Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
Table of Contents
As quarantine rules relax and small businesses start to reopen, it’s time to think about getting back to “business as usual.” But in a post-COVID-19 world, what will this look like?
At this early stage, there are new ways of working and updated safety procedures that everyone needs to follow… so communication is more important than ever.
In this new period of reopening, think about whether you need to adjust the way you communicate with customers. This time can also be an opportunity to refine your brand voice and ensure you’re communicating effectively and appropriately with your audience.
Make sure you’re online
If there’s one thing we can take away from the quarantine experience, it’s that everybody is online.
In the past, maybe your customers preferred to interact with you and your business in real life… but the pandemic may have changed that. As businesses closed their physical locations over the past few months, many moved their operations online out of necessity. Now these digital capabilities can be assets for your business.
Keep customers informed with a new (or updated) website.
In addition to having a useful website (especially one with an e-commerce presence or online booking), your social media channels are key to connecting with customers. Many people are already spending time on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, so make sure you’re there with them.
If you don’t use social media for your small business, use this time to create accounts, interact with customers and reinforce your brand voice. Listen to what potential customers are saying and learn what they need – this will help you adjust your messaging to make sure you’re fulfilling that need.
If you already have social media accounts, take a look at your likes, shares and comments. What sort of content performs well? Which posts fall flat? Are there themes that come up consistently in the comments?
This information will be crucial for your communication strategy as you reopen. Do people keep talking about slow delivery speeds in the comments? Address that – and let everyone know what you’re doing about it. If posts with a light-hearted theme performed better in the past, this can help set the tone for future communication that your customers will like… and recognise as part of your brand voice.
Time to rebrand?
Branding isn’t just for big businesses – no matter how small the operation, now is a great time to think about how you’re branding yourself.
Your brand is essentially the way you make your customers feel, and the way they see you. As things change and evolve in this newly reopened world, it’s worth revisiting your brand style to see if it’s still relevant to your customers (and the current climate).
Right now, your customers may have different needs than before. Your competition may also have changed, as many businesses have branched out in different directions. Look and listen to what your audience is saying and identify what your customers’ pain points are. Then, adjust your plans to accommodate these changes.
Right now, many consumers are focused on hygiene and concerned about sourcing cleaning products. So, if you’re a small shop that stocks natural home and beauty products, you can adjust your communication to highlight this inventory, and take an approachable, reassuring tone when sharing these products with customers.
Ultimately you want to be relevant, build trust and offer something unique to your customers… so make sure your communication reflects this.
When it comes to interacting with businesses, customer expectations have shifted – remember to consider this when you’re looking at how you communicate.
As you’re reopening, adjusting your hours, or making other operational changes, be upfront about what you’re doing. This also goes for any challenges you may be facing. In these uncertain times, people will appreciate the honesty… and it will show them what they can do to help.
During such a sensitive time, people have responded well to brands that communicate in a clear and authentic way. Showing your humanity will enable you to connect personally with your customers and community, and generate some goodwill towards your business. Your customers might need a reminder that there’s a person behind your small business… so be authentic, empathetic and transparent.
Do something feel-good.
There’s nothing better than making a difference and feeling good about it. Over the past few months, we’ve seen businesses of all sizes step up and help out their local communities. Whether it’s a donation to a local charity or hosting a free online class, a feel-good gesture goes a long way.
If you’re able to give back, do it – and find a cause that’s close to your heart. Share what you’re doing with your customers to inspire them to make a difference, and be the light in someone else’s social media feed. People will remember you for that.
Have a go at PR.
Public relations may seem like it’s only for the big business players, but small business owners can certainly get in on the action.
Right now, media outlets are focusing a lot of their attention on local businesses that have adapted and reinvented themselves during the pandemic. For this reason, small business owners with an inspiring story can pitch their ideas directly to journalists for consideration.
Research rules and guidance on local advertising or try local media outlets, like your local newspaper, to get your message out there. Share what you’ve been doing to give back to the community, how your business has shifted post-COVID-19, or how you’re continuing to serve your customers. Now is a perfect time to try something new.
Take your time
Remember that this reopening situation is unprecedented, so there is no, one, ‘right way’ to do things. Take a breath and figure it all out at your own pace – you know better than anyone what’s right for your business and your brand. Just make sure that whatever you do, you communicate it.