The current crisis has forced the SME landscape to adapt at lightning speed. How can we use consumer behaviour trends to pivot our marketing? Sophie Metcalfe takes a look at the top trends right now.

Many small businesses have had to make huge decisions recently, from furloughing their best staff to quick investments in remote working. Aside from the incredible technology allowing us to stay connected and keep working, consumer behaviour has also rapidly adapted.

So, what can Google trends from March and April tell us about what customers want right now? Here are three trends I think small businesses can use to their advantage.

Discounts and promo codes

Google trends show us that there has been a rise in people searching for ‘discount codes’ and ‘promo codes.’ The slight incline began in the middle of march and has continued throughout April.

It suggests people are not only scouring the internet for their favourite brands while the shops are closed, but they are also hoping to bag a deal while they’re at it.

HINT: Consider promotional campaigns to help your customers out

In my experience, small businesses tend to shy away from offering big promotions, with a preconceived notion that they risk affecting bottom lines.

Yet, there is an opportunity right now to be a little more generous to your target buyers. Think about the problems your customers are facing – how can you help them save a few quid? It could just raise their estimation of your business and ultimately improve loyalty in the long run.

It doesn’t have to be huge. But what can you offer that’s just a little more than usual? Use email marketing and social media to tell your audience that you’ve got their back with a one-off discount code – or even a free gift to show you care.

Education and skills learning

Understandably, searches for online learning and home schooling have spiked. But it’s the rise in searches for ‘tutorials’ that may interest small businesses. There has been a distinct and continual rise in people looking for help with at-home skills such as hairdressing, decorating, cooking and gardening.

HINT: Offer a little expertise for free

Whatever your business, no matter what you sell, you are the go-to expert in your field. There are countless ways to offer free tips and advice to your customers in lockdown.

Use your website, social media, YouTube, email database and any other platform at your disposal to teach quick tutorials, cheats or quick fixes to your customers’ problems. Video, blogs, pictorial guides, step-by-step instructions, recipes, how-to guides… whatever guise, you have the tools to be able to offer up a little guidance while we’re apart.

Why? Your customers need you now more than ever.

Consider an exclusive how-to guide for your VIP customers. Let them know you are there for them (and you’ll still be there when things go back to some sort of normality!).

Click an image below to see screenshots from Google Trends:

Inspiration, health and wellbeing

More people are searching for ways to stay happy and healthy in these unprecedented times. Google trends show that ‘online workouts’ has spiked dramatically, along with a distinct rise in searches for topics such as meditation, yoga and motivational inspiration.

It could be that the slower way of life is allowing people to make a little more time for self-care, or, as recent marketing from Samaritans suggests, it could be that many are suffering with a decline in mental health.

HINT: How can you help and inspire your customers?

Remember you are an inspiration. You run a business and you have your own experiences and knowledge. Pivoting to offer up support and advice to your customers, connections, colleagues and suppliers can be a poignant way of reaching out and staying connected.

By opening up your virtual door to your audience who may seek advice on staying motivated – or building a business – will be invaluable.

If you can deliver a little motivation, how amazing would that look? We’re all needing a little more business inspiration right now, so consider offering your personal business tips. How did you get to where you are now and what advice can you give to others? In what ways are you dealing with the current situation?

Other Google trends for small businesses to note:

  • More people are searching for local food and drink suppliers and home deliveries.
  • People are Googling the criteria around ‘Government assistance.’ Have you sussed it all out? Can you help another business owner in need?
  • Business advice searches have increased.
  • DIY, home improvement and appliance upgrades searches are through the roof.
  • Entertainment and gadgets the same.
  • Financial advice is desperately needed by many.
  • Marital law is sadly spiking, too.

 Interested in seeing what’s trending? Check out Google Trends

For any help and guidance on the above topics, feel free to speak to Simon or Sophie at The Soapy Group. We’re here to help small businesses in any way we can during this crisis. Email or call 01759 283102.