The phrase ‘unprecedented times’ has been bandied around almost constantly since we began the lockdown period, but it hasn’t lost its meaning.
Whilst only essential workers are leaving their homes, and the majority of the workforce has either been furloughed or are now working remotely, businesses have taken a huge hit – in every direction imaginable.
There has, however, been a noticeable increase in the awareness and support by consumers for small businesses during this pandemic. As a new ‘normal’ is established, its key for business owners to keep in touch with their audiences in a relatable and relevant way. Whilst the likelihood is, this may not mean ‘selling’ their brand, its important to try to remain connected, and even just to check in with their community. Here, Opus Energy, the renewable energy supplier to small and medium businesses, has shared a few tips on how to keep your audience engaged during this pandemic.
Embrace your social audience
For the majority of people, one of the few constants that is successfully bridging the gap between our lives before the lockdown and now, is social media. As we stay in touch with our friends, search for advice and keep entertained, social media users are engaging more than ever, meaning there has never been a better time to explore or audit your social media channels.
Consider using this time to work out what your audience is looking for and what they’re sharing. Is there a way you can get involved in a genuine and authentic way or can you offer advice or tips? It’s vital any content you share is relatable and tonally relevant to the current situation, so make sure you’re not just pushing your product, especially if you know it won’t be front of mind. Some options include offering competitions or sharing sector specific advice.
For example, if you run a gardening business, share short and snappy ‘how to’ videos that resonate with your audience who are likely looking to make the most of the sun hitting their gardens, may hit the mark. Alternatively, if you’re a hairdresser, consider home hair dressing tips for those struggling with their hair maintenance.
Also, look to make the most of social platforms; try experimenting with stories, ads, different styles of content, different social channels or even influencers. Find out what works for your business and what creates the most engagement. This will ensure that your brand is still in the mind of the consumer, even if you are not running BAU.
Discover your local community
During this pandemic, business owners are finding that many traditional forms of communicating with their audiences, such as direct mail or flyers, are suddenly out of reach. But there are viable alternatives, as people are looking to connect with their local area now more than ever. Consider joining regional Facebook groups and looking at other businesses that are in the area. Are there any you can partner with to increase your offering and potentially increase your audience? Is there a way you can support the local area, either through your business or personally? Ensuring you maximise the local community support that is on offer, is increasingly important at the moment.
Adapt your strategy
If your product or business has become even more relevant during the pandemic, look at how you can expand your communications to ensure both your potential and existing audience are aware of what you can offer. If you’re struggling due to the restrictions in place, consider the possibilities of pivoting your strategy slightly. For example, if your business is usually focused on a physical service, why not look to see if you can take it digital? If you can, set up an online store and start delivering your products, ensuring you are following all of the social distancing guidelines, and your employees are taking all necessary precautions to be as safe as possible. Though this might involve some financial investment up front, it could work to ensure there is still cash flow and that you can recover post-pandemic. If your business is niche but in demand, this could be a great opportunity to offer a service that might not be available elsewhere.
Look to the future
Its vital to keep in mind that this will end and though there are no definite timelines just yet, it is possible to look at what you need to do when the restrictions lift. There are still ways to intrigue your audience with future offers, so you could consider suggesting vouchers, recommend future bookings and if you can manage it offer ‘buy now pay later’ schemes to customers who may have been furloughed or have smaller incomes than usual.
Whilst these tips should help towards ensuring your audience stay engaged and could also see your business reach a wider audience, its crucial to keep in mind that you are communicating the right messages, at the right time to the right people. Keep the current situation at the forefront of your mind, and work hard to not appear tone deaf, as consumers will run in the opposite direction if they feel as if a business, no matter the size, is either missing the mark, or putting themselves before their staff or the public.