Coronavirus has changed the way of life for virtually everyone around the world to some extent. And small business owners have been impacted more than almost anyone.
Thanks to the public health threat, many people had to work from home for the first time, and some will do so for the foreseeable future. The national lockdown closed non-essential enterprises temporarily and all businesses have been forced to follow new health and safety procedures.
While the powers that be continue to battle the pandemic, it’s vital that businesses adapt to social distancing and this new reality.
Here are a few practical ways your business can be proactive for the course of the pandemic.
With the way businesses interact with customers forever changed thanks to the pandemic, you’ve got to consider new ways to ensure your own customers feel safe enough to connect with what you’re selling.
Around the country, various bakeries, restaurants (and even some pubs) have adapted to the new restrictions by fundamentally changing how they operate. This has involved introducing deliveries or outdoor pop-up services, or even, in the case of this restaurant near Wisbech, offering customers outdoor dining pods for a novel social distanced experience.
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 messaging.
There’s room to go further here. For customers that are still shielding or self-isolating, companies like Dominos, Ubereats and M&S offer ‘contact-free’ deliveries. This is 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, help your customers feel more comfortable with 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 a mask and 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. But with the government still restricting large indoor and outdoor gatherings, a full programme of physical events may be off the cards for a while.
But before you cancel any of the events you had lined up, consider whether you could conduct them online?
Hastings playhouse, White Rock Theatre, has already announced their plans to take the annual Hastings Musical Festival virtual in 2021. They will be running classes in all four sections (dancing, singing, instrumental and speech and drama) and competitors will be able to view the other performances in their class online.
You can even make these events more interactive with Q&A sessions, quizzes and live chats. Who said living through a pandemic had to be boring?
This is one for all the service providers. Unless you’re providing an essential service like plumbing or electrics, customer numbers may well have stumbled over the last few months.
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep trying to stay on customers’ minds. According to a BrandZ analysis of brands following the 2008 economic crisis, those who had long used advertising and marketing to build up distinct identities bounced back 9x faster.
As a format, video is a powerful brand-building engine, and a highly adaptable one at that. For your customers still cutting their own hair or keeping their beauty routine in-house, why not film a few educational videos and tutorials? This is a great way to showcase your skills and field of knowledge.
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 both new and existing customers and might encourage them to book a face-to-face appointment with you sooner than they thought.
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 or read our article about the different types of video your business may need.
Since the recent tightening of restrictions, those Monday morning stand-up meetings have been put on hold and you are once again keeping your team members in the loop through video conference call technology.
When employees are no longer working at the same office, it’s not just work meetings that are impacted, but your own company culture. Utilise your Zoom, Google Meets or Skype account for a casual catch up with colleagues. If you’re all in different areas or not yet comfortable in bars and restaurants, why not get everyone together for a virtual drink every week.
Maintaining a great company culture with remote employees is a challenge. But it’s vital if you want to elevate productivity and maintain the bonds your employees have built with each other.
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.
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