The lockdown has affected businesses in various ways. Some were deemed essential and allowed to stay open, enabling them to grow from the demand and refine the approach to social distancing. For others, it was a case of suspending all business and working remotely as much as possible.
Now that the lockdown has eased, we all are seeing the magnitude of challenges that has rippled across the country due to the COVID pandemic. But the fight for those vital customers once again is back! With non-essential retailers starting to reopen, businesses are gearing up to recapture their customers using creative marketing.
Before the opening
We cannot address the re-opening of business without acknowledging, the strategy businesses took during the closures. One of the most thought upon and doubted question during this pandemic, Was how to keep customers interested enough until businesses were allowed to reopen?
Like many businesses, fast-food giant KFC saw a huge number of customers missing their food and recreating them. Playing into that was a great strategy to keep the interest of customers. The #ratemykfc social campaign was announced during the pandemic where KFC asked their customer to remake their favourite KFC meals then share on KFC’s twitter page, where they would rate the recreation of their well-known food out of 10. This was later used to announce in a short advert that KFC is back with the reopening of 500 stores with a few of their customer entries.
— KFC UK & Ireland (@KFC_UKI) April 7, 2020
Utilising elements from the marketing strategy used during the closure could be the ideal option. This may not be the case for all businesses, but it can help develop the measures put in place post lockdown.
Finding the best balance between fun/creative and informative message method to increase interactions with your customers is critical at this time.
How brands are approaching reopening
DIY brands Homebase and B&Q chose to take an approach that is widely used by larger-scale businesses generating email and social media content. They both chose to heighten the importance of mandatory social distancing, which will keep both customers and employees safe. According to research from reputation intelligence firm Alva, this is a strategy that is helping the perception of the brand. The data collected shows that 81% of people felt positive about the approach the pair had taken, while 18% were ‘neutral’. Just 1% felt negative towards the brands.
Beloved coffee franchise Pret A Manger, are back and ready to welcome customers across the country. They opened the first 71 shops on Monday 11th May, in major cities for takeaway and delivery only.
Pret A Manger consistently reassured customers throughout the pandemic and now they’re informing customers of the changes in stores: buying a coffee has changed, with Perspex screens at the tills, restrict the number of customers in the shop, hand sanitizer for customers, and face coverings to all employees.
Pret has now introduced new promotional offers signed across its stores and online, taking the approach of the emotionally charged greeting ‘we’ve missed you..’ along with attractive £20 for 20 coffees! Which has provided be a positive way to attract new and loyal customers.
This time is paramount to keep an eye out on all the finer details that would help your customer know what is happening with your business. A quick google or Facebook search can find out whether you are open, or when you are planning to. So, keeping these updated is important to enabling you to get those customers through the door when you need them the most.
The message, as accurate as possible goes hand in hand with keeping customers and websites updated. You want to have a message that resonates with people, making them feel welcomed back. In turn, this will encourage people to support their local businesses by making them feel included in helping the community.
Additionally a great, under-used approach is to use more current platforms like Instagram’s stories, feed uploads, IGTV (Instagram’s lives streaming service) or Facebook live to connect with customers, announce new measures, keep them updated and get them excited about your reopening. Alongside your online, social, and email marketing, billboards take it another important step further to ensure everyone moving around locally knows that you are open for business.
Fundamentally, your message always needs to show empathy and gratitude towards the customers, making them feel a part of a wider community. Your reopening message could include:
- Safety that has been put in place
- Change of services you provide (shortened menu etc)
- Product/services your customers have missed
- New services or products to help the new normal