Planning Your Business for a COVID-19 Recovery

The new year has presented many businesses across the globe with new pressure due to COVID restrictions; so we have to face facts that in 2021 we might not just be recovering from COVID, but for a period of time having to actually work alongside it.

With the recent news that a new strain of the coronavirus has been found in the UK and now in other countries, it’s no surprise that this has been met with more stress and frustration for business owners.

We can no longer bury our heads in the sand and hope that everything will go back to normal in 2021. Instead, we have to plan how we can work with it, and what we can do to adapt and thrive even in the uncertain and volatile world we find ourselves in.

If you continue to just ignore COVID-19 and hope that is goes away, competitors will quickly take advantage of your silence and delve into your market, pushing you further out of business and out of people’s minds.

Now is no time to sit back and watch. If ever there was a time to be loud, proud and shouting about what you’re doing – now is that time!

Take note of key plans for your marketing recovery plan in 2021 and start actioning this advice straight-away.

Get Online

If you haven’t yet created a digital presence with a website and social media profiles for your business, then it is a do or die situation.

During 2020 consumers have done more online researching and eCommerce purchasing than ever before.

In fact, according to Google, search phrases with “available near me” went up by 100% over the past year. And furthermore, it reports that 67% of shoppers will now search for the availability of an item online before going to the store.

Even if you don’t sell consumer goods online, the virtual offering is in demand.

Over the course of 2020, we’ve seen everything go online from yoga classes, hairdressers, to education. Many small businesses have simply had to adapt to keep even a small amount of business coming through the door.

No matter your service or product, people are without a doubt searching for it online, which means you need to be in that space.

Don’t Rely on Third-Party Support

The hospitality sector has been hit the hardest during the coronavirus pandemic with reports from the BBC that a fifth of jobs in the hospitality sector has been lost in 2020.

It has been a devastating rollercoaster ride for the industry, and with more uncertainty looming in 2021, many businesses will be seeking new ways to gain custom now January is upon us.

Traditionally, many hotels and restaurants rely on third-party platforms such as TripAdvisor, Airbnb, and Booking.com to enable them to secure business. While these platforms are great to add exposure, it doesn’t help differentiate you from your local competition, and it adds to your overheads.

Too many businesses in the hospitality sector continue to lack a strong stand-alone website that enables them to secure bookings independent from other platforms.

If your website has been optimised for your local audience and a Google Maps presence you will provide strong competition in your area. By adding a simple and secure booking form, exclusive offers, customer testimonials, and great photography; you would be amazed at how many more bookings you gain through your own website rather than relying on third-party platforms.

Make Your Model Clear to Customers

It has been hard to watch some businesses in 2020 simply not get a grasped on the importance of updating their website, Google My Business and social media profiles. Some local coffee shops as an example have displayed different opening times across all of their profiles and restaurants not making it clear on their website if they are open or what services are on offer.

Customers don’t just Google; they check things while they’re on Facebook, or when they’re scrolling through Instagram. Your business will cater for audiences that have their own way of searching.

Ensure that you are not losing customers in 2021 because you’ve been lazy in updating all of your online profiles. People want to support your business, so make it easy on them to do so.

As well as updating your opening and closing times, ensure to list whether you are also doing collection or delivery of items, updated return policies etc.

Build Customer Loyalty

It’s easy to step away from social media as a business if you’re not running at full capacity.

Perhaps you think, “what’s the point”, or “it doesn’t drive business anyway?”

But let’s face it, social media isn’t just about influencing people to buy from you; it also stands as a huge trust signal to potential customers that you’re open and that there is human activity behind the brand. An inactive social profile can do your business more harm than good, as people just assume that you’re closed or even no longer in business.

If a company isn’t regularly active on social media, competitors can dominate your space on the platform, and you become lost.

Recent insights have even found that brands with an active social presence, even come across as more ‘human’ to their customers.

Now more than ever, social media is an incredible tool for having conversations with your customers, understanding what they love, and gaining loyalty.

Understand What People Want

The beauty of the digital world is how much data is available on our buying and searching behaviours – oh yes, Google really knows it all.

However, during this time where you’re trying to learn more about your customers, and the products or guidance they need the most – then this is where that data can be utilised to help you adapt and even grow your business.

Using Google tools such as Search Console, Keyword Planner, Google Trends you can identify relevant search phrases that your customers are using when searching for your product or service.

With this wealth of information at your fingertips, you can create more engaging content for your blog and social media, and even uncover product trends that could help you launch a new product for 2021.

Tap into what your customers want and start delivering that in all areas of your business strategy. From marketing, right down to improving your advertising and customer service. A customer-centric approach will help you win the day, and even 2021.

Make Your People Your Ambassadors

Your team know your product and your customers better than anyone – so now is the year to make them ambassadors.

While team morale will certainly have taken a plunge in 2020, with fear rife around job loss, and general anxiety about the virus; it’s now time to help them get involved and have their say on how to shape the success of 2021.

As people, we feel more engaged and happy at work when we are part of the solution, so bring your team in on your marketing and sales strategy for 2021. They will probably have some of the best ideas!

During 2020, we’ve already seen a few brands do great things with their people, from sharing their zoom meeting photos, to even doing take-overs from different departments on their social media profiles.

Your customers will relate to your people, and love getting to know your business at a deeper level.

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Author: Zak Jacobs

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