I use the word “post” lightly because globally it’s not over. A lot of countries are coming out of lock down and emerging back into the world.  Businesses are returning to a new normal with social distancing, track and trace and even face masks.

My 5 top tips are developed from the work I’ve been doing with my clients during COVID19 and further reading.

1. Reassurance

I was speaking with a client last week who has recently opened up his opticians’ practice after being closed for 3 months, we spoke about how to make his customers feel reassured. It is important your customers feel safe to enter the premises, order your products or use your service. But it also important that staff feel safe to return to work.

With Mark Davis Opticians we discussed the best way to educate his customers upon reopening. He has installed safety screens and all customers and staff have to wear face masks and have their temperature tested upon arrival (this is following UK guidelines, which aren’t so restrictive in NZ). Our concern was customers might be put off by these new procedures, so I was keen to get photos which reassure customers via social media.

2. Adapt

Not all companies can return to opening or normal trading so they need to adapt. Educate your followers to remind them you are still in business, but you might be takeaway or online orders only. If you’ve had to adapt make sure you tell your followers about it, as a small business it’s very likely your loyal customers will want to continue to support you, so explain to them how they can support them. Plus don’t forget your website or telephone link as your call to action.

3. Reach out

It’s been tough, there is no denying it, some businesses are not going to survive, most will make it but need a little extra support to keep going. Ask for help from your loyal customers, ask for their support, be vulnerable, explain on your website, social media or e-mail how things are going. Because you don’t want your customers saying “we would have supported you” after you’ve gone out of business. Explain how customers can support you; buying online, buying a voucher or making a donation.

Here in New Zealand a fabulous initiative was set up by a small enterprise called SOS Business allowing people to buy vouchers during the lock down which could be redeemed later, supporting cashflow during these difficult times.

4. Review your website

Use this time to review your website, most businesses may still be a little slow as people emerge from lock down (unless you are a hairdresser!). A lot of my website clients who I’ve not heard from for years have used this time to review their online content. Check your keywords, check your marketing message, are your images up to date and is your website fit for purpose.

Can you adapt your website to sell online? I have been working with one of my website clients who teaches yoga, she had to adapt her service to deliver her classes online. I developed an online area for members to watch Inner Peace Yoga’s videos. This has been a lot of work for Leigh but an invaluable resource for her business in the future.

5. Keep in touch with current customers

I’ve said that your customers may show loyalty to you, so make sure you keep in touch with them, a perfect way to do is this through e-mail marketing. Hopefully you have their e-mails (and permission to contact them!) and send them an update to reassure, update and reach out to them. I am a big fan of Mail Chimp due to it’s affordability (free up to 2,000 subscribers and unlimited sends) but whichever e-mail marketing software you use, the stats for e-mail marketing over the past few months are on the increase. “More people are opening email during the COVID-19 pandemic than ever before……open rates have increased by 20% compared to April 2019” (Campagin Monitor, 2020). But be careful not to bombard your contacts, keep them informed, but not too often.

And finally, should I provide offers?

I haven’t included this as tip because I’m on the fence and a lot of my research supports this. Budgets are tight so should you be providing offers to encourage customers to return to you or should they remain the same? My thinking is that you shouldn’t be providing offers and diluting your service, you should be encouraging your current loyal customers back and providing a service or product which is safe and secure. I’ll leave this one for a discussion point, because I know there are mixed opinions about this topic.

Keep positive and safe during these difficult times, but remember this is new territory for all marketing and nobody is an expert in how to market your business during a global pandemic.