Coronavirus has brought on a previously unthinkable challenge for small business owners, but there is light at the end of this tunnel. Here in Pensacola, retail businesses and restaurants have begun to reopen.

As we begin down the road to recovery, it’s important that we all continue to follow CDC guidelines to stop the spread and keep our communities safe. While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for small businesses faced with the challenge of rebuilding, there are some best practices that you can employ to make sure your customers know you’re thinking about them and to get them thinking about you.

Be Transparent

This crisis has affected everyone in some way. Customers are looking for ways to support small businesses, but they want to know they’re helping where there is a need.

You don’t need to open your books to the world, but sharing the ways in which your business has had to adapt to this crisis is an opportunity to demonstrate authenticity and build trust with your customers.

Step Up On Social

It’s likely you already have a presence on social media, but now’s the time to redouble your efforts to connect with customers where they’re spending more time than ever.

With families stuck at home, social media engagement is spiking.

Not only is social media a great way to share your story, it can also be the central point of communication for customers to get information about when you’re ready to reopen and steps you’re taking to ensure their safety.

Share the most current information you have about your reopening, offer updates when you have them and post answers to the most commonly asked questions in a place that’s easy to find.

Shift Sales Online

As retail stores being to reopen at reduced capacity, businesses have relied solely on in-store sales can boost revenue by selling online. service-oriented businesses like hair salons can offer git cards and deals to boost cash flows and give customers something to look forward to. Shopify is making gift cards available on all new plans and extending a 90-day free trial to all new customers.

For restaurants, Yelp is offering free advertising through June. Restaurants not already advertising on Yelp can access a suite of Yelp services for free through May 25.

If you don’t already have an e-commerce platform integrated with your website, we can help with that.

Reach Customers Where They Are

For many, staying at home means staying connected. In-home data usage is up more than 20 percent over this time last year. The biggest increases are on mobile, streaming devices and smart speakers.

As much as it might help save on expenses, now is not the time to cut digital marketing spend. People are spending more time online and are more engaged with social media than ever before. as your competition pulls back, you can step in and share your brand with new customers.

Targeted ads on smartphones and video ads on YouTube and connected TV don’t have to be expensive and can be especially effective right now.

Rework Your Marketing

The marketing strategy you had to start the year is out the window. as life has changed, so should your messaging.

Review all of your planned advertising, email marketing, and social media posts to make sure they’re not insensitive to the current situation. You don’t want to be seen encouraging behavior that could put your customers at risk.

If you don’t have a marketing strategy, get in touch.

Focus on What You Do Best

Your business was born out of one great idea. In a crisis, focus on what made you successful in the first place. as you plan for recovery, ensure that your core business operations can continue to function. Plan for how critical processes will get done if key team members can’t work. Don’t let your business rely on one person.

Serve the Customers You Already Have

When faced with a downturn, it can be tempting to seek out new business to replace what’s been lost. While the new business is certainly helpful, don’t lose sight of the customers you already have.

Your current customers are your best chance to staying afloat in the months ahead. Focus on delivering excellent service to keep them coming back. Support them now, and they’ll support you going forward.

Share What Your Business is Doing to Help

In difficult times like these, your customers are more likely to engage with and share positive stories of what your business is doing to help. Whether that be making masks, donating meals, or putting your employees’ health first.

Appleyard Agency Pensacola FL Marketing and Advertising Blog Tiptoeing into Recovery Volunteer

Show that your business cares and is helping to improve the situation however you can – not as a way of artificially generating goodwill, but to genuinely demonstrate that your small business is an important part of your community and is engaged in the recovery.

Plan For The Long Term

Establish a plan and stick to it. You want to be able to project a confident and measured response to your customers. They want to hear that you have a plan and are taking steps to ensure that your business is here to stay. Avoid making hasty, drastic changes while so much is still unknown.

That said…

Be Flexible

No one knows how long it will be before life is back to normal. stay informed about the reopening strategy locally and at the state level. Take it slow and be ready to adapt to new information. Don’t lock yourself into a strategy that becomes untenable with new information.

And remember, we’re all in this together.

About Will Isern

Will Isern began his career as a journalist, working eight years in Pensacola media before joining the Appleyard Agency in 2019. Now he works daily to help agency clients craft and share their stories with the world.

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