Lockdown has made innovators of us all, hasn’t it?
These last few weeks, you’ve learned to work differently…
Perhaps you’ve worked from home and started to find the rhythms you need to manage the various demands facing you, while staying productive. (Click here to read our recent blog that will help you do exactly this.)
Many of you have created new business models, pivoting to remote or online versions of your business, continuing to serve even in lockdown.
Of course, we know there are many of you who have had little choice but to sit tight and pause trading – those of you whose businesses cannot currently be provided in person, but simply do not translate to a virtual or distanced world.
We don’t underestimate how hard this is for you. You have no choice right now but to close your doors and hope for the best.
But we can help you keep a heartbeat in your business so that you are ready to recover and THRIVE as soon as you are physically able.
The key to this is how you embrace the audience or customer base you have worked so hard to build for your business – right now. Not when you’re open for business again. Yes, even if you have nothing to say and nothing to sell. Because…
…What you do now will accelerate or hold back your return to business
A crisis always leaves a legacy. Some of these change society forever – I mean, just look how much WW2 changed women’s emancipation after women were needed to work in a way they never had before.
We believe one of the legacies this crisis will leave behind is a different kind of emotional loyalty even in the business world. Who helped me during lockdown? Who made me feel better when everything else felt dark? Who showed they genuinely care about me?
What you make people feel about you now will stay with them for a long time. That will play out in loyalty – new habits and even new buying decisions in the future.
So even if you have a bricks-and-mortar business that simply cannot trade right now, there is a great deal you can be doing to prepare for recovery – simply by keeping your audience engaged with you (online/email etc).
Give them some of your expertise to tide them over
If you’re selling a specific service that you cannot currently provide, you may be wondering what you could be saying to your customers online.
For example, if you’re a beauty or a hair salon, you can’t just give a tutorial on how to do an amateur skin dermabrasion or a layered cut.
But look deeper at the experience they have with you. Ask yourself this: what are they REALLY buying from you? And that’s where your deep well of content ideas will spring.
For example, do they come for a beauty treatment – to relax? Or a haircut – to boost their self-confidence?
So how about sharing other ideas for relaxation, or feeling good about themselves? Is there an expert hack to make an everyday action better than they would normally do it? Little things people can do for themselves, just to keep them going?
It doesn’t have to be much. But it does need to let them know you are thinking about them…and that you care not just about their custom, but also their well-being!
Involve them in your journey too
One of the worst things about lockdown is that we can no longer see an awful lot of what’s going on, and that makes it hard to process the world around us.
We all want more detail, more certainty. Now, you might not be able to tell me exactly when you will re-open, but you can tell me the latest information you’ve been given about dates. You can tell me that you’ve just spent the day taping markers on the floor ready for opening with physical distancing. You can even tell me you’ve just used an entire vat of antiviral cleaning products to make your premises cleaner than an operating theatre.
That reassures me (even the usually boring info about cleaning). You’re still in business – so I know I don’t need to start thinking about finding a new place to go. More importantly, you’re thinking about my safety, and you’re getting ready so that I can fall through your door in a grateful heap the minute you can unlock your doors again.
Incentivise and entice your customers
We’ve seen some amazing examples of this recently. A pub that flipped its weekly quiz onto a zoom call – and offered prizes in the form of food and drink vouchers. Guess which pub those winners are heading to for their first night out? Gyms offering a free month’s membership to the best home workout upload. Salons offering ‘pay it forward’ vouchers to buy a treatment in advance. *
It’s a simple principle here – make it really easy for people to decide that your business is where they want to go, just as soon as they can.
(*Just be careful that you don’t simply push your cashflow problem forward, by selling so many vouchers now that you’re full booked in future months with customers who won’t be parting with any more cash. Be careful to spread out the pre-paid so that it balances with fresh revenue coming in.)
Think about new customers too
Forgive me, please, if this sounds harsh – but we are talking business here.
Not all your competitors will survive this, sadly. And there’s every chance their customers will be looking for an alternative provider. How can YOU stand out in their search?
Daft as it might sound when revenues need to be restored, now might be a good time to think about introductory offers and loyalty discounts.
And, to wrap up these ideas nicely, isn’t that another really good reason to ramp up your marketing and communications right now…not only to keep your existing customers engaged and loyal, but also to attract those customers who otherwise will walk right past you.
So, there are things you can do to maximise this time, AND build a springboard for your business recovery.
Meanwhile, stay tuned to our blogs – coming up, we’re talking about all the onerous rules and regulations you’ll soon be facing and how you can turn those from a massive inconvenience into a selling advantage, and we’re sharing the marketing lessons from a small in-person business whose online pivot actually grew sales in lockdown.
Subscribe to our mailing list to get our blogs sent straight to your inbox, or like and follow our Facebook page – to make sure you never miss a thing.
Until next time, be well.
Lucy & Emma x