2020: Inventive ideas for customer retention in times of crisis

How has COVID-19 affected you in your personal and professional life? Lockdown, social distancing, the cancellation of public events … – you name it.  Everyone has learned their lessons the hard way: The majority of our plans had to be put on hold or changed drastically. However, as far as business life is concerned, different job positions were affected in different ways. Sales staff, for example, relies on close personal contacts with customers – but how can contacts be kept up during a crisis that prevents or reduces physical meetings to a minimum? And what about scheduled marketing activities that support the sales team and entail the get-together of sales staff and customers?

Roadshow for workers and construction managers

These questions arose in the marketing department of Zeppelin’s rental organization in Germany. In non-pandemic times, the so-called “Construction site tour” represents a popular marketing tool to meet construction managers and workers on site. Every summer, Zeppelin staff drives around Germany and Austria in a minivan packed with bags full of snacks, useful giveaways and advertising material to visit selected construction sites. While the bags are given to the workers and construction managers as a “thank-you” to strengthen customer relations and for the hard work they do every day, the sales employees can talk to them about possible demands and wishes and how Zeppelin can best support them in the fields of machine and equipment rental, temporary infrastructure and construction logistics.

“Our roadshow enables sales staff to visit numerous work sites in a comparatively short time, to create a positive atmosphere and to boost customer retention”, says Dominik Baumann, head of Zeppelin Rental’s marketing department.

A change of plans

Well, as you all know, COVID-19 put a spoke in our wheel. The “construction site tour” had to be cancelled. However, everything had already been prepared. Snacks and giveaways had been ordered, advertising materials printed. So it was time for a change of plans. “After long months of suspended customer visits, our colleagues were finally allowed to personally meet with their customers again in July – keeping the necessary distance and wearing masks when required, of course”, Dominik Baumann says. “And we didn’t want them to go empty-handed.”

So the marketing department compiled packages with drinks, snacks, flyers, sunscreen and multifunctional headbands that can also be used as mouth and nose covers. The “construction site tour” bundles were then sent out to all the sales employees. And they happily used the opportunity to get in touch with their customers, to make appointments and to hand-over the packages. After a long time with hardly any personal physical contacts, project and construction managers, buying agents and other customers reacted in a very positive way, being happy about the diversion, thankful for the attention and full of appreciation. “And that’s what marketing is all about”, Dominik Baumann says. “Bringing sales staff and customers together – even in difficult circumstances.”

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