During COVID and the ever-changing landscape of businesses during this pivotal time, it can be hard to know what your customers need from you. Do you add to the pile-up of COVID emails? Do you pretend nothing is happening and go on with business as usual? What is your responsibility as a business navigating COVID?
We have worked hard here at Hot Dog Marketing to try and answer this question ourselves. Our team discussed what our response should be, and we moved forward trying to do the best we could for our clients and by proxy, their clients, during this time.
Find the Best Way You Can Help Them or Communicate with Them Quickly
The first thing we tried to do was to reach out to all of our clients to ensure we were addressing their needs for their businesses during the pandemic. The way this affects you will be different than us most likely. In our case, it was making sure everyone had a message that addressed how COVID-19 was affecting their business on their websites, social media, and email if they chose.
Ensure They Know How COVID-19 is Affecting Your Business
We did let people know via our website and later via our newsletter how COVID-19 was changing our operating procedures. Mostly, this consisted of our team working remotely and all meetings being held via video or teleconference. This meant more internally than externally with a little bit of adjusting to communicating more via Slack, less by stepping into each other’s offices and just less of our team being together.
Get Ready to Work Remotely, for a While and Tell Your Clients What to Expect
Fortunately, we were accustomed to Slack communication and had good processes in place for the way we work online. In anticipation of the possibility that we would not return to the office soon, we added more meeting links for more people and reinforced our online communication standards. The best thing you can do for your customers is have standards in place for handling common scenarios that will arise and give your team the technology to do so while COVID restrictions are in place. Learn from what works and what doesn’t and adjust along the way. But, most of all, choose a path and stick to the plan as much as possible. Too much back-and-forth confuses your team, and your customers.
Keep Your Customers in the Loop
As things change at the state, county, and city level, you may not know what to expect from week to week, so you’ll need to be sure to keep your customers in the loop about what is going on for your business in the midst of regulations. Will you return to your business location when restrictions are lifted, or will you continue to exercise caution and pause your return? What requirements will you enact when you do return? How do these affect your customers?
No Amount of Communication is Too Much Communication, but NO Communication is Too Little
When it comes to COVID and your business, don’t leave your customers out in the cold. They should know how each twist and turn affects your business. If you have the ability to continue functioning despite being away from your business, and you have let your clients know it won’t affect your performance, then you’re good. However, if this isn’t the case, then you will need to continually update your customers in every way you can and every time things change. Be it website, email, or social media, covering your bases is not something you should ever have to worry you are doing too much of. Communicate away!
Most of All, Your Customers Want to Know How They Can Support You
If your business is affected negatively by the COVID-19 restrictions, let your customers know what you need to sustain your business. Now is the time your community can be there for you, and they want to be. Whether you’re a salon, a barista, a restaurant or business that relies on retail, your most loyal fans will be there for you. Get creative, find alternative ways to bring in funds, and ask your customers to be there for you. You may be surprised by the response.
Having strong marketing channels in place in the midst of a crisis can give you a leg up and a direct line to your customer base when things go sideways. We’re here to help give a little direction in challenging times with our Zig When They Zag video series.
I’m a mom, a small business owner, and I’m a marketing professional with over a decade helping businesses with their branding and online presence. When I’m not spending time with my family or on my business, I love cooking (and eating) and snuggling with my dogs while I binge on TV shows. My favorite authors are Malcolm Gladwell and Steve Martin. My favorite movies are L.A. Story, Little Mermaid, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and Trainspotting.