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Fine-tune your marketing plan

June 25, 2020 By    
Many current and prospective customers will want to conduct all business with you online. Photo: marchmeena29/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images.

Many current and prospective customers will want to conduct all business with you online. Photo: marchmeena29/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

As consumers emerge from the pandemic world in which they have lived for the past several months, many of their buying habits and expectations of doing business have changed. Here are some changes for which you can prepare.

Shopping online and through web-based apps has accelerated and become routine for many more people. Early reports for our clients show an average 18 percent increase in website traffic, and Facebook usage is up by more than 50 percent in recent months. If you were putting off updating or replacing your website, now is the time to make this investment.

Taking a professional and consistent approach to social media can also pay big dividends. Put the majority of your marketing budget into what is working for other retailers. If you don’t have the resources in-house to make a digital makeover happen, bring in a professional firm to get it done right and handle optimization long term.

Most prospective and current customers will want the ability to conduct all business with you online. Are you ready to have prospects shop for your LPG service, commit to becoming a customer, schedule the tank installation, and fill out and sign all necessary paperwork online? Can your current customers schedule maintenance and service work with your company online? Are you able to send text reminders of service appointments? You may want to consider incorporating software from a company like AssureSign to have legally verifiable signatures on all necessary customer documents.

Consumers will focus more on the stay-at-home experience and less on vacations to faraway places. This should be the biggest opportunity for propane retailers who sell, install and service appliances, and it can also be a load builder for those who just bring gas service to those appliances. Outdoor living appliances, such as gas grills, firepits and patio heaters, will be in demand. Indoor quality-of-life improvements will become more of a priority. Expect increased interest in gas fireplaces, high-end gas cooking equipment, tankless water heaters and other products that will make a staycation more enjoyable.

Are your website and back-office software prepared for customers to review products online, make a purchase, arrange payment, and schedule delivery and installation without any other contact with you? Having an online chatroom on your website can help supplement communication. All other forms of communication can remain in place (showrooms, phone or on-site sales calls) for customers who prefer more interaction, but a complete online sales, delivery and installation process should be your digital benchmark.

Customers will be reluctant to interact with your employees in person. It will be a carry-over of the social distancing precautions they had experienced. Make customers feel comfortable that you have their safety and that of your employees in mind. Make sure all of your field and office employees are fully equipped and prepared to handle personal contact with customers in a visibly safe manner. All employees should have the appropriate personal protective equipment such as gloves, masks, shoe covers and disinfectant wipes available and in use for their particular duties. Update your employee policies and training to reinforce the importance of this with your employees. A brief video on your website and Facebook page showing your employees in safe action will go a long way toward assuring consumers that you’re operating safely.

Being declared an essential business during the pandemic was important recognition for the propane industry. Now it is time to fine-tune your business model and marketing plan to take advantage of the opportunities this declaration and the COVID-19 aftermath bring.


Tom Jaenicke is vice president of propane marketing services for Warm Thoughts Communications. He can be reached at tjaenicke@warmthoughts.com or 810-252-7855. 

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