We know that the Coronavirus outbreak is causing anxiety in local communities, and impacting local businesses particularly. We’re offering our full support to you and your business throughout this troubling and unprecedented period.
Our first piece of advice is to stay updated on and follow the latest government advice about health and safety.
If you are continuing to trade during this time, there are a number of things you can do to mitigate the outbreak’s effect on your business until the situation stabilises. We’re committed to keeping local businesses confident about their prospects, and we’d encourage you to read in more detail here about how JPIMedia Local can help you.
For more advice about staying on track, please contact us to discuss your business’s particular challenges, and we’ll fill you in on our specially-made solutions that will give you valuable exposure.
For now, we have a few points for you to consider in your strategy to support your business during the Coronavirus outbreak.
The first thing you can do is check your online listings, in particular Google My Business. For many customers, this will be the most convenient portal for discovering updates to opening hours, so ensure that this kind of basic information is always accurate.
If you’re emailing your contact list, make sure your email offers something of genuine and immediate informational value, with language that respects the gravity of the situation. Don’t waste customers’ time with frivolous promotions, and certainly do not encourage any behaviour that might in any way conflict with current official health guidance. On social media, keep your communications professional and relevant to the situation.
Staying on the front foot with an active communication strategy is your opportunity to combat fake news and speculation that might harm your business. Customers will want to know about any and all changes to your opening times or how to access you in good time - you don’t want people to assume you are not trading, if you are.
Businesses that can deliver their products to people’s doors will be favoured over ones that do not, so if you do offer deliveries, this should be a prominent part of your message to the public. If you do not offer deliveries, consider if there is a way that you can start doing so.
Find ways to keep your business in people’s mind through the downturn. Once we reach the other side of the crisis, companies that used this time to cultivate their brand will have a competitive edge over those businesses who completely shut down their advertising activity.
Recent history shows the value of brand building during an economic dip. Following the financial crisis of 2008, the businesses with the strongest brand equity - not just the biggest or most financially successful, but those whose names meant something to people thanks to their marketing efforts - recovered 9 times faster (Brandz Global, 2019).
People see local news as their most trustworthy source of information on everything happening in their communities, and advertisers who appear on local news sites see a corresponding boost in people’s perceptions of their honesty and reliability.
Everywhere you go, people are shut at home, with local media serving as their vital lifeline to the outside world. At JPIMedia, we have seen a significant increase in traffic to our local news websites, and in sales of our print titles. That means more visibility for the businesses who advertise with us.
Appearing in quality environments also helps you avoid the well-founded concerns people have about misinformation swirling around social media and fake news websites.
Beyond your ads’ placement, you’ve got to consider what messaging will (and won’t) play well during this extraordinary period, and what tone to strike.
Customers will be wary of unfamiliar businesses, so trumpet your credentials. Depending on your business, these could be professional qualifications and certifications, customer reviews, food hygiene ratings, Investors in People awards and so on - anything that paints a picture of a responsible business built on solid foundations that customers can trust.
When this is all over, local customers will remember those businesses that did their bit for the most vulnerable people in their community during the Coronavirus outbreak. In this vein, we’d recommend you read our recent article on positioning your business as socially conscious and responsible. Consider applying some of the tips from this piece to your approach to the current crisis.
If you’re maintaining a physical operation during the outbreak, make a real effort to demonstrate to your customers the extra measures you’re taking to safeguard them from infection.
For instance, let people know about your heightened cleaning regimen, availability of contactless payments, greater physical distance among staff members and the installation of extra hand sanitiser stations.
All your communications need to be written in the right register, or tone of voice. To help soothe frayed nerves, prioritise thoughtfulness, empathy and honesty. Demonstrate you understand people's worries without exacerbating them through overt gloominess. Equally, avoid exaggerated optimism; it’ll just sound hollow and insincere.
This is a situation that very few of us will ever have experienced before in our lifetimes, presenting challenges most business owners never dreamed of facing. None of us know how long this interruption to daily life will last, but a light will come at the end of the tunnel.
All of us at JPIMedia are committed to supporting communities and businesses for as long as this crisis lasts. We hope the information we’ve given here will prove useful in keeping things ticking over.
We have created some special solutions to help you during this situation, so do get in touch for advice on how we can help your business stay visible during this turbulent time.