As published in the May edition of Quay Magazine, which you can download here. See page 72!
So, Lockdown 3 is coming to an end, restrictions are starting to ease, and businesses are considering their future plans.
For many, the last year has been difficult, with adjustments to service delivery mechanisms, furlough, closures, restrictions, and a whole lot of uncertainty – and that factor at least looks set to continue.
There is a lot of advice around for how to reopen safely, what to consider, and what safety measures you need to put into place and so on, but how much has been published about the words side of getting back to normal?
How do you go about telling your customers, and those who might be customers, what you’re up to now?
You could probably do with updating your website, if you’ve not already done so. Make sure it reflects the way your business operates now, and how your customers will be approaching you. You might have more online enquiries, for example, or more from within the UK rather than elsewhere.
Refer to the pandemic, but don’t make a huge thing about it. Make the point of your updates to make life easier for your customers. Could you create a single page that covers all the main questions people are asking you, maybe?
There are a bunch of cliched phrases that seem to be everywhere at the moment: ‘these troubled times’ and so on. Avoid them if you can, but you’ve got to use some phrase or other to refer to the last year of chaos, so keep it simple.
Do you have a newsletter? Do you need a newsletter?
Newsletters can be great ways of communicating regularly with customers, and encouraging repeat purchases. If you are reopening, or have special offers, or a limited service for the moment, use your newsletter to keep people in the loop, and minimise frustration – and a string of ‘are you open yet’ messages!
Leaflets and other printed materials
Does your paper stock need updating? Will you actually use it in the short-to-medium term? If your existing leaflets have all of 2020’s info on them, then they’re probably not worth hanging on to anymore, but getting new ones printed at this point might be a waste of money. Who will you give them to? What can you usefully tell people that’s going to remain true if the dates for easing lockdown are changed?
Electronic leaflets and social media might be the way to go, with no associated printing costs, and easily up-dateable if things change. However, you’ll need to be careful going entirely digital if there are sections of your target demographic that aren’t active online.
Social media and online advertising
Who is your target market?
Given the potential influx of holiday-makers that are expected in Cornwall and other tourist hot-spots once such things are permitted, if your business could appeal to those people, how will you reach them? You need to be getting your message where they will see it, perhaps before they arrive. Social media, including paid-for advertising, isn’t my specialist area, and there are many others better qualified to advise you. But you do need to think about it.
If tourists aren’t your audience, you need to establish where ‘your people’ hang out online, and get your information into that space.
Now experiencing a rise in interest, advertising hoardings, adverts in bus shelters, banner adverts on fences, flags and more are a good way to catch attention. Be particular about your message, and your site, and judge whether the outlay is worth the potential benefit, as with any marketing purchase, but get it right and it could really work for you. The key to this style of advertising is to use very few words. Essays are impossible to read as you flash past in the car!
What to say
This is an interesting point, and deserves consideration. Whether you are selling B2B or B2C, there will be some who have had a dreadful year, financially, who are down to almost their last 2 pennies, but still need to replace a broken printer, for example, or send a gift to a relative. There will be others who have had a boom year, for one reason or another, and are keen for businesses to reopen so that they can purchase things that they need but haven’t been able to get hold of until now. Make sure your words are not going to alienate the first group, even if you suspect your audience may be largely comprised of the second group.
I hope this is useful, and gives a different perspective on all the reopening advice. Drop me a line if you need support to make any of it happen for your business – we’re all in the business of getting back on our feet, and I’m happy to discuss terms for any business that knows they need my support but can’t afford a large outlay all at once.