June 16, 2020 | by Lori Highby
From maximizing your social media channels to re-examining your messaging, these tips will help you develop a re-opening marketing strategy.
The coronavirus pandemic has created the most severe economic disruption since the Great Depression. For many businesses, recovery will be extremely trying. Some of the greatest challenges will involve determining when (and how) to reopen your business.
The answers will be determined both by state laws and the nature of your business. In general, though, there are certain steps every business can take to make the process smoother. Let's look at some.
Be ready to adapt. I could just as easily have said, "Be ready to pivot." But to be honest, I'm ready to throw that word in the garbage and never use it again. And I guess that's my point: Before you reopen your doors, you need to take a fresh look around you and get rid of anything that has gone stale.
Refine your online presence. You also have to be ready to embrace fresh ideas. This is actually an exciting prospect in many ways. If, for example, you were one of those businesses that were allowed to stay open in some capacity throughout the pandemic via ecommerce, curbside service or both, chances are you upped your online game considerably. That's great! Now build on that momentum by integrating your newfound online savvy with your tried-and-true offline methods.
The further good news here is that a lot of your customers also increased their digital fluency during the shutdown. Your online reach might be much broader now than you realize.
Use downtime for planning. At some point during the shutdown, you've probably felt a pang in looking back at how busy and fulfilled you felt before the pandemic hit. And that's OK. But you should also remind yourself of all the occasions when you wished you had extra hours in the day to shore up certain areas of your business that weren't as strong as you would have liked.
Well, now you do — and you should take full advantage. Researching a potential new product, creating a more efficient floor plan, expanding your network of support services: Whatever you think could make your business better when you reopen, now is the time to make it happen. Think about the small details too, such as hanging up a large, celebratory banner to let people know you're back in business. If you wait until a few days before you reopen to order one, you might find none are available. Details like that can add up to the difference between a successful reopening and a struggle.
Re-examine your messaging. Some messages survived the pandemic better than others. A luxury-car brand that emphasized a leather interior or high-tech bells and whistles before might now want to shift the focus to its superior safety features. People are seeking reassurance these days. Craft messaging that emphasizes comfort, security and healthy living.
It's also important to emphasize safety when reopening your physical location. Restrooms must be clean and well-stocked. Place bottles of hand sanitizer in conspicuous locations, such as sales counters. It's all part of letting your customers know you understand their concerns.
Consider a loyalty program. Is there a special offer you extend to those who supported you through these trying times? Or to the first customers who return when you're back in full swing? How can you show them you appreciate their coming out?
Yes, funding will be tight at first, but you need to find a way to engage people and let them know you care about solving their problems and addressing their pain points — not just your own. Now is the time when successful brands will show up in a big way, with empathy and emotion, while communicating with their customers.
Maximize your social media channels. I started by emphasizing the importance of refining the online presence you developed during the shutdown, and I'll close be re-emphasizing it. Reopening will be a fluid situation. It's vital to re-evaluate any new messaging weekly. Change up your language as needed, or just to keep it fresh after a while. Just as things changed quickly heading into the pandemic, they will also evolve rapidly as we come out of it. Make sure your messages remain timely, relevant and in alignment with whatever new pain points emerge as well as any unexpected opportunities that arise.
Surviving a pandemic with your business intact is cause for celebration. If you embrace that feeling and go full steam ahead, your customers will respond to that positive energy.
Lori Highby is President of Keystone Click, a Milwaukee-based digital marketing and web design firm. This post was adapted from the webinar "Prepare for Market Revival," which Lori presented with Keystone Click's Director of Client Experience, Will Jurgensen.
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