You're (Still) Open: How to Connect With Your Customers as an Essential Business
In cities and states across the country, shelter-in-place and other social distancing orders have been enacted to try and slow the spread of the recent, historic public health crisis. In many communities, businesses have been forced to close unless they’re deemed an “essential business” for the community.
This means that plumbers, electricians, dentists, healthcare offices, and even automotive and landscaping businesses are allowed to remain open while others must close their doors. If your business is one of the operations deemed “essential,” it means you have a leg up in weathering the financial storm battering the U.S. economy. But it also means you’re under pressure to reach your customers and let them know they can count on your business during these times of uncertainty.
So if you’ve been given the green-light as an essential service, you need to stay connected to your customer base and let them know you are (still) open for business, even if being "open" looks a little different these days. Here are some tips to help you connect with customers during a time of crisis.
LEAN ON SOCIAL MEDIA TO HELP SPREAD THE WORD
With regular day-to-day life grinding to a halt, consumers are constantly on the hunt for the latest information about their communities. Social media has become a powerful tool for helping essential businesses spread the word that they’re open for business—even when those specific services have to be altered to accommodate public health concerns.
Restaurants, for example, are using social media to post their revised takeout and delivery menus, which can be updated much faster than a business website. Similarly, consumers are using social apps like Nextdoor to ask questions about which businesses are open in their neighborhood. Get active on these platforms and stay in constant communication with your followers—this is one of the best ways to remain visible during the current public health crisis.
ALERT YOUR EMAIL LIST
Email is a great channel for communicating with customers past and present. Use email updates to tell your customers that you’re open for business, and also to announce new updates to business operations based on changes brought by the public health crisis.
If you want to take email engagement one step further, though, consider how you can craft an email that’s both entertaining and helpful to recipients—even if they don’t have an immediate need for your business. Lead with empathy, but don’t be afraid to showcase your brand’s voice and personality. And consider offering tips to help customers tackle some of the basic problems they may be facing: lawn care companies could offer basic tips for trimming bushes or adding fertilizer to grass, for example, or plumbers can offer some basic advice on how to troubleshoot the cause of a clogged drain.
Keep in mind that whenever you’re communicating to your customers, you should strive to deliver as much value as possible, and take into account the personal concerns they are dealing with at this time.
CREATE A QUICK AD TO PLUG INTO YOUR TV CAMPAIGN
Your customers are watching more TV than ever. Now is the time to reach them - but your message should be updated to reflect the current situation. This could present a challenge. Full-scale, professional video production may not be feasible given the current constraints facing normal business activities. But desperate times call for desperate measures.
If you have a smartphone, a well-lit space and a microphone, that's all you need to spread the news that you’re open for business. Advertising partners like Cox Media can help refine your footage into a patchwork TV spot that gets the job done! In normal circumstances, this DIY approach to TV ads is not ideal, but in these challenging times, customers will understand that you’re only working within your limitations and staying connected - in whatever ways possible - to your customers is what matters most. Just look at the DIY productions for late-night TV shows on network channels: Even though the production value is lower, you can still deliver an effective message.
REACH OUT TO EXISTING CUSTOMERS WHO MAY NEED YOUR SERVICES
Many companies are taking extra steps to reach out personally to customers and clients and let them know they’re open for business. If you’re a local lawn care company, for example, you might message last year’s clients to see if they’re interested in resuming business this spring and summer. Auto shops, meanwhile, can use their customer records to contact past customers when the records suggest they’re due for an oil change.
If you’re a B2B company, you likely have a smaller list of clients that makes it more practical to reach out to other businesses with a simple phone call or email. When you do make contact, first address the customers' needs or concerns, and then (if appropriate) encourage that person to spread the word to other people who might benefit from your products or services. In this current period of uncertainty, many consumers are leaning on word-of-mouth information to help them connect with the services they need.
The “essential business” designation can be a game-changer for your company, but only if your customers know you’re open and ready to serve. Once you’ve received this distinction, take an all-hands-on-deck approach to get the message out to customers who may be in desperate need of what your business has to offer.
As an essential business owner (and business owner in general), you are likely faced with many conflicting priorities at this time. When you're ready, Cox Media is here to be your media partner and build a plan that helps connect you to your customers now and build relationships with them for the future. Click here to get started.