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2020 is ramping up to be a year none of us will be forgetting any time soon. As Canada braces itself for the fight against COVID-19. Governments are implementing strict measures to stop the spread of the virus. Mandated restrictions on certain aspects of how business can be conducted, if at all, is having a significant impact on local businesses and the economy. So what does this mean for you as a business owner?
Let’s take a look at 4 ways you can adapt your business in light of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Update all online information: Communication is KEY
Local, provincial, and national authorities are providing daily updates on the COVID-19 situation. With such a fluid situation, it is important to be up to date with the latest developments and announcements that may affect how you conduct your business. It is just as vital to communicate those changes to your loyal customers in a timely and clear manner.
Changing your hours of operation and updating contact information on your digital assets as well as posting static notices on the doors to your business will help maintain lines of communication with consumers who might be reaching out to find out how your business has been affected.
Updating online information on your website and Business Profile page about the increased sanitation processes you have included in your day-to-day will show that your business is dedicated to the health and safety of your customers. This will help build the credibility of your brand and increase customer loyalty and retention with this simple step of showing customers that your business is more than willing to add measures to improve the customer experience. Make it clear what services you are offering and how you have adapted those services in light of recent events.
Another method of client communication is informing those who have subscribed to your emails by including a Frequently Asked Questions section to answer many of your client’s concerns about how COVID-19 has affected your business and what it means for them before they are brought up. Not only does this show that your business is more than capable of taking the initiative, but consumers will also perceive your brand as one that really cares about their customers’ experiences.
You can take the communication factor a step further by transitioning from a passive role of merely informing to an active role in the community. For example, using your business’s influence to encourage your customers to pitch in. Your business could waive delivery fees and donate a percentage sold to provide masks and other personal protection equipment that the frontline workers need. Perhaps a deal where if customers ordered a specific item, a donation would be made to the food bank; the possibilities are endless. Communicating these deals to your customers, especially through social media channels, allows for a wide exposure to previously untapped clientele through reshares and businesses liking your pages. Furthermore, these types of promotions can be an opportunity for your business to contribute to the community in this time of need while branding your business with the value of customer service.
Look into Alternate Delivery Avenues
In a matter of weeks, consumer behaviour has been dramatically altered by social distancing. Businesses of all sizes are scrambling to adapt. Regardless if you are a B2B or a B2C business, industry trends are shifting towards increased sanitation and methods of social distancing are now the norm. So what does this mean for your business specifically?
It is no doubt that the current circumstances are a hindrance towards the conventional way of operating your business, but business owners are nothing but adaptable.
Every business, both B2B and B2C, will have its own specific method of adapting to social distancing; the main idea is to ensure your business finds an alternate product and content delivery avenues. For example, many restaurants are offering curbside pickup as well as contactless delivery as an alternate avenue of delivering products to customers. Employees handle their food under strict and frequent sanitation protocols and every step is taken to ensure the health and safety of their customers are followed. For businesses in the home improvement sector, providing over-the-phone consultations, virtual walkthroughs and free estimates are a way to remain in contact with customers looking to renovate in the future while maintaining a physical distance. Personal and professional services can offer live streams and other methods of online interactions to maintain services despite certain restrictions. Click here to visit our small business resource centre for more information on industry trends during COVID-19.
In regards to the content delivery avenue, let’s take a look at current consumer behaviour trends. Authorities are urging consumers to stay home whenever possible. This means static methods of advertisement (billboards, posters, ad space in public places) will have little to no effect. This opens up a massive opportunity for you to reach your market via other mediums such as direct mail, social media marketing, email marketing and other forms of advertising that can reach consumers from home.
Find creative ways to interact with consumers
Streamlining marketing initiatives leads to an interesting segway that is how to interact with your audience who are in self-isolation. No doubt, they will be on their phones more, meaning the over-saturation of digital ads will be more prominent, making it all the more important to find creative alternatives to attract and keep their attention.
The first question you should ask yourself is how do you want to position your business during COVID-19? Depending on the industry, current financial health, target market and a variety of factors specific to your particular business, it might be feasible to either be aggressive in your marketing to consumers who are isolating in their homes or to take the time to clean up internal processes and prepare your business for a post-COVID-19 market environment. Regardless of what you decide is the best course of action, you should be taking steps for your brand to be interacting with consumers, the only difference is the call to action and tone in those interactions. Some businesses may want to conserve their marketing budget and play it safe, while others may want to be at the forefront of pushing marketing at such a time because of the change in consumer behaviour. The idea is to weigh the risk and reward of each option.
If you had any live events planned – you can pivot to a digital alternative. Zoom, Hopin, and Whova are just a few examples of virtual conferencing tools you can utilize for business events. They offer a variety of creative interactive functions for your audience to use during your event to stay engaged. Certain functions include live polling so you can gauge audience reaction in real-time, live chat to have real-time questions as well as easy options to connect with others. For a full list of these tools and how you can get the most out of them, click here for more information.
Offering incentives for consumers to interact with your brand during these times of isolation can also be another method of increasing and retaining their attention. Offering limited-time free consultations over the phone or via virtual mediums or perhaps virtual therapy sessions at reduced rates are just some ways to keep your business relevant in such volatile times.
Reassess, Repurpose, Adapt
These three points are perhaps the most fundamental for businesses right now. Regardless of your business is running at half capacity, or not at all. It is essential that you evaluate your business and current assets and take a look at how repurposing financials and people-power to best suits your business in this time of uncertainty.
One idea to note when you assess such things is the opportunity of repurposing those elements. While COVID-19 does hinder the conventional business approach, it has opened many opportunities. Many have taken the opportunity to help the local community, offering discounts to frontline workers and donating equipment. These generous acts do not go unnoticed by members in the local community and when they share and comment on this, it brands your business with that value.
Labatt, originally a beer brewery has repurposed itself to produce hand sanitizers to fight COVID-19, you can read up on the details here. Harvey and Swiss Chalet have a deal ongoing where they are offering all frontline workers 50% off their takeout/delivery meals. On a local scale, offering deals that support our amazing healthcare and frontline workers in any way – is a method of adapting.
Adapting certain practices to go on a virtual setting is another form of adaptation. If you did a live launch over the conference, you can record it and repurpose the content for sales and marketing initiatives in the future! Offering discounted memberships or faster release dates on certain products may also be something to look into.
Adapting to keep consumers engaged during this time is the short-term aspect you need to consider. Long-term thinking for your business involves forming processes for a post-COVID-19 market. With daily updates from government officials, it is important to stay up to date on government resources that have been made available. Check their websites to see if your business is eligible for those compensations or benefits. Educating your employees on the transpiring events and how it will affect their day to day, and keeping your partners and community informed is a step in the right direction.
The actions you take now with your business will certainly play a major factor in defining the face of your brand. Take the time to plan how you want to move ahead with your business. Here at DRMG – Direct Response Media Group, we understand that small to medium businesses are the backbone of the Canadian economy. As Canada’s leading company in direct marketing, we are ready to rise to the challenge to support you and your clients.