Boutique agony aunt: your business problems solved

Sarah Connelly, lingerie stylist and former boutique owner, answers your retail dilemmas

Q: How can I make the most of social media to engage with my customers while many aren’t buying non-essential items?

A: Food, shelter and safety are the staples of our human existence. And as the coronavirus pandemic swept the globe so did stories of stockpiling loo rolls, hand-sanitiser and canned goods.

Any business not in a position to immediately re-direct their offering might have taken that as red the end of the road was in sight. But where there’s crisis there’s opportunity as we’ve seen with those who’ve diverted operations to support frontline services in the most inventive of ways. Clothing factories making face masks and breweries bottling hand-sanitiser.

Even if your product  isn’t typically essential, consider what it is you’re actually selling and capitalise on social media to highlight all the ways of how you can solve the new challenges your customers face.

Facebook, Instagram and YouTube are all excellent platforms for sharing your expertise and showcasing how your product provides tangible solutions in imaginative new ways.

Find out which platform your customers spend most time on and experiment with different posts (e.g. pictures, videos, gifs, memes, lives etc) to gauge what your audience responds to best.

We all still want inspiration, opportunity and some sense of normality so thoughtful content that speaks to how your customers are feeling (and want to feel), and being helpful, entertaining and valuable is your key to maintaining connection with customers until you can see them in person again.

A writer friend working with a walking tour business on brochure and sales copy suggested he draft regular blogs on undiscovered urban walks for his client instead. While walking holidays are on hold indefinitely by shifting focus to help stuck at home city-dwellers looking for a change of scenery the tour experts are providing inspiration and a solution to a real problem.

A make-up artist unable to see clients in person turned to weekly Instagram lives to share expert tips and behind the scenes stories from her studio as she pivots to one-to-one online tutorials via video. From painting the walls of her new #WorkFromHome space to painting faces, her stories are true to life, endearing and educational.

The goal of using social media for business is to maintain connection with your audience so be there to respond to comments, ask people questions, ask customers how you can help them, and treat each post as an opportunity to entertain, educate or build community.

Experiment, engage and have fun.

If you have a question or need help navigating a new challenge in your small business send your questions to