Testing positive to a brighter outlook

The COVID-19 pandemic has no doubt affected every country around the world in ways no one could have ever imagined. It shows the extent and importance we put on globalisation and being connected to other places around the world, especially as isolated as we are in Australia. But that’s all be put on hold and consumer behaviour has changed because of it. They say it takes 28 days to turn action into a habit and now that we have been living with restrictions for about six months, these habits are here to stay.

But change is not bad. Change is good; it keeps us on our toes. And so, we’re flipping our mindset and taking a look at how Australian consumer behaviour has changed and what opportunities are emerging from it.

Consumers are supporting local businesses

Restrictions on free movement around the country began to impact the supply of products most Australian took for granted. In addition, the closure of many Australian businesses due to social and economic impact of the pandemic was felt very personally on a local level. With ‘mateship’ at the core of our cultural DNA, Australians have turned to support local and ‘Australian Made’. It is the feeling of “we’re all in this together” that has compelled consumers to actively switch their spending to prioritise buying from local businesses. This is an opportunity for like no other. Your locals want to support you, they want to buy your products and use your services. They are even willing to pay more than what they usually would, knowing they are helping another family put dinner on the table.

Everyone is online, a whole lot more

People have not been able to connect with others physically, but that hasn’t stopped anyone. The internet and social media have been intrinsic to human connection over the past six months. Previously, social media and digital technologies were seen as a distraction, however now, they are far more significant as they offer modes for human connection, channels for consumer experiences, entertainment, brand awareness and voice, customer conversions and information and news. This newfound dependence on the internet and social media is an opportunity. You know where your consumers are and with a bit of research, you’ll know what they like. You can create content to get their attention and inspire them from, literally, the palm of their hand. And what’s better, is that they can purchase from you right then and there. Make sure you’ve got your online shop up and going! While pretty much all categories of spending has seen a declined, online shopping has actually had a boost.

People are actively looking for new hobbies

Australians have hit the pause button on their normal lives. No more commuting, no more sport, no more gym sessions or dance lessons. No more weekend trips away (or even planning holidays, for a fact). This has given people time to get back to basics. There was a surge in the demand for baking ingredients, people have loved local bars’ cocktail kits, veggie garden sets and seedlings sold out and everyone has bought a puzzle. How can you adapt your product or service in a way that consumers can engage with from their home or within their local surrounds? If you are a yoga studio, start online class subscriptions. This can run adjacent to classes held in-person. All you need is a device with Zoom set up and you are good to go. What an awesome way to extend the accessibility of your studio space and gain new members. If you sell a product, maybe think about how you can turn that into more of an experience for the consumer. For example, the make-at-home cookie kits from local bakeries and cake shops have been a hit, especially with kids and families.  Now is the time to adapt, so go for it!

With all this negative, it’s hard to keep your head above water. But sometimes the best thing you can do is flip your mindset to see the glass half-full. Change is always a good, it’s challenging, but it’s good.

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Thinking differently in these crazy times

Our local business community has suffered so many blows over the past few months. But, nothing could prepare us for the current COVID-19 situation.

While you are self-isolating (and provided you aren’t already overloaded with homeschooling) here are some proactive things you can do right now to nurture your business. Your community still wants to hear from you – even if your doors are closed or your services have been temporarily shut down.

Step 1

The first step is to get your digital ducks in a row. Assets like social media accounts, websites and sales and marketing software have become vital during these times of reduced human contact. This is a fitting time to start posting more on your Facebook page or Instagram account. Or perhaps learn about Ads Manager and email platforms like MailChimp. You can then integrate your digital platforms. For example, put an Instagram feed on your website and direct your Facebook ads to a landing page. Tidying all these things will help make sure they deliver in the most effective and efficient way. There are endless resources such as webinars, YouTube videos and step by step instructions to assist with this.

