You could almost hear the sound as COVID-19 forced millions of businesses to come to a screeching halt, shutting down all or some of their operations. Not only was the closure unprecedented, so now is the reopening. The situation lasted longer than anyone could have foreseen, and instead of having an easy-to-read manual on how to get back up and running, business leaders are scrambling to learn as they go.
In Michigan this week, the Governor announced the next phase of recovery which allows some companies to reopen partially or by appointment. This is met with a mix of excitement and relief — and nervousness for what comes next. One thing we do know is that this isn’t the time to slow or stop marketing and business development efforts or client outreach. Although it may not be business as usual, you can still move forward full steam ahead in many other ways to keep your company running.
Our team at mConnexions has compiled our top marketing recommendations as you prepare to reopen. Follow these proactive tips to ensure that you’re positioned in the best way possible for coming out of the coronavirus pandemic on top and on target.
Make Marketing A Top Priority
Some businesses may have dropped official marketing efforts completely in response to the financial problems they faced with the shutdown. If you were one of those businesses, hopefully you are now able to reformulate your previously marketing structure and plans to now focus your efforts on recovery.
Within your marketing budget, what can be reallocated? For example, is company travel on hold? Have your trade shows been cancelled? Are you postponing in-person events that would have used marketing dollars? These line items may be better spent now on other marketing efforts, especially those that typically deliver a more immediate return on investment for lead generation. Analyze what changes can be made for the next few months, and reassess what funds can be put to better use and divert them into stronger options. Our recommendation? Take a thorough look at your marketing messaging and go digital!
Remember that consistency is key in being able to gain a competitive advantage. Stay present and accessible to your existing customers so they are ready to return. If your business has not yet reopened, use this gift of time as a reason not to pause, but to prepare for recovery.
Reassure Your Customers
While we ease out of the pandemic, it’s essential to achieve new levels of comfort for your clients or customers. Your messaging should be calm and positive. Prove that your company is taking the pandemic seriously with photos on your virtual outlets that show your new process of visiting or meeting. Have a plan in place, in writing, that you can share with your guests on your website and social media, so they see the steps you’re taking to open safely. From hand sanitizer stations, specifically spaced social distancing markers, delivery options, and video meetings, demonstrate how you have prepared. Respect everyone’s fears and requests graciously. Ensure transparency with your clients and understand what is important to them.
It’s not enough to answer a client query in a day or two. The businesses that are best placed for profit are those that are getting back to potential clients immediately. With almost everyone spending hours a day on phones and laptops, there’s an expectation that responses should be practically instant. Designate someone to monitor your social media accounts, emails, and voicemails, so that you start that relationship and connection as soon as someone reaches out.
New Customer Recruitment
Now is the time to snag new clients who lost their former business connections and are up for grabs! Many people are floundering because their traditional business contacts are closed completely and may not return, from favorite restaurants to contractors. Even spots that need extra time to return can lose clients to competitors, so it’s the right time to recruit. With all of the extra time people have, they are exploring options for after the shutdown ends. This is your opportunity to be the solution! Promote, promote, promote! Keep your social media accounts updated with strong content and imagery. Send out newsletters to your client list with a referral bonus offer for existing customers who bring in a new client for you. It’s the optimal time to gather new visitors with special promos and deals. Consumers will be anxious about finances, which makes 0% financing options, special pricing, discounts or bonus offers especially attractive.
Regaining Customer Loyalty
It’s common business knowledge that it’s cheaper to keep an existing customer than try to get a new one. Don’t neglect your core clients! Reach out to them and send them your best wishes during this time. Ask if they need anything. While it’s unlikely people will be requesting anything of you, they may have some product or service questions, or will simply appreciate feeling like you truly care about their wellbeing. Treat them as family, and see how that relationship becomes stronger than ever.
Be A Source of Fun
People are not only exhausted by the quarantine, they are emotionally thrown by losing normal forms of socialization. We all miss that level of human connection. And, just because the country is slowly reopening, it doesn’t mean that everyone is ready to venture out yet. It will take time. Think of unique ways to be there for your clients. Would they want to join a virtual happy hour to say hello? Could you plan to host a social distancing get together as small gatherings are permitted? Share your own “survival” tactics, from fun dinner recipes to favorite hiking trails or craft recommendations. Rather than using this form of outreach to promote your business or services, this is where you are there for your clients and colleagues. Interact with them, listen to their concerns and their own stories, and be a source of light in what’s a very dark time.
While our entire global community is feeling the impact of changes being made due to COVID-19, businesses have a unique opportunity to enhance marketing, client recruitment, and customer loyalty. As we face these challenges together, our team at mConnexions is highlighting the services available to help, along with additional resources on crisis communications, marketing, and business recovery. Learn more about our response to coronavirus and how to make the most of your reopening plans!