Since the pandemic hit the world, nearly every business changed in some way. Perhaps you installed sneeze guards in front of your registers. Maybe you had to close for a bit. Figuring out who you are with the world topsy-turvy isn’t the easiest endeavour. However, you can still successfully brand your business and see growth.
The U.S. Census Bureau recently released their Small Business Pulse Survey of 22,449 entrepreneurs. They found 51.4% of respondents expect six months or longer before their businesses recover from the impact of the virus.
The businesses bouncing back fastest will be those who are proactive at branding in a post-COVID society. While things may slowly return to normal, the pandemic’s impact will last for a long time. Here are some things you can do to ensure your company’s survival:
1. Share Pertinent Information
Don’t just rely on the same old content you used before coronavirus struck. People may have different priorities now than they did three months ago. Think about your typical buyer and what they care most about. How does this translate to life after COVID-19? Address the issues in your content marketing schedule.
For example, if you run a heating and cooling company, what steps do you now take that you didn’t before to ensure safety? Do your technicians wear a mask when entering a home? Think about tips you can offer homeowners to help them feel safer, such as recommendations on how to disinfect their homes after a repairperson comes in.
2. Understand Human Emotions
Going back to business-as-usual may not be the best approach post-COVID. Researchers in the U.K. found 53% of shoppers changed their buying habits permanently due to the pandemic. Perhaps staying home with family and focusing on the simpler things in life shifted priorities. Maybe people see a need to save in case there is another global pandemic. Whatever the reason, don’t put up the same ads you used in the past.
Know that people’s emotions are raw. Many feel fear even with locations reopening. There is uncertainty about jobs, economies and public health. Be aware of those feelings and revamp your marketing accordingly.
3. Communicate With Customers
One way to stay afloat during these tough economic times is by keeping the customers you have. A loyal customer is more likely to buy from you and spend more than a new one. While you need both for growth, customer retention should be at the top of your list.
Show your current customers how much you care about their needs and value them as a customer. Take the time to reach out and communicate regularly. Mail them a postcard and use reassuring language when chatting. The better you know your customers, the more refined your words become.
4. Share Your Unique Attributes
What makes your brand the best choice? Know what your unique value proposition (UVP) is and why customers should choose you over competitors. Although it’s sad to see any business go under, some of your competitors may lose the fight post-COVID and close down. Be ready to reach out to the customers suddenly left without a source for these products or services.
You may even want to come up with a campaign ahead of time and have it ready to go in case a competitor closes. However, the last thing you want to do is come off like a shark circling bloody water. Make sure you give credit to the business these consumers used before and tell them you know they must be sad to lose a valuable part of the community. Then, offer to serve their needs. Be sensitive, and your message should be well received.
5. Change Your Business Model
If you work in the hospitality or travel industry, you may have taken a much harder hit than some other businesses. Even the restaurant industry has options for delivery and carryout, but people simply aren’t travelling as much right now. This is the right time to look at automation and hands-off services.
In a recent report by McKinsey & Company, researchers found coronavirus accelerated machine learning and robotics for industries involved in travel especially. They talked to executives and discovered they are already looking at ways to reassure cautious consumers and put their workers’ safety and mental health first.
Even small businesses can find ways to conduct operations with less hands-on involvement. What touchpoints can you reduce in your stores? How can you reassure customers you’re keeping things clean and safe for them?
6. Adjust Your Onboarding
Since you may bring in new customers once the threat of the virus lessens, be ready with new and improved onboarding techniques. Ideally, your onboarding also explains how you handle health and safety for your employees and customers.
No matter what type of business you run, new buyers want to know you’re taking extra precautions to help them avoid the illness. Share your cleaning procedures in detail. Just saying that you follow recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) isn’t enough. Customers want to know exactly what you do, what cleaning products you use and how careful you are when packaging products for shipment or serving them in person.
How you protect your employees is also a vital component. People are reluctant to support a company that ignores protocols for worker safety. Do you screen workers each morning for their temperatures and have them fill in a questionnaire about potential symptoms? What happens if someone grows ill while at work? Are those around them quarantined as well? Be as specific as possible.
Thriving During Post-COVID
Failure rates of small businesses are high to start with. The struggles of 2020 make survival even more difficult. However, companies can still get ahead if they consider the needs of their target audience and adjust their business models to reflect buyers’ concerns and desires. Make a plan, but understand you may need to change it. Flexibility allows you to adapt quickly to any future changes in how the country does business and fix any errors you might make along the way.
#Covid19 #workfromhome #postcovid #coronavirus
Lexie Lu is a UX content strategist and graphic designer.
She enjoys covering topics related to UX design, web design,
social media and branding. In her spare time, she loves walking her dog,
watching HGTV and baking.
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or follow her on Twitter @lexieludesigner.