As many businesses gradually re-open after lockdown, there are some sectors that are inevitably going to find the process more difficult than others. Sectors such as the hospitality, conference and events industries; leisure and retail (especially hair and beauty salons), and even more essential services such, as dental practices, are all presented with greater challenges than many other types of businesses. Building customer confidence is a priority if businesses are going to survive the Covid-19 crisis.
We have produced some pointers that we believe will be fundamental to businesses in these hardest hit sectors:
Effective communication provides the building blocks for the future
Throughout the crisis, we have been impressed with those businesses that have issued periodical updates to their customers, keeping them informed on developments. We are not talking about ‘generating sales’ as such, or capitalising on a crisis, because that can have the adverse effect. The frequency and tone of any messaging in times of crisis requires, in our opinion, compassion and sensitivity so it is important to capture the mood of the public. By all means, tell your customers about a service or product that can genuinely support or assist them through these unusual times, but this needs to be conveyed delicately and with sincerity.
Silence is not always golden! It is reassuring for customers to have that ‘contact’ even if they are unable to physically visit your premises. Knowing you have a plan for re-opening, and sharing this, provides some encouragement and reminds your clients that while your business may be closed in the conventional way, you are “very much there for them.” Or, if you have already re-opened (or never closed for that matter) tell your customers how you are transitioning. This could be in the form of announcements on your website, social media or email contact. If your transitional plan has to change, then inform your customers; most people will be understanding that this situation is like nothing any of us have ever experienced before.
Videos and photos tell a thousand words
While we are in ‘the words’ business, we also understand the power of video and imagery to visually convey a message, or tell a story. We have been impressed with the small independent businesses, such as some retailers for example, who have taken the time to produce a video to show how their premises have been re-organised to adopt social distancing guidelines and the measures they have in place for customer safety. Many have shared these on social media. Customers can see the changes for themselves and this is, without doubt, an effective confidence booster. Videos don’t have to be professional corporate style productions; in fact, the most effective are those that have just been ‘self-produced’ because they very often feel more sincere and ‘real’. So now is the ideal time to get your phone out and start filming if you can!
Baby Steps, rather than Giant Strides
Again, judging the public mood is always advisable, especially when it comes to advertising and promotions. While there is some merit in trying to promote ‘business as normal’, most of us know that the world, at this moment, is far from normal! Adjust your advert designs and messaging to suit the current situation. Put yourself if your customers’ shoes and think about what you would like to know about your business. What would incentivise you to return? Is the message currently more likely to resonate if it is about safety, rather than sales discounts or product offering? Building confidence tends to work better in the form of baby steps, rather than giant strides. It is a time to be agile and flexible in your marketing approach.
Using the Media, at the Right Time, with the Right Message
If your business is being especially innovative in overcoming some of the conventional obstacles for re-opening, then now is the perfect time to share your story with the media. Consider writing a press release to send to the local/national or trade media, or contact a PR company to do this on your behalf. We are all in need of some positivity so now is the perfect time for spreading ‘good news’ stories, especially those that provide ‘solutions to common problems’.
Even if you don’t want to involve the media, it is a good idea to publish regular news on your website to keep your customers informed of developments. Here are some ideas to get the ball rolling!
You may have developed an innovative product or introduced a new service to help customers during the pandemic. People will be interested to learn about this.
You may have taken your business online and embraced e-commerce for those who are less willing, or unable, to physically go to a shop. You are opening up your customer base on a national, even international level, so there could be a media story in this.
You will most certainly have re-organised your premises and adopted new procedures for visiting customers. What feedback have you received from customers to these new measures? Sharing guidance with others can gain positive media coverage.
You may have invested in new equipment to make your business more efficient or to safeguard your employees and customers? You may have used the downtime to make some improvements to your premises. Consider collaborating with your supplier to spread the news about this investment, which will reflect your business ethos in a positive light.
We are here to support you ….
If you need any PR support to help your business get back on its feet during the easing of lockdown, then please get in touch with us to find out more. We understand the pressure on marketing budgets and that is why we offer a range of affordable services to support your business.
As a small, caring and conscientious PR consultancy in Leamington Spa, we offer a range of PR services such as press releases, website content services, marketing communications, social media support and more. If you have something semi-prepared and would like us to check it, we can do that too!
We promise: a value for money service with affordable fees making us viable for small independent businesses who need a little PR and marketing assistance in these vulnerable times.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more, or please call me on 01926 614696 for a chat to see how we can help.