One day it was business as usual and the economy was stronger than ever. Suddenly, the coronavirus hit and business immediately came to a screeching halt. COVID-19 caused an unimaginable level of uncertainty that has impacted the economy unlike any other. Organizations across the country have seen their revenues drop significantly and have been forced to make big changes to cut costs in order to stay afloat.
As businesses are starting to reopen and look for ways to reengage with the consumer, we face new challenges in safety and finding new ways to get our products or services to our customers. How do we communicate our new safety procedures? How do we market during these unprecedented times? Where to start?
Dawn Kane, Hot Dish co-founder and CEO, recently spoke on two different webinars¹ with fellow franchise marketing experts on ways to effectively communicate with your customer that both engages and sets them at ease. Here are our top five tips to help set you up for success as you move towards reopening.
When you’re ready to reopen and reengage with your customer base, be proactive! Giving your customers what they need before they ask for it can do a world of wonders when it comes to customer relations. Now is the time to evaluate how you will operate your business with the safety in mind for your employees and customers. First and foremost, arm your franchisees with the tools necessary to communicate your plans for keeping everyone safe.
Stay agile, inclusive and responsible.
During such unprecedented times that are everchanging, it’s critical for business owners to remain agile. We have a responsibility to provide a safe environment for our employees and customers alike. Stay in tune with both the CDC guidelines and local/state jurisdictions on what is required of you to safely operate your business, and be prepared to change with the times, shift at a moment’s notice and pivot when needed. As you plan to reopen, keep in mind that your customers may want to engage with your brand differently, and you will need to be flexible in how you attend to new consumer demands as they arise.
Put People First.
Reach out with care and support, not marketing. Clearly communicate your options for consuming your product or service to provide the peace of mind your customer wants. For example, look at meeting your customers where they are by offering contactless delivery, curbside pickup and cashless payments. Explore all your options to keep franchisees, customers and employees safe and moving through this together.
Evaluate Your Marketing Materials.
Review all of your marketing materials from top to bottom. Budgets are tight and it’s tough to get any photo shoots completed at this time, so take advantage of what you already have in your library. In your review process, be sure to look at both consumer marketing materials as well as your franchise development marketing materials.
Start with a careful look at the imagery used throughout your collateral and advertising. Stay away from photos that show large gatherings, handshakes and hugs. With social distancing in place, your customers may feel that seeing these types of images are inappropriate, which could cause ill will for your brand.
Be sensitive to the language being used in all of your ads and collateral. Speaking to these unprecedented times keeps your brand relevant and builds loyalty and trust with your customers. However, don’t be afraid to stay true to your brand voice so customers recognize you and feel safe about doing business with you. Pet Supplies Plus does a great job with using floor decals inside their stores to illustrate a safe distance for customers to stand apart from one another. They use large floor decals of a Great Dane, a breed of dog that can measure up to seven feet in length, and on-brand messaging that says, “Stay a Great Dane’s Length Away.”
Communicate Your Commitment Repeatedly.
In these unprecedented times, you can’t communicate enough! Keep your franchisees, employees and customers in the loop on your efforts to provide a safe working and shopping experience. Once you have your plan in place, share it across all of your marketing channels—from your website to social media, eblasts and texts; and don’t forget to include this messaging in your in-store collateral and window signage.
As frequent as you share, be sure to also respond quickly to customer questions or comments that arise on your social media channels. Being completely transparent with how you’re addressing these issues keeps your entire customer base in the know, building trust and loyalty.
No matter what type of business you have, or if it’s B2B or B2C, we’re all going through this journey together. The challenge lies in our ability to stay proactive and remain nimble to adapt as quickly as things change. As we navigate our way through to the other side, we should be mindful of what works and what doesn’t to better prepare ourselves for the future. When we come out on the other side, we’ll all be a lot smarter and a lot stronger.
If you’d like help in auditing your marketing and advertising, or crafting your messaging plan, we’re here to help. Complete the form and let’s work through this together.
¹ Listen to the “Franchisee Toolkit to Win” webinar recording here and the “Customer Communications that Engage and Set at Ease as Franchise Businesses Move Towards Reopening” webinar recording here.