How Businesses Can Prepare For The Next Phase Of COVID-19
With weeks of social isolation behind us, many of us are finally starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. As cities across the country slowly start to reopen, businesses big and small are preparing for the next phase of this pandemic which will allow brick and mortar businesses to get a small slice of their normal back. While the conditions in which they’re allowed to open will change week-by-week, there are many facets of this “new normal” that businesses still have to prepare for.
No matter what size your business is, the next phase of changes are coming, which means your marketing strategies have to reflect that in the days and weeks to come. As businesses start to slowly reopen across the country, here’s how businesses can prepare for the new normal:
Get Your Communications Plan Ready Now
One of the biggest revelations to come out of this pandemic was how unprepared many businesses were with their crisis communications. According to statistics, only 62% of companies have a crisis plan. Ask any publicist and they’ll tell you that’s far too low a number in an age that’s all about brand image and reputation. Zero plans mean scattered, disorganized and last minute communications not only to your own team but your customers as well. And while no one could have predicted the impact COVID-19 would have on 2020, having a plan gives you greater control over crisis situations and gives your team a framework to work off of so nobody’s left guessing on who’s responsible for what and how to communicate it.
For many businesses, this will be a huge lesson learned and one we can take into this new phase of the pandemic. If you still have the luxury of time on your side because your business hasn’t fully reopened yet, now is the best time to come up with your communications plan. What should it include? Figure out what all the FAQs will be in relation to your business once you reopen (even partially), such as:
- Any new hours
- Details on curbside pick-up (if applicable)
- Details on product delivery (if applicable)
- Stock quantities of popular items
- Updates on any giveback programs you’ve implemented since COVID-19 to support frontline workers or any other vulnerable populations
- Newly implemented policies you’ve introduced to keep customers safe
Answer as many FAQs as you can and figure out the strategy on how you plan to deploy that information through social media, newsletters, your website or other marketing channels. The more FAQs you answer ahead of time, the more time you’ll save yourself down the line trying to answer them reactively.
With new changes comes more questions! Luckily with a communications plan in motion, you’ve already cut yourself some of the work. But the questions will continue coming so it’s important to try your best to be responsive so customers are always in the loop. If you’re looking to save yourself a little more time and headache, especially on social media, here are two great tools to use:
Instagram Quick Replies – this feature allows you to template answers for commonly asked questions. This way when followers flood your DMs with any of those FAQs, you have those answers accessible and ready to use in one tap!
Facebook Messenger’s Automatic Responses – answer FAQs instantly with this feature! All you have to do is set up the answers and Facebook Messenger will use them as soon as it gets asked. While it doesn’t help answer more complicated customer inquiries, it does save you the time from answering the same FAQs repeatedly.
With government conditions changing every week, it’s possible that answers to these FAQs might change as well in response to that. Be sure to revisit them weekly to ensure they’re as up to date as possible!
If there’s anything we’ve learned these last couple weeks, it’s the ability for things to change day-to-day. Whether it’s changes for the better or worse, be sure to revisit your communications plan weekly to ensure it aligns with everything going on around you and make any changes as necessary. Be sure to follow the news and socially listen to the online conversations happening within your digital community so you can respond accordingly. The last thing you want is to appear tone-deaf to your audience to what’s going on around you, which has the potential of hurting you more than the pandemic itself. Until we’re completely out of the storm, stay flexible with your marketing and communications efforts.
Keep It Real and Human
People like to support people. One of the most heartwarming outcomes of lockdown is the humanized approach many brands and businesses have decided to take on social media. Instead of polished, curated feeds, for the first time in a very long time many brands and businesses decided to show a more human side of themselves by showcasing the faces that work for them behind-the-scenes.
Whether it was the staple Zoom team meeting screenshots, quarantine outfit selfies, a Tik Tok challenge or behind the scenes look at how your business has been able to give back to their community during these tough times — circumstances gave us permission to keep it real. The results? Stronger audience relationships and engaged digital communities.
Even with social distancing policies slowly loosening up, the need for human connection is still there in the digital space and your community still wants to see it! Instead of rushing back to perfectly planned feeds, showcase your “new normal” through you and your team as a way to stay more connected to the community you’ve developed online these last couple weeks. If there’s one thing people love more than brands, it’s the people that work behind them. And the more they know, the more they’ll champion you and that goodwill is priceless!
When we look back to the start of 2020, no one could have predicted how COVID-19 would disrupt industries and put countries in almost complete pause. And while there’s still a lot of unknowns heading into this phase of the pandemic, the more prepared you are for it from a marketing standpoint, the more in control you can be in your approach. No matter how the next couple weeks unfold, we wish all businesses the best of luck as they transition into their new normal. Let’s hope this is a true sign of brighter and healthier days ahead!
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