(and what to do about your trade shows and in-person events)

It’s here. We’re already going virtual in our community. 17 fast tips to get your business online and maximize connection with your customers at this challenging time.

Online retailers:

You’ll weather this much easier!  But you can also maximize people staying home by ramping up your social efforts. Building community and connectedness online in groups, videos and online courses is the way to both serve your customer and your community.

  • Host virtual events
  • Conduct behind the scenes video tours.
  • Create-alongs: sew alongs, craft alongs, knit alongs are all popular in the sewing and craft industry and bring people together virtually
  • Send more frequent emails
  • Post more to Instagram and Facebook stories, and definitely consider longer-form video posts to YouTube for courses or mini workshops
  • Many in the sewing and craft industry are older customers, so reassuring them they can still stay in and be a part of your community is a wonderful way to help them connect with others while they are isolated

Brick and Click retailers:

  • Start going virtual! Right now!
  • Conduct behind the scenes video tours of new product unboxing and arrival
  • Package up product ‘kits’ – the supplies needed to do something or have something. Examples include craft kits, training modules, or even wardrobe kits for boutiques. This is a great stopgap if you do not have online e-commerce set up already.
  • Host kits with a craft along or sew along (see above) or event-along.
  • Local stores could even offer local delivery to customers if they cannot leave their homes. Drop packages ordered onto porches of your customers. Or you can have a drive-up pickup service!
  • If you haven’t started work on your e-commerce website, NOW is the time! Let’s chat. We can help you!
  • If you’re hosting an event night, take this online (but NOT on Facebook if it’s a paid event), using other tools like Zoom, Go to Meeting or Google Hangouts. These links can be shared with your paid audience and hosted online with links that you share only with paid customers, not on your usual social channels

Coaches & consultants:

Health & wellness coaches and consultants are well-positioned to weather this storm.

  • Bring your courses and programs for your clients online, and help them facilitate them when they cannot host them in person. 
  • Host virtual conference or training sessions
  • Give teachers materials to teach online instead of in person
  • Host a virtual class for a client if they cannot teach it themselves due to technology concerns

Associations:

This one is the hardest. Associations going to likely have to cancel your spring events. BUT, you should be able to either secure alternative dates in the summer (a slower time) or you might even be able to go virtual! In any case, communicate NOW to your audience and give them options. If you’re moving your conference, you might consider offering a few distance learning options at your usual conference times, to ameliorate the impact of moving the dates. Work with your speakers – they are good assets in this time as they can amplify your message.

Virtual conferences in a hurry:

Use an online meeting tool like Go to Meeting or Zoom webinar. We recommend Zoom Webinar (not just Zoom itself, you want the pricier, but more effective webinar). Your organization can facilitate Zoom webinar to deliver content from your speaker to your audience. For practical purposes, it’s possible to set up a protected member space (on your existing website) to deliver the links, slide decks and content for all of your virtual conference sessions. You could also have video recordings of each speaker session uploaded (not in real time) to serve the same goals.

Set up a discussion group – the fastest discussion group setup would be via Facebook Groups with Units, but you can also deploy discussion units if you’re using tools like MemberPress and EventEspresso on WordPress by adding on discussion platforms. Contact us if you need help setting these up correctly for April and May conferences (by June, this may ebb or be over according to experts.)

For all of us:

Social media has the power to both freak us out and calm us down. And remember, if people aren’t leaving their houses, they have a lot more time to engage with you online! Maximize this by spending as much time online in video as possible during this time. Create community over commerce.