Monday February 10, 2014

10 Ways Brands Can Build During Major Weather Events- Snowpocalypse 2014

Shoveling snow in front of businessImage courtesy of the Seattle Municipal Archive

My home town has seen roughly 18 inches of snow in the last several days. I haven't checked the weather history, but many are saying it's the biggest snow event in at least the last 25 years, maybe longer. 

Schools closed, churches cancelled services, and more or less the entire community slowed to a snail's pace. Our local version of Whole Foods even had to close for a while due to power outages(God forbid!) 

So where's the opportunity for businesses in this? It depends on your orientation. If you're simply looking for ways to drive people through your doors and make sales during the storm event, this isn't for you. If you're looking for ways to deepen customer loyalty, attract new customers, rally your employees, generate authentic buzz about your brand, draw defector customers back, this is for you. Essentially, if you play to win the long game- there's opportunity in the midst of this chaos. 

10 Ideas for Brand-building During a Major Snow Event

  1. Shovel Your Snow/Clear the Ice- Of course you want to clear the sidewalk and entrance to your business, but don't neglect the parking spaces/parking lot. So few businesses do this, therefore, yours will stand out for those that do venture out to find services/shop/eat. 
  2. Free hot chocolate "Fill Station"- this is sort of a kitchy no-brainer. Keep a few airpots full of hot cocoa right in the lobby of your business. Put a sign out in front of your business, have an employee paint it. Make the hot chocolate available to employees and customers/passersby. This is your brand being "nice" and that helps forge and reinforce and emotional connection with people. 
  3. YakTraks- if you're a high price point service provider, or high end retailer- buy a stock of YakTrax to give out to valued customers. They're $19.99, but if you're a CPA, Jeweler, Attorney, Realtor, or local shoe retailer, wouldn't it pay dividends in the long run?
  4. Carry customer bags- this might seem like overkill under normal conditions, but when it's slippery and wet out, it's great to have your hands free. Have employees carry all customer's bags to their car for them. (Not offer, but automatically walk out with them) 
  5. Buy a case of windshield de-icer spray- hand them out with every purchase. "Hey, this might come in handy over the next few days, just a little gift from us."
  6. Propane Heat Trees- you know what I'm talking about- the heaters that cafe's use on their patios...Rent a couple and place them just outside your business. It creates a comfortable transition for folks leaving your business, and makes a uniquely inviting exterior for those passing by. 
  7. Free candles- often during major weather events, there's power outtages. Buy a case of simple white drip-free candles and hand them out to every customer that comes into your business. You could do the same thing with flashlights- just consider your business's customer lifetime value (CLV) and give accordingly. 
  8. Free snow-shoveling services- Organize a group of sharp college kids looking to make a few extra bucks and keep them busy shoveling for a few days. Email/Call your list of customers and let them know you have a shoveling team that you're ready to deploy on a first come, first served basis, and that it's a free gift, just a fun client perk. 
  9. Hot, fresh cookies- If you're a restaurant or cafe, consider handing every single customer that walks through the door a hot delicious gluten-free/nut free cookie, immediately as they enter. Nothing large that will kill their apetite, but just a delicious, storm treat to enjoy as they sit down. If you're a service business or retail store, consider bringing in one of those counter top convection ovens and have an employee cook up batch after batch. The smell alone will be inviting and pleasant, but the gift will be memorable too and set the tone as they interact with your business. 
  10. Micro Valet- have a uniformed employee serve as a valet. Collect the customer's car key and have the attendant go start their vehicle prior to them leaving, so it's warm when they get in and their windows are clear. The attendant should of course remain stationed outside the vehicle until the client comes out and offer to help them with their bags. 
Of course not every business can justify giving their customer YakTrax or sending out a shoveling squad. It's important to consider your average Customer Lifetime Value so you can determine a strategic acquistion/retention expense. Here's a post I wrote about CLV, including a link to a great infographic by KissMetrics: Maximizing CLV
The most important question to ask though, marketing opportunities aside- Can you afford not to do something extraordinary when chaos strikes? Today, almost any service or product can be purchased online, from a reputable vendor, at a great price. Is there anything at all that really compels customers to choose you (or stay with you), but the experiences you create for them and the way you make them feel? 



Chris Nordyke is an integrated marketer and strategy consultant. He works with owners and senior business leaders to transform and grow service companies via a unique holistic approach that drives referral business and client retention. Click here to schedule a complimentary consult with Chris.

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