The football’s cancelled, the high street’s desolate and an end-of-day pint is totally out of the question. Lockdown is a necessary measure to defeat the coronavirus, but one we doubt anyone is relishing.
Small business owners are enjoying this less than almost anyone. Many sectors have ground to a complete standstill, and the only businesses managing to keep anything running are either those selling genuine essentials, or those able to offer delivery services.
We hope the government's aid package is helping your business stay afloat. While the powers that be grapple with the huge task of beating the pandemic, there are ways local businesses can adapt to social distancing.
It’s vital that those businesses that are still operating make the customer experience as free from physical contact as possible. Here are a few practical ways your business can go contact-free for the course of the pandemic.
With face-to-face interaction now an option of last resort, you’ve got to consider other ways to ensure your customers can still get your products or services.
Around the country, various bakeries, restaurants (and even some pubs) have adapted to the new restrictions by fundamentally changing how they operate. In some cases, this has involved shifting to a delivery-only service, or even, in the case of this Portadown local pub, by refashioning themselves into a makeshift off-license selling essential supplies.
If you’re able to do any of these things, do them as quickly as possible and then highlight them in all your current marketing collateral.
There’s room to go further here. Companies like Dominos, Ubereats and M&S are now offering ‘contact-free’ deliveries, where the customer specifies a safe place for the driver to leave the food, concluding the whole delivery process without any need for physical contact.
If you're not in a position to offer deliveries, please make sure that customers are able to make contactless card payments in-store. Strictly regulate both the distances between people queueing and the number of people inside at any given time. When serving customers, always keep your distance and wear latex gloves.
Lots of businesses, even those with very little to do with the ‘event industry’, get a lot of marketing value out of hosting events. Suffice to say, a full programme of physical events isn’t going to be on the cards right now.
But before you cancel any of the events you had lined up, consider whether you could conduct them online?
The biggest beasts in business have already quickly migrated some of their big-ticket events online - Microsoft has made its annual developer conference, Build, a fully virtual event this year.
But you don’t need the resources of a Silicon Valley goliath to impress audiences with an engaging online event. Just sign up for an account on Zoom or Twitch, and you can broadcast live from your own living room.
You can even make these events more interactive with Q&A sessions, quizzes and live chats. Who said lockdown had to be boring?
This is one for all the service providers. Unless you’re providing an essential service like plumbing or electrics, day-to-day business may well have been severely curtailed.
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep trying to stay on customers’ minds. Quite the opposite: your business's success is founded on the meaning your brand holds in people’s heads. That’s as true in a crisis as any other time, if not more so. Strong brands, who had long used advertising and marketing to build up distinct identities, bounced back 9x faster after the 2008-9 recession (Brandz Global, 2019).
As a format, video is a powerful brand-building engine, and a highly adaptable one at that. Now that face-to-face contact is untenable, providers need another way to showcase their skills and knowledge of their field. Why not film a few educational videos and tutorials for prospective customers on the most common DIY objectives in your field?
As an example, a beautician might shoot a brief video demonstrating how to get a killer smokey eye at home, armed with nothing more than a standard makeup kit and a mirror.
This kind of content can perform very well on social media, offering value to existing customers temporarily stuck without your services and introducing your expertise to a new audience.
If you’d like to take advantage of the power of video yourself, our expert creative team can produce a high quality video ad for your business. Get in touch to find out more.
If you work in business services, you’ll know the importance of keeping everyone on the same page. Those Monday morning stand-up meetings might have been put on hold, but you can still make sure all your team members are briefed and in the loop through video conference call technology.
Zoom allows you to add up to 300 participants to a call, so there’s little risk of any of your colleagues or stakeholders falling behind.
With so many options for seamless online conferencing, there’s little risk of either your internal or external communications coming out of whack.
The Coronavirus may well change how we do business in the long term, accentuating pre-existing trends towards remote working, virtual events and delivery-based service. Whatever happens, the businesses that adapt the fastest will come out ahead.
This is a scary situation for many companies, but it’s also an opportunity to soak up some new skills and update how you run your business. If we keep our heads up and get to grips with newer technologies, we might even come out of the Coronavirus pandemic stronger and more sustainable than before.
For more information on how you can support your business throughout the Coronavirus outbreak, take a read of our dedicated advice page here.
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