Just a few months ago, we began to hear talk of a virus infecting people in faraway countries. Now, it has owned our headlines for months and ravaged much of what we knew as normal. What does that mean for businesses trying to survive and re-open? What will your business look like and how will you get your customers back?
How do you successfully market your reopening?
Before you can successfully market your re-opening, you need to understand your new operations. It boils down to a simple question. In this post-pandemic environment, what are you selling?
- What changed? Were you totally shut down or offering curbside and to-go services? Will you continue those options? How will the delivery of your product or services change? Map out the changes before you start. Your marketing message should address your new reality so that customers know what to expect.
- Keep your customers and employees safe. Safely returning to your business is important to both your employees and customers. Promote it! Tell them how you are going to make their experience safe and enjoyable.
- What do your customers miss the most? If you have been staying connected with your customers, you know what they miss the most and you can highlight it in your reopening message. It’s why they come to you – the things that make them miss you the most. Make that the forefront of re-opening marketing. If your customers are missing your Friday night happy hour drink special, extend the special and pricing for a week. Communicate the special and offer to promote it on a regular basis.
- How has the competitive environment changed? Take the time to look at the competitors in your space. Have they reopened? Has their model changed? Your focus and product offering should remain uniquely you; it just might need to look a little different than it did a few months ago.
- GET ONLINE! This has been important for years, but it’s imperative now. Your digital presence needs to be the cornerstone of marketing your re-opening. The habits that have been created aren’t going away. People will be purchasing, researching, and interacting with businesses online beyond this pandemic. If you aren’t there, well, think long and hard about the long-term feasibility of your business.
Now you have it, Ready, set go!
Marketing during – and after – a pandemic requires flexibility and an open mind to continually assess and reassess your strategy. Marketing your reopening will be the same. This is uncharted territory, and everyone is feeling their way along – including your customers. Watch and listen to how they react. They will tell you what they think of your new plan and you need to be prepared to make adjustments as you go.
Communication is now more critical than ever. Let your customers know what the new you looks like and how it will work. Share new procedures that they may have to follow such as wearing a mask or ordering ahead. Details and information will provide a settled feeling and order in an unsettling time.
Hopefully, you have maintained communication with your customers throughout this ‘pause.’ If you have not, now is the time to capture customer information either with your POS systems, or an electronic form of gathering email and contact information. Keeping your customers engaged makes the return to your business much easier for everyone.
Your customers want you as much as you want them, albeit for different reasons. Build on that desire. You and your business have been a part of their Friday night happy hour or weekly BFF manicure. Set expectations prior to their return. Be honest and be authentic. It will not be the way it was before, but it’ll be great…. tell them how.
Once your business is open, greet your customers and thank them for returning. Make sure they feel like no time has passed. If they have always ordered the same pizza and you know it, ask them if they’ll have the usual. When they leave, address them by name and invite them back. Tell them you have missed them.
What will your business look like post-pandemic?
Please remember it is you they have missed, and it is you they cannot wait to see again. So, keep up communication, welcome each customer, thank them, and invite them back. They know your business will look a little different. These are very interesting times and it just may be the time to get to know your customers and your business better than you have before.
We all have a rough road ahead of us and our success depends upon the success of those around us. If you aren’t sure what to do next, don’t be shy about asking. We’re here to help and so are many others.