We’re now eight months into 2020 – and it’s safe to say that it’s not been the year many of us had anticipated. However, spending the time now putting a plan in place which focuses on the road to recovery for your business will not only help you prioritise your aims and objectives for the rest of this year, but also help you to map out your priorities and focus for the year ahead.
As we’ve already seen, the situation with COVID-19 and its impact is ever-changing, so having a business plan in place which you can turn to should circumstances change unexpectedly will help to keep you on track and give you a checklist to refer to.
For most businesses which have been able to weather the COVID-19 storm, the priority will be to build back sales – but the only way to do this safely and effectively is by regaining customer trust. In this blog post we’ve put together a list of things for you to consider within your post-lockdown business plan.
Communication really is key
Right now, business confidence is an issue for all industries, especially those within the retail and hospitality sectors as well as close contact businesses which have been hit the hardest during the pandemic.
Therefore, it’s essential that you invest in your ongoing internal and external communication strategy to get through the next stage of business recovery. If you have reopened your business, or are about to, you should regularly keep in touch with your customers and suppliers by informing them of any changes to the way you are operating now so they too can be aware of the implemented changes should they purchase an item from you or use one of your services.
This will be critical to ensure that employees within the business know the appropriate parameters to work within and that customers feel assured and confident too.
It’s imperative that as you reopen your business and try to increase sales, you ensure that your brand values and key messages resonate with the general mood as the crisis evolves.
It’s a good time to remind both your existing customers and any new customers about the reasons why they chose your company in the first place. What are your unique selling points? Use these to your advantage by implementing them into your communications and business plan.
Maintaining your brand tone of voice and bringing your brand personality to every piece of communication is equally important, whether that be on your website, social media channels or in the e-newsletters you are sending out to customers.
Understand your clients’ needs and expectations
The coronavirus has obviously had a profound effect on all businesses which have faced unprecedented levels of disruption – and it’s also changed the needs of customers.
When planning your post-pandemic strategy, be mindful of listening to your customers and taking into consideration the way their buying behaviour may have changed. You should explore how to make changes to your operations so that you have alternative means of reaching your customers to maximise sales. Could you switch to providing a service via a traditional method such as using the phone, or is offering online services a route you can go down?
If we’ve learned anything from lockdown, it’s that meetings can be done virtually thanks to tools such as Zoom and Teams. Whether you and your employees continue to work from home or are able to start working in an office environment again, it’s likely video conferencing will be the normal way of meeting for some time. Having the right equipment will make all the difference and will make the experience better not only for you and your staff, but also for your clients.
Want to know some top tips about video conferencing? Read ours here.
Maximise your digital presence
Although the official Government advice around home working changed on 1st August, many employees are expected to continue working from home for the time being which means that the trend and shift in digital collaboration is set to remain.
As more of us are using online and digital resources as a means of communication, you must ensure that your digital profiles are regularly kept up to date. For example, have you updated your opening hours on your website and on Google? Do you have somewhere on your website where customers can read about how you are operating in line with Government guidance?
The same applies to your social media channels – make sure they are up to date and that you are keeping your customers informed regularly, and especially after any Government announcements which may impact your industry.
Searches for digital PR agencies in the UK have increased by 250% according to Google Trends, proving just how much firms are taking into consideration their digital presence.
Make the most of Government initiatives
If you’re not already doing so, make sure you are following the relevant Government departments on social media and that you regularly monitor the official Government website so that you don’t miss any announcements which could affect your business.
It’s also worth making the most of any Government initiatives which you could qualify for. On 30th July, the Government announced £20 million in new grants to help smaller businesses recover from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. This will allow small and medium-sized businesses to access grants between £1,000 and £5,000 to help them purchase new technology, equipment, professional, legal or financial advice which also includes PR and marketing.
Ultimately, giving staff and customers the confidence to return to your business after lockdown will be a challenge, but planning ahead will be worthwhile in the long term.
If you’d like to know more about how we can help you reopen your business with confidence using a communications and marketing strategy, please get in touch.