Communicating your way out of crisis – three tips for business owners as restrictions ease

Communicating your way out of crisis – three tips for business owners as restrictions ease

I’m sure we all remember the deluge of emails we received at the start of lockdown explaining how every company had been affected by Coronavirus. Never has the word ‘unprecedented’ been used so freely. 

So, now that restrictions are starting to lift, and with the retail sector set to reopen in earnest next month, let’s learn the lesson of Coronavirus closure overload and take a breath before we start to communicate with customers and the general public.  Here’s a few things to consider: 

Just complying with the government guidelines isn’t news 

The government has laid out a variety of guidelines so that businesses can operate safely.  And an additional set of restrictions for retailers around physical distancing, customer numbers, hygiene, handling goods and more. But if all you have to say is that that you’ll be complying with these…then please reconsider!  This shouldn’t be the focus of your communication.  There are certain to be other things you can communicate that will be more useful to your business, your customers and clients.  It will be your customers’ minimum expectation that you will be adhering to all the relevant regulations. But if you really want to cover this off then why not show rather than tell your customers what exactly you are doing – or have done – to make their safety is a priority? Think short video clips or collages.

Give people a reason to use you  

Financial constraints aside, which are obviously a significant consideration for some, there is a definite desire for a return to some sort of normality and that includes being able to buy products and services.  Which it now looks like we can do more freely from 15th June.  

There is a huge appetite to support ‘the little guys’ right now.  Business owners – this is your moment!  But you need to give people a reason to use you.  So be visible.  On social media, and via email marketing to your customer database.   

Tap into the national excitement about the lifting of restrictions with a ‘countdown to opening’ on social media.  If you have funky face masks for the team then fabulous.  Apparently, we will be discouraged from picking items up in shops.  So, if you’re a retailer then feature individual pieces on your socials. Show them being handled, modelled or used to give customers some context. Let’s see short clips of what you sell or the services you provide.   

If you’ve been able to help out in some way during the crisis or temporarily changed what you do then tell that story as part of your ‘re-opening’ marketing.  People buy people so bring yourself and your team to life.    

If you can’t pivot – twist!  

There were some fabulous stories during the early days of lockdown about businesses ‘pivoting’.  Distilleries producing hand sanitiser, engineering companies making ventilators and schools using 3D printers to create face shields.  Obviously, that’s not possible (or even desirable) in all cases but give consideration to how you can make things easier or better for your customers. 

Customer service is key right now.   Businesses have made more personal connections during lockdown and consumers appreciated it.  Think about how you can extend that and build a community for your business.  Whether by offering delivery for people having to isolate or providing preferential slots and opportunities to valued customers.  And challenge your thinking around the products and services you offer by considering how life may realistically look for the foreseeable future.  People will be spending more time at home.  Think what might make that environment more appealing – home décor, home improvements (it’s a great time for trades), Storage solutions, furniture, kitchenware, homeworking gadgets and everything for the garden – from flowers to football.  The list goes on – how can your business tap in? 

The lifting of restrictions is a fabulous opportunity for businesses, but the landscape has changed.  Potentially, consumers expect more from shops and firms but the pay-off is that loyalty for local is at an all-time high.  We saw many small firms step up during the crisis and respond to customer demand more quickly than their less agile larger competitors and there is a willingness to repay that.  So, get communicating!  But please – no ‘unprecedented’! 

Want to work on your communication with your customers or employees? Get in touch to find out how we can help.