Back in March 2020, the UK went into lockdown and the whole country virtually stopped. The impact on business has been huge. We were just creeping back out (arguably too fast for some) when the second wave of coronavirus hit and we’re now seeing restrictions come in once more. Lessons should have been learned from the first wave, but this time, things are slightly different and should be easier on businesses to cope. Here’s a view on what businesses should be considering as subsequent lockdowns approach.
In a recent piece of research, we asked businesses across the UK, of various sizes, what their main concerns were about the impact of COVID-19 on their organisation. Unsurprisingly, fear was prevalent in the responses we received:
It’s important to acknowledge fear as an emotion. We all feel fear at some point; it’s understandable that people are feeling it in relation to their business right now.
I believe that by acknowledging our fears around our business at this time, we can become empowered to deal with it and move forward. Ultimately, being paralysed by fear is the least helpful thing. Sometimes you just need to hear how you, or others, have moved forward before, as a reminder. So let’s look at what we know today.
Don’t underestimate the strength you’ve shown in getting through the first wave. Your business may have been negatively affected, perhaps with a loss of revenue, staff or both. But you’re still around. You’ve worked hard to get through and you’ve done it– you can do it again.
Did you change some of the products or services you offer? Did you change the method of delivery? Did you pivot entirely? Whether you reverted back to how it was, or you continued to offer new things, these are possible to continue to offer, or to offer once more. You know how to produce and deliver– downtime should be minimal.
What feedback did your customers give you about how they were doing? Maybe they’re feeling it again. If you communicated with them on this, consider doing it now. We offered additional help and support and I had many a personal phone call with our clients on how they were. It has cemented relationships and made our bond stronger– honestly, with some at quite a deep level. Stronger relationships are hard to break– that’s helpful when times are tough.
Let’s get practical: here are types of activity you can do now, whether you are in lockdown or not (but particularly if you are).
Take stock quickly. Understand what is going to be affected and mitigate. If you had resumed in-person services, work out how to transition back online.
Tell your customers what’s happening. You really don’t need to issue an email stating you’re all working from home again, unless that is relevant to delivery or communications. Even more so if you have never stopped working from home. People will be getting plenty of unnecessary emails, they don’t need yours adding to their cluttered inbox. But if there is a different way of doing something, you must let them know and set new expectations– most people are very forgiving of change if they know about it in advance.
Continue to sell. Do not let this virus get the better of you. Sure, confidence may dip, but never apologise for selling what you do; it’s how the economy works.
Of course I would say this. Here, though, is the logic.
You cannot afford to allow people to forget who you are. Out of sight truly is out of mind– we don’t have the memory or attention spans any more (well, I don’t anyway). We’re bombarded with so much information, it’s easy to be attracted to something we see and veer off towards it. When times are a little tougher, looking for alternatives rises.
One fear you don’t need to have is a fear of how to market or what to say.
If restrictions mean that you literally cannot provide what you normally do, talk about your customers, your community, your team and how wonderful they are. Keep people connected with the human element in your business. Support others– if you’re in a bricks and mortar location, consider shining a light on the other businesses around you. Effectively, go into super-community mode.
Should there be a pause in what you can deliver while you make changes, start talking now about what’s coming. Treat your new/revised offering as a launch. Gee people up, explain what’s coming and how great it will be. Update your website with new information. Create excitement on social media, counting down the time until you’re good to go.
Over the last eight months we’ve noticed an increase in the performance of written content– perhaps people have more time to read. Blogging your way through these restrictions is another great way to connect with your target audience and can be useful resources going forward.
Finally, now is a good time to try something. A new approach, a new product or a new way of promoting your business. How about getting on camera and explaining what’s happening, visually? Maybe you’ve always fancied yourself as a podcaster and would relish the chance to talk to more people about your industry. There are so many options available to you that many companies (still) don’t take advantage of.
It may fail, but one thing is a racing certainty: if you don’t try to market your business at this time, these next few weeks and months will be a lot harder.
I’m not a doomsayer by nature; we can get through this period, but things are likely to get testing for many businesses. In moments like these, it can be helpful to have someone at your side, offering advice, taking the strain. We’re perfectly placed to work through these times with you, using our own learning from the past few months to help your business absorb some of the shocks and put you in a stronger position on the other side.
Get in touch to start a conversation with us about how we can help.