has a 48% higher completion rate than regular video
  • Likewise, the ROI on interactive video is 14% higher than with regular video

Major brands such as Johnny Walker, Samsung, and Porsche are using interactive video to connect with their customers. The benefits are that interactive video allows your audience to immerse themselves in a story and choose what they see and how they see it.

Google My Business

Google My Business is one of the best ways to increase the visibility of your local business online. If you haven’t already claimed and optimized your listing, then the chances are good that you’re losing business to your competitors as a result.

You can click here to claim your listing. Once you’ve done that, it’s a must to complete your listing and optimize it for local searches. Here are some pointers:

  • Enter all information that Google requests, including your full business name, address, phone number, URL of your website, hours, prices, and so on.
  • Upload pictures of the inside and outside of your business and any products that you sell.
  • Include your company logo, slogan, and other marketing information.
  • Include your most important local keywords in your business description and listing.
  • Update your followers on important events and announcements by creating Google My Business posts.
  • Encourage customers to leave reviews.

It’s also important to monitor your Google My Business listing since it’s possible for customers to change information on your listing. You’ll need to make sure that your hours and other information are correct.

Facebook Recommendations Insert:

Facebook is still the most widely-used social media site with more than 2 billion active monthly users. It’s also a place where your followers can recommend businesses (including yours!) to their friends and social media connections.

Facebook is continuously tweaking their options for local businesses. As of 2019, Facebook Recommendations show up at the top of your business page. You’ll see an average rating plus the number of people who recommend your business.

Anybody who clicks on your rating will have the opportunity to answer a simple question:

Do you recommend Business Name?

They’ll answer yes or no and then they can offer to share their specific thoughts with you.

You can use Facebook Recommendations to encourage your customers to leave reviews. The responses you receive can help you attract new customers or offer you opportunities to improve your products and services.

Location-Targeted Mobile Ads

It’s no secret that GPS technology has become commonplace. What you may not know is that you can use its sister, beacon technology, to engage with your customers and provide them with location-specific ads and offers.

To do it, you’ll need to:

  • Create a mobile app and encourage your customers to download it
  • Use the app to track their locations
  • Use their locations to send push notifications with offers, coupons, and promotions

For example, you might set up multiple beacons in your store. Then, when a customer’s browsing, you can use the app to send them notifications offering special deals on the products they’re looking at.

Another option is to ping your customers when they’re near your business and entice them to come in instead of passing by.

Local marketing changes on a near-daily basis. The trends we’ve listed here are ones that are unlikely to go anywhere – and using them properly can help you to attract new customers without overspending on marketing.

4 Ways to Get Visitors Back to Your Website

Attracting a visitor to your website once is good. It means that your marketing is strong enough – or your Google rank is high enough – that you stood out from the competition and snagged some traffic

So what? If you know anything at all about marketing, you know that it’s rare for a first-time visitor to a website to buy anything or even fill out a subscription form. It’s what they do on their NEXT visit – and the one after that – that will determine whether you’ve gained a new customer. Makes sense, but it never ceases to amaze me how many businesses don’t focus on repeat traffic. But, that’s about to change. Here are 5 foolproof ways to get those first time visitors BACK to your website so you can make some money.

#1: Get Them to Opt In to Your Mailing List

I know, I just said it was asking a lot to get a first-time visitor to your site to subscribe to your mailing list. But I didn’t say it was impossible! The key, of course, is to give them a compelling reason to subscribe. Here are some ways you can do that:

1. Put your opt-in form above the fold. That way, they won’t need to scroll down to see it – and they’ll know what they’ll be getting if they decide to subscribe. If people aren’t coming back to your website, it could be because they didn’t enjoy their experience the first time they visited. That means that prioritizing usability is one of the best ways to encourage repeat visits.

2.Simplify your form. I get that it’s tempting to ask a new subscriber for extra information – but all you really need is their email address and maybe a first name if you want to personalize your emails. Anything else – whether it’s their phone number, mailing address, URL, or shoe size – is extra. You should think long and hard about adding fields to your form.

3. Incentivize the opt-in. A compelling and useful lead magnet can do a lot to get someone to fill out that form.

4.Write a killer headline and call to action. Instead of just “Subscribe to our newsletter,” try “Get new marketing tips every day” as a headline. And make the CTA just as exciting. Once a potential customer’s on your mailing list, you can email them with reasons to come back to your website. Simple, right?

#2: Prioritize the User Experience 

If people aren’t coming back to your website, it could be because they didn’t enjoy their experience the first time they visited. That means that prioritizing usability is one of the best ways to encourage repeat visits. Some of the things to think about when it comes to usability are:

» Your site’s loading time
» Mobile responsiveness
» Clear and easy-to-use menus
» Text that’s broken up with white space, images, and formatting (sub headers, bullet points, numbers, etc.)
» Working internal and external links that make it easy to find related content.

If it’s been a while since you’ve evaluated the usability of your site, now’s a good time to do it to make sure that you’re not frustrating visitors and discouraging them from returning to your site in the future.

#3: Make the Content on Your Site Relevant to Your Target Audience

Are people finding what they expect to find on your site? If a customer comes to you because they’re searching for art supplies, for example, think about what you can offer them that will add value to the products you sell. Can you provide a video tutorial on painting technique? A link to the website of an artist who uses that product? The idea is to make sure that the content on your site – whatever it is – is directly relevant to the people you most want to attract. If you’re selling Human Resources software, have blog posts about topics that are relevant to HR professionals.

#4: Offer Solutions to Common Problems

The final thing you can do is to make the content on your website solution-oriented. Most people who type a keyword into Google do so because they’re looking for answers. That means that if you want them to bookmark your site, you need to provide them with what they need.

Focusing on solutions can also help you improve your site’s rank for keywords in voice search. Given the increase in the use of “Ok Google” as well as virtual assistants like Siri, Alexa, and Cortana, it makes sense to think about the questions that searchers are likely to ask when looking for sites like yours. Then, you can optimize your useful content for those questions.

Your solutions may come in any format you choose. You might create a blog post with a response to one question or produce a video or even a short webinar for another. The key is to focus on the visitor’s needs instead of promoting your company or brand. There’ll be time enough for that later.

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