Welcome to 2020. The marketplace is crowded. Half of our favorite businesses have closed. Shoppers trudge into stores only when necessary, masks on, six feet apart. Essential employees share half smiles to build camaraderie. Even the grapes are brownish and the cucumbers are soft as they protest having to look cheerful under the bright grocery store lights. We’re really only there for dog food, fresh fruit, and alcohol. The rest, we’ll end up ordering from DoorDash.
With no end in sight, COVID has thrown us all for a loop. When you make eye contact with another shopper, your gazes silently say, “Yes, we’re wearing our pajamas, but we’ll never speak of this in polite company.” You quicken your shuffle, grab your bottle of chardonnay and subtly nod good-bye to your kid’s math teacher.
Consumers Need You Right Now
Your customers are struggling. We’re all struggling. You may not be able to captivate everyone and entice them to spend money during this tough time (many businesses can’t). Consumers are buckling down and spending money on what’s necessary. However, everyone can appreciate businesses that understand their plight and reach out to them with whatever they can offer as relief or distraction from the chaos that’s been going on. Here’s what you can do:
- Let shoppers know you understand what they’re going through.
- Deliver attention-grabbing messages—and create content that doesn’t always ask them to buy. Instead, give your followers value-driven content filled with tips, suggestions, and hints to help them through difficult or quieter times.
- Post attention-grabbing content that will add value to what they need for their business in the here-and-now.
- Share advice that can help them stay connected with customers, especially when we all feel disconnected. What are YOU doing? Share that with your customers so they can be successful, too!
- Running out of ideas? Share something interesting. What’s going on in the market that your customers will be interested in? Is there something you can share that will give them a heads-up and point them in the right direction for success?
- Get funny. Times are tough…and coronavirus is serious. It’s ok to be funny; just be sure to be tasteful, too.
- Run across something that might be useful or meaningful to your clients? Be sure to share that with them to let them know you have their best interests at heart.
A micro-moment delivers a message that inspires consumers to engage with a brand. While short in duration, micro-moments are the instant when consumers recognize a brand, connect with its message, and decide whether or not to take action. Consumers are overwhelmed; micro-moments are snapshots that quickly get to the heart of what you want to share with them so your message doesn’t get lost.
Modern shoppers want quick answers and immediate gratification, especially with the 24/7 convenience of mobile technology. Consumers make quick decisions, and in turn, they are looking for businesses that do the same, as well as respond quickly. Businesses that can provide in-the-moment consumer interactions have an edge with today’s need-it-now shoppers.
How Your Business Can Use Micro-Moments
Most of your customers have done online searches, either for inspo or specific product ideas, before they arrive. This means they already know you have what they need—they just need you to be able to deliver in the customer service realm. Now, all you need to do is create micro-moments that bolster the relationship you’re already building.
Connect with consumers on social media and reach out with quick, relevant posts that will keep them interested in what you have to offer. Here are some examples of micro-moments you can implement quickly, use again and again, and leverage to gain feedback in an organic, natural way:
- Create surveys. Simple surveys will provide insight about shopper preferences. Create frequent surveys to keep a steady pulse on consumer sentiment.
- 1-Q-Interview. This works well if you have a brick-and-mortar store, but even if you don’t, try tossing out a single question for feedback! It’s requires low time commitment, and it shows you want to know what they thought of their experience. It’s a great micro-moment opportunity that will give you invaluable insights.
- How-To Video. Video is the way to go! With micro-moments, you deliver in-the-moment value to your customers. Create videos with information-rich content that will help them improve their brand presence and boost sales.
- “Near Me” Search. Looking for a restaurant near you that serves sushi? That’s a micro-moment, and you’ll notice that specific brands have cornered the market on capturing consumer attention. Help your customers get recognized online and find shoppers that are closest to them so they can connect easily.
Those are just a few ideas. The point is to be there for consumers WHEN and WHERE they are looking for you. It may be at the moment of purchase, or it may be well before they are ready to purchase. When you are more supportive—instead of all “Hey, buy my stuff,”—you’ll end up with more long-term customers who truly trust you and want to recommend you to the people they know.
I know. You’re busy. I’m busy. We’re all busy. And online stuff takes time. BUT now, more than ever—when people are stuck at home pretending to homeschool their kids and 2-minute-showering before they put on the same sweatpants they had on yesterday—it’s important for you to really, truly connect with your customers. What are they missing? What do they need from you? If you can give them a laugh or a fun rabbit hole to chase online, you’ll end up being a hero.
Long story short? This is the perfect time to leverage your online platforms to get to know your consumers. Reach out. Create relationships. Build trust. And get ready for the moment when shoppers are ready to crowd into brick & mortar stores again, because when that moment comes, I’m thinking it will look a lot like a scene from The Living Dead, with a giant human hoard threatening to burst through your front doors…all of them needing an extra-hot latte, a solid clearance rack, and a shopping cart to carry all the wares they’ve been unable to purchase for the past year.
Brace yourselves, business owners. But also, be proactive and woo that hoard!
Timing Is Important
Your consumers may seem tough. Heck, they ARE tough. We have to be to get through all this COVID-19 stuff, right? But let’s get real. There are a LOT of UNKNOWNS, and all of us want this craziness to be over.
If you’re anything like me, you want to know what’s going on, what to expect, and how to prepare for it. (Which is really weird for a fly-by-the-seat creative person, but nobody ever accused us of being normal.)
Consumers actively seek micro-moments—quick, easily-accessible pieces of reliable information and inspiration—that will guide them through their shopper journeys. A solid online presence is key so you can anticipate consumer needs—and so that you’ll be the go-to resource for information and inspiration.
Discovering the Opportunities
Micro-moment opportunities abound as consumers continue to seek out brands they can trust. When you take the time to discover who your shoppers are, you’ll be better able to shape decisions by offering exactly what they’re looking for—in the moments they are looking. Consider the following as you formulate your strategy to deliver memorable micro-moments for consumers:
- Offer Value. Give consumers something they need. When you give them what they need, they can justify the purchase. Position yourself as a guide who will help shoppers find their brand through educated purchasing decisions.
- Move Quickly. Speed is the name of the game when it comes to micro-moments. When something big is happening, don’t sit on it. Be the first one on the scene—and don’t stop talking about it until the hype is over.
- Offer Kickass Solutions. Think ahead! Be nimble, be quick…look ahead and know what’s coming up. Keep customers updated if things are going to cause ripple effects for their business—and deliver positive solutions that can help them with their immediate needs.
- Make it Easy. Help your clients streamline and simplify shopper solutions. Today’s shoppers are looking for quick and simple experiences that take them from Step 1 to Finished in the shortest amount of time possible. Help customers focus on speed and simplicty to improve the customer experience. Every time you can do this adds up to a micro-moment that shoppers will remember.
We all know consumers are moving fast and spending less time in stores than before—especially with COVID-19 hanging around. For businesses, this means getting proactive AND innovative in the ways they reach out and connect.
Even if they’re remote, shoppers still want immediacy, efficiency, and top-notch customer service. For your business, this means finding the best and most innovative ways to communicate, build trust, and keep shoppers apprised of new opportunities. You need to provide MORE VALUE than anywhere else your customers could shop.
Take advantage of micro-moments to engage shoppers and guide their activity toward the products and services that will enhance their lives and propel your business toward success. You have the experience. You have the ideas. And you have the innovation.
Now, you just have to reach out to your customers and let them know YOU are the business that can sustain them—through a pandemic AND after COVID-19 when things settle and everything kicks back into high gear.