As countries gradually lift their COVID-19 lockdown measures, many small businesses are getting ready to reopen their doors to the public. But as you know, this isn’t the kind of standard reopening you’d have after the holidays or your annual vacation.
If you’re one of the many store owners who’ve had to close their doors, the lifting of lockdown measures is your opportunity to return to “business as usual”.
But it’s likely you’ll be dealing with a lot of “unusual” – which, of course, is going to take some careful preparation.
You also need to consider how you’re going to adjust your marketing strategy.
To help you navigate this transition, we’ve compiled a list of five marketing actions to ensure a safe and effective store reopening post-lockdown.
1. Prepare your store for social distancing
The easing of lockdown measures unfortunately doesn’t mean the end of the pandemic. As you plan to reopen your store, the safety of your team and customers needs to be the top priority.
After all, if customers feel safe in your store, they’ll be comfortable to stay and shop.
This is where you need to show them how you’ve gone above and beyond to ensure their safety.
Here are some basic steps you can take:
- Limit the number of people present in your store at any one time. If possible, have an employee regulate traffic at the store entrance.
- Make sure you and your staff have a stock of personal protective equipment such as masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer. If possible, make these available to customers too.
- Apply social distance markings on the floor, especially at cash registers to help people queue up safely.
- If possible, protect your cashiers with plastic hygiene protection screens.
- Encourage contactless payment methods and limit the use of cash.
- No hand-shaking – no matter how happy you are to welcome back your most loyal customers.
- Put in place a stringent disinfecting routine.
Depending on where you are in the world, it’s possible that failure to comply with such measures could lead to your store being fined or closed again.
Getting a business back on its feet is challenging enough, the last thing you need is a run-in with the authorities. That’s why it’s essential you take the time to inform yourself of local and national regulations when planning your store reopening.
2. Update all your online business pages
An obvious but crucial step in the marketing plan for your store reopening is making sure all online information is up to date and accurate.
If customers want to know if you’re open, you can be sure they’ll go looking for that information online first. Now’s the time to update your online channels.
Update your website, social media profiles, and most importantly, you Google My Business profile.
It’s easy to overlook or forget about your Google My Business profile, but this should be your first port of call. Why? Because this listing is the very first thing people see when they Google you, so you want to make sure it has the most up to date information.
Updating your profile is easy. Google has lots of resources available for businesses affected by COVID-19, including short tutorials when you need to update your information quickly.
So, what kind of information needs to be updated ahead of your store reopening?
- Your opening and closing hours
- Your contact information
- A reminder about the measures taken to respect social distancing and hygiene
3. Run digital marketing campaigns to advertize the reopening
It’s time to let your customers know that your door will soon be open once again.
After a long period of confinement, your store probably will probably not be the first place your customers think to go once they’re allowed out and about again.
But what you can do is put marketing communication campaigns in place before then so that you’ll be top of mind by the time the lockdown is lifted.
These campaigns will remind customers of your existence and promote your reopening. Here’s some of the things you can do using your digital marketing channels:
- Email marketing: If you have email marketing set up for your small business, then send a newsletter to all your email subscribers. Email is a great way to get important messages directly to your customers’ inboxes.
- Schedule social media posts: Get creative in your messaging – you can even record a video message for a more personal touch.
- Announce your reopening using custom cover photos on your social media profiles. You don’t need to be a graphic designer for this. You can easily whip up some custom graphics using free tools like Canva.
The above methods are free but if you have a marketing budget to spend, here are some other ideas to promote your store reopening:
- Run ads on social media and Google
- Send an sms campaign
- Send a direct mail campaign (e.g. postcards)
And of course, there are non-digital methods to getting the word out about your store reopening such as adding a sign to your window and good old word of mouth. Get your friends and family to help you spread the word far and wide!
4. Organize a special promotional offer for your reopening
If you want to go a step further in getting people back into your store, organize a post-lockdown promotional offer.
Some ideas might include a store-wide discount code, email vouchers, a ‘buy one get free’ offer, or a mark-down on specific products.
Whatever it is, put it front and center of any marketing campaigns for your reopening. Lots of people are going to be hesitant about doing any shopping at all so this might be the incentive they need.
Email marketing is great for these kinds of promotional offers – even the simplest email newsletter campaign can be highly effective. Set up is easy, costs are low, and the conversion rate is high.
To give you an idea of the relationship between email and promotional offers, 19.31% of participants in a survey carried out by Sendinblue indicated that they’d only subscribed to a brand’s newsletter to receive discounts and special offers.
What’s more, 38% of those surveyed admitted to having bought a product advertized in an email newsletter in the past three months.
Don’t miss this opportunity to send your promotional offer directly to your customers’ inboxes. To get people in the door, you can make it so that any vouchers are only redeemable in-store.
And if you’re in the market for an affordable email provider, Sendinblue’s free plan lets you send up to 300 emails per day.
5. Offer a solution for customers who don’t want to go out
Lockdown might be lifted but the pandemic is ongoing. Don’t be too surprised if people are reluctant to venture out and into your store.
This is where you need to find other ways to sell your product to this audience. Ecommerce (i.e. selling your products online) is one possible solution for you. Check out our complete step-by-step guide to building an ecommerce website to learn more.
Or you might have a simple phone-in and deliver service for the locals. Whatever your set-up, don’t forget to communicate this alongside your reopening information.
That way, people are aware of all the different ways they can do business with you – both in person and from home.
Use digital channels to the benefit of your physical store
As you prepare your return to business, we recommend that you make the most of your digital channels.
If digital marketing wasn’t your strong point pre-COVID, now’s the time to ramp up your efforts and make the following digital actions a priority for your small business:
- Maintaining an up to date and mobile-friendly website
- Optimizing your Google My Business profile
- Having an active presence on social media
- Sending regular email newsletters
- Collecting email signups both digitally and in-store
Not only will this help you stay competitive in the long run, but you’ll also be better prepared for any other lockdown situations.
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