Now unfortunately we’re on the map for all the wrong reasons, with there being a nerve agent called Novichok being used on a local ex-Russian spy, and the aftermath that has followed.
There are a handful of direct victims of this cowardly attack, and we wouldn’t wish that on anyone, and there are thousands of other affected to a lesser degree including the local businesses.
Salisbury’s footfall has reduced significantly which has caused severe financial damage to local businesses, specifically those based near to the contaminated sites or those reliant on tourism and public footfall. It doesn’t directly affect all industries or those out of the city limits, but of course there is a knock-on effect.
So, how does this all relate to marketing?
Well, first of all after the initial attack happy customers helped the small businesses affected most, by starting campaigns promoting their good and services, and encouraging others to visit them. These campaigns were completely selfless and spontaneous, and prove without a doubt the importance of a good relationship with your customers. This surely should be the staple for any business marketing!
There have also been lots of groups set up, especially among the city centre businesses, who have been working together sharing their ideas and woes, and helping each other out. Not only that, but the public have been getting involved with great ideas and campaigns on Change.org, all trying to improve the city as a whole. It’s truly inspirational. Relating this to normal business; how many people reading this do networking of some sort, or have a list of contacts and customers that have become friends, I know I do. I’ve offered my time and services to these friends (clients) free of charge and it has never gone unappreciated. In return they recommend Webbed Feet whenever they can. What goes around comes around.
Times have been dire for some, so rather than sulking and waiting for things to resolve themselves business are trying new marketing strategies, and taking advantage of any opportunity they can. The World Cup being one of them, but special offers, joint ventures, social media campaigns, sporting events, the Royal wedding, free parking, and artistic hanging umbrellas - literally anything that can help put Salisbury on the map or increase footfall to the city. It’s working; Salisbury is keeping its head above the water. Again relating this to other businesses, if you are doing something and not getting the results you want, change it. What worked last year may not work next, and just because something has been in place for the last couple of decades, doesn’t mean it’s the best solution now. There’s a lot of marketing channels available, both online and offline, maybe it’s time to consider something different. If your phone isn’t ringing or people aren’t buying your services then act now and do something about it when you can, don’t wait for the tides to turn, which may never happen.
One disadvantage that the local shops have is that they usually require footfall in Salisbury itself, they are limited by their physical location. For those companies who offer a service it is perhaps easier as they can work further afield circumventing the issue. This concept has been seen in Salisbury recently with one burger restaurant, for example, taking the initiative and starting home deliveries via a smart phone app. This isn’t going national by any means, but a superb idea that they have adopted to increase trade. Again this is true with most companies, in that goods can be sold nationally either via an online shop or eBay and Amazon, and there are no boundaries with many services. Why stay local when the national market is bigger?
Salisbury as a whole has been very unlucky in that this awful incident was forced upon us without warning, when the economy isn’t at its greatest, and just as Salisbury picked itself up it happened again. Then again, this is life I suppose; there is never a good time for some things to happen. Salisbury was well and truly thrown in at the deep end, and had to react quickly. Usually down turns in trade are slower, and when the phone starts to go quiet, and inboxes remain empty, then this is the time to up your game. Marketing takes time, and as most people in Salisbury will tell you, trying to do it overnight is hard, very hard. So you may not have the time to do marketing when you’re flat out and the money is rolling in, but don’t want to wait until you’re struggling and have lost the inclination.
So will any good come of this? For some individuals and their families, absolutely not, this has been a tragedy at all levels. However for Salisbury’s economy, in the long term, then yes, I believe so. Not only is Salisbury’s community much tighter than it has been, but people are trying more marketing techniques than ever before, and are finding out what works for them. Businesses are keeping afloat despite the obvious hurdles, and once trade increases all of the marketing knowledge and foundations will be in place ready to flourish. I know around a decade ago when the recession hit we struggled, but the changes to our marketing and business plan that we put in place meant that we expanded rapidly once the economy improved.
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