Step 2

Once you have sorted the best ways for you to keep the conversation going with your community, take the time to consider your tone of voice. This can vary, but it should suit your brand and be authentic. It will likely be best received if it is calm, positive, helpful, informative or empathetic. Tasteful humour is a good one, but please be sensitive and very mindful about how others may interpret your messages. Additionally, people are already bombarded with information about the virus, so it's worth thinking about ways your voice can stand out from the crowd.

Step 3

Now that you have established lines of thoughtful communication, brainstorm ways to adapt your service delivery. Be the solution to the problems that people are experiencing. A great example is how quickly most of our cafes started offering home delivery. Another example is how local fitness trainer Rikki Lee started a Facebook group with free daily workouts. Think creatively about how best to utilise your skills. You could become a virtual consultant, providing useful information that is relevant to what you do and to your customers. Zoom chats, Facebook live, Watch parties and Google Hangouts are all relatively easy and fun ways to deliver your messages.

 

Staying in contact with your business, employees, customers and suppliers could be a wonderful way to stay focussed on your passion. Share that passion whenever possible. There is no better time to surprise and delight your customers with excellent service. Your kindness, compassion and attention to detail WILL be remembered when we all come out the other side.

We are all in this together.

From the Barefruit Team

The New Financial Year is Here!

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We’re two months into the easing of restrictions and everyone is out and about, getting back into their usual pre-COVID habits. It’s no longer feeling like such a novelty go out for a coffee with a few friends. And, the weekends are busy again. We have lots of visitors coming to enjoy the beautiful Northern Rivers. You could almost say, things feel pretty much back to normal for most of Australia.

In saying this, the situation in Victoria is a bit different. Things are certainly not back to normal with the tightening of restrictions in parts of Melbourne. These so-called 'hot zones' have reverted back to the same restrictions from the start of the pandemic in order to slow the spread of the virus. It's disheartening to hear, but we have our fingers crossed this is only a little bump in the road for affected Victorian businesses.

Considering all of this, the new financial year already here! It’s time to reflect on the financial year that was, reset focus and plan for the one ahead. This is the perfect time to adapt branding and business operations to new consumer behaviour and appeal to new markets in innovative ways.

So, let’s take a look at 4 tips for planning for the Financial Year 2020-21.

  1. What is your Point of Difference?

In order to stand out against your competitors, you first need a point of difference. Something distinct and novel that consumers recognise, remember and come to you for. Maybe this is your brand story or brand personality. Or perhaps there is something unique about your delivery of your product or service. Is your customer service different or special in some way? Whatever it is, make sure your offer to consumers includes a point of difference that entices consumers your way. And spread the word about it.

  1. Organise a Content Calendar

At the moment, your social media presence is more important than ever with consumers turning towards online communities to connect and share with others. For businesses, social media is key to building trust and transparency and for keeping your audience up to date with new information. And so, now is a great time to get your social media content organised for the next little while. Think about what messages and content you want to share, make a plan and schedule your posts into a calendar. Why? This will help keep you on track and hold you accountable to your social media marketing. Along with your social media strategy, remember to mix it up a bit with well-chosen local media outlets, like radio, community magazines etc.

  1. Set a Marketing Budget

The new financial year means it is time to think about your budget. Considering the last few months have been a bit of a roller-coaster (to say the least) for every business, your budget may very well look a bit different to last year. With everyone in re-set mode, do set aside some money to market your business – a general guideline is 5% of your turnover. It is so important right now to make sure your brand messages reach your target audience, increasing awareness and desire to purchase your service or product. And trust us, a bit of money, especially in the digital marketing space, can make a significant difference.

  1. What’s your Digital Marketing Strategy?

Your consumers are online, and the best way to reach them is to be online too (no way!). Traditional marketing and advertising in print is still great, but online marketing is so flexible and in times like this, flexibility is what you need. With no lead times or deadlines, you can change your online messaging instantly to suit any situation.

If you need some help with your FY21 planning, check out our Back to Business programs.