Businesses, especially local and small companies, greatly rely on their community and loyal customers to thrive. However, over the past few months, the pandemic has had destructive effects on small businesses, interrupting their channels of communication with the community and making it difficult to remain present.
If you have been operating a business over the past months, you might have also had to deal with the various and sudden lockdowns, as well as unexpected restrictions and interruptions. However, now there is time to plan and prepare to face the months ahead with more confidence. The pandemic’s consequences and its effects are not bound to disappear soon, but you can plan and create alternative ways to keep your community engaged and loyal.
The strategy you opt for does not have to be limited by your budget – there are some ways that can help your business stand out without impacting being so costly. Start with the ones below!
Engage with the Community
As we have seen, small businesses rely on their surrounding community much more than larger corporations with increased audience reach. Indeed, if you are operating within a small town or city, your business will actively become part of the surrounding community. And, just like your customers need you to operate and provide your services, you need your customers to help you thrive. Hence, cultivating community engagement and customer loyalty is paramount.
Over the past few months, communities have also been hit, and we are all trying to recover together. During such a delicate time, it is crucial for your business to be there for the people around you. Therefore, you might decide to get involved with charity events, donations, or sponsorships. Or, you might decide to provide free services to the ones in need.
While these might be small ways to help, your community will remember what your business decided to do using such hard times – especially after this challenging period is over! So, your help can transform into future sales and stronger customer loyalty.
Use Social Media Channels
Communities are no longer only physical! Today, you can cultivate support and loyalty also through other digital channels, such as social media platforms and handles. Whether your business is only new, it has been developing over the past years, or it is a historical component of the town, make sure you are fostering a digital community.
Additionally, social media channels provide you with the unique opportunity to create a unique communication channel with your customers, and without having to tap into your budget. Through platforms such as Instagram and Facebook, you can expand on your brand, communicate your values, and display the projects you have taken on to better the community.
Additionally, you can directly speak to your audience through direct messages and comments. These represent a great and safe way to communicate when your business doors have to be shut because of lockdowns or restrictions.
Don’t Forget to Keep Your Website At Its Best
When trying to manage a business through a pandemic and see it thrive, it is crucial to identify those resources that can be helpful. For example, certain technologies and software can help you streamline your customer relationships and even improve productivity.
However, before introducing such innovations, it is crucial to evaluate your website. Indeed, your business’s site is among the most important tools you have to create a solid relationship with your audience. Through your website, you can communicate the values at the core of your brand and any upcoming projects that you wish to take on.
The majority of consumers today see visiting a website as the first step to take in their decision-making process. Without a website, it is possible for your brand to miss out on important business opportunities. And, when creating your site, you will need to keep in mind what are the crucial aspects that move your audience. Today, it has never been as important to have a website that is fast, reliable, responsive, and intuitive. And, of course, you will need to create a continuum between it and your brand!
Introduce Extra Delivery Services
Some small businesses are aiming at expanding and taking on new customers, while others are designed to remain small, family-run, or local in nature. If your business belongs to the second category, you might have perfection in your marketing strategy and product line to fit your business aim. Nonetheless, the market and the economy has changed, and it is crucial for all businesses to adapt accordingly to remain competitive and thrive throughout the months ahead.
Therefore, even small businesses should consider implementing an eCommerce site or offering extra delivery services. Through these options, they can continue operating no matter what restrictions or bans are in place. Naturally, delivering your products or services is not always an accessible or suitable option. However, through planning, you might be able to offer a valid alternative that allows you to secure an extra revenue stream even if the doors of your businesses have to remain closed.
Some Software Can Help You
Now that your site is at its best, and you are considering delivery options, you might also look into how other technologies can help you foster customer loyalty. While you might not be able to speak face-to-face with your audience, you can use certain software to increase your reach and always be there for your customers when they need it the most.
For example, introducing web chat software allows your customers to enjoy a direct communication channel that they can use whenever they need it the most. Such software snakes it accessible for your science to communicate with you regardless of the device they are using or where they are. So, you won’t need to miss another opportunity to be there for them!
Use Your Newsletter
If you have always loved to run a newsletter, this is the best time to put more effort into it and create a private channel of communication between you and your customer. Your newsletter might include everything you wish to communicate: it might be seasonal discounts, a story, or just an extra way to check in with them.
When creating a newsletter to keep your audience engaged, remember that there are many businesses using this technique, and the competition can be extremely high. Therefore, it is important to find alternative ways to attract your customers’ attention.
Some tips for creating a great newsletter include:
- Create an individualized message for each customer
- Create a newsletter specifically for your target audience
- Offer them something (a discount code or a step-by-step guide for a project)
- Acknowledge what is happening and reassure them that your business is there for them
- Make it personal
- Don’t forget to let them know about upcoming projects, products, or offer
- If your business had to close down because of your local restrictions, use the newsletter to let your audience know where you will be back in business
- Let your customer know that they can access your services or products through your eCommerce store (if you have one).
Retrain Your Customer Service Team
In the case of a very small business, you might be the manager, the HR team, the accountant, and customer service. However, if you have employed someone to look after this incredibly important role, it is important to train them to respond correctly to the customer issues that they are bound to face today.
You might have instructed them to follow a precise template in the past. However, today, some of your customers will be frustrated or more unhappy. In such cases, it is crucial for your teams to know exactly what to do to ease the situation and find a way to turn such stressful experiences into a positive one.
It Is All About Communication
Whether you have all of the methods seen above available to you or you are still in the process of completing your digital transformation within your business, it is crucial to keep communicating with your audience. Over the past few months, various restrictions have come and gone, and they have caused a series of disruptions to businesses. By keeping your communication channels alive and efficient, you will be able to let your customer know updates regarding their orders and your business.
Create Offers and Discounts
The pandemic has not been kind on any small business, but your customers might have also suffered its effects. With less money coming in and some necessary expenditures to face, they might not have enough disposable income to afford the products or services you offer. It is important for businesses to understand the difference between a lack of loyalty and dramatic changes in the market.
Therefore, you should consider implementing some discounts and offers that your customers can use to come back to shop at your business once they are back on their feet. You can deliver such offers through your website, newsletter, or by hand – just don’t forget to set the expiry date far in the future!
Team Up with Your Community
While your business might have suffered the consequences of the pandemic, it is crucial for you not to isolate or fight other small businesses in the area. After all, we are all facing the same issues! So you might decide to team up and create partnerships and alliances. Together, you could offer a discount card to use at various locations or a reward scheme – find your win-win situation!