Again, thanks to the NHS’s stellar efforts and the vaccination programme, the UK is slowly reducing restrictions and ending lockdown.
From Monday 29th March, the stay at home rule will end, meaning offices can start to re-open and allow more staff to return to the office.
From Monday 12th April, depending on the infection rate, we’ll see all shops, hairdressers, beauty salons, gyms, zoos, theme parks, libraries and community centres all open again. Pubs and restaurants will also be allowed to serve food and alcohol to customers sitting outdoors.
As we saw last year, reducing restrictions creates massive opportunities for all types of businesses.
Those in the service industry who have been closed for most of 2020 should expect a massive and sudden rush. Make sure you’re prepared and have thought about efficiently meeting demand inline social distancing and Covid-safe regulations.
For those businesses who have stayed open throughout lockdown, peoples habits are about to change; think about what fewer restrictions mean for your business. For example, we may see less online traffic, and disposable income might now be spent on outdoor activities instead of at home-services.
Your number one priority at this time is to prepare for change and a safe return to work. To help prepare you for a return to business, we have created an essential three-step guide:
1) Prepare for a change in behaviour
As restrictions reduce, more people are going to want to travel. Therefore every business needs to ensure it can accommodate change while operating safely.
At this stage, preparation and communication is essential. Here are some information points you should consider making available to staff and customers:
- Are you reopening the office fully, continuing to work remotely or adapting to a hybrid model?
- How many people can you safely have in your office/store at the same time?
- Do you have sufficient cleaning and PPE available?- it goes down faster than you think.
Top tip: If you haven’t already, start consulting with your employees about returning to work. Consider that personal circumstances might have changed. For example, an employees’ child-care situation may be affected.
2) Invest in marketing and PR
Marketing is an essential element of bouncing back from lockdown. 75% of consumers say that brands should inform people of what they’re doing.
Whether you have a big or a small budget, there are plenty of marketing options for promoting your business. For larger budgets, we recommend you invest in content creation and advertising. This can include:
- Google Ads
- Remarketing (Retargeting) – Getting people back to your website
- Targeted Facebook and LinkedIn advertising
In addition, and for those with smaller budgets, we recommend you focus on Social Media and Guerrilla Marketing. This can include:
- Social meida marketing
- Email marketing (think about email automation)
- Content marketing
Again, think about people’s changing behaviours. People are likely to be spending less time online and more of their disposable income in-person rather than online. Be on the lookout for changes in behaviour and prepare to adapt your marketing communications.
3) Be consistent and clear
After you’ve invested in PR and worked with your staff to return safely, you must ensure you follow through. It’s great to have handwashing stations and social distancing in place, but people may become anxious about what the protocols are if they aren’t clearly visible.
Messages about ‘safe’ have become more important as lockdown has eased. Larger brands are opting for a clear, positive, inspirational, and helpful tone over humorous, witty, or casual.
According to a study by Econsultancy: one in five consumers have actively stopped purchasing from a brand because of its response to the coronavirus outbreak. This included not providing a safe working environment for its employees.
In the same study, 62% stated that they were more likely to spend money with companies that prioritise the health and safety of their staff.
The full study can be found here: coronavirus impact on marketing, ecommerce & advertising
Without noticeable, tangible changes to improve safety, all your PR and messages will be wasted – and potentially counterproductive as it may appear disingenuous.
Finally, on a more serious note, the importance of these Covid-safe measures cannot be stressed enough. If COVID-19 gets into the workplace, everyone exposed will need to isolate, which may include some difficult conversations with customers.
To protect your business, get your cashflow going again and rebuild customer trust, don’t just give COVID-19 safe the lip service – it’s the key to ending your business lockdown.
How ETC can help
Over the past year, throughout the various stages of the pandemic, we’ve worked with various businesses to help them create a comprehensive ‘bounce back’ plan that reduces recovery time and identifies ways to take advantage of new opportunities.
All the businesses we support found that an external, experienced consultant added real value to their return to work plans. Let us help you get back to business; please get in touch.
If you’re new to ETC, why not contact us for a free new business review? We’ll spend two hours with you, giving you professional coaching and will leave you with actions for immediate implementation.