Getting Back to Business: Adapting to a "New Normal"

July 30, 2020 Cox Media

Getting Back to Business: Adapting to a ‘New Normal’

The COVID-19 pandemic changed regular business operations for almost every company in the United States. While some were forced to adapt their practices to account for new public health concerns, other companies were forced to shut down completely to meet local and state-level regulations.

Now, many of those cities and states are relaxing their restrictions and easing back into regular business operations. Many businesses, as a result, are seeking strategies to reopen and rebuild after the disruption and economic fallout of this public health crisis. In our “Back to Business Playbook,” we outline strategies that businesses can use to reopen in a new business landscape, recover from the dramatic changes affecting both their business model and their customers’ expectations, and reimagine a new approach to building a successful business in this environment.

Here’s a look at how businesses can approach these challenges—and how advertising can help re-engage your customer base.

REOPENING YOUR BUSINESS

The reopening phase actually involves the planning that takes place prior to opening your doors. If you’re reopening after a period of closure, you likely have new operational changes you need to implement. You also need a strategy for informing your customers when you’re open for business again.

Messaging to your customers must make clear not only that you’re open for business, but also that your standards and procedures have changed. Highlight new services that you’re offering to your customers to keep them safe, including contactless pickup and payments, in-store mask requirements, and other protocols. Acknowledge customer anxieties over safety, and demonstrate how you are doing your part to address and alleviate those concerns.

Businesses should also emphasize that they’re local and independently owned. As cities and states reopen, 75 percent of consumers have demonstrated a preference for supporting locally owned businesses.

RECOVERING FROM DISRUPTION

Once your business has reopened, the next step is recovery. After you’ve been open for about 30 days, it’s time to start adapting to the “new normal” that has been established for your business.

In this context, recovery means adapting your business operations, and your business model, to better align with customer expectations and needs in the current landscape. While the reopening process involved new procedures and steps to open your doors, recovery uses the experiences of your first month of operations to implement new changes and enhancements to your business.

Ad messaging should focus on how you’ve incorporated feedback from your customers to improve your customer experience—specifically new products, services, incentives and sales that your business is offering to your customer base. It may also include operational changes, such as expanded business hours, that expand the convenience and accessibility of your business to your customers.

REIMAGINING A NEW CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE

Periods of disruption are challenging for any business. But they’re also an opportunity to learn more about your operations, and to build a better long-term business model. In the reimagining phase of resuming operations, your business should seek to use the lessons of this reopening process to implement long-term strategic changes to how your business operates.

For example, your business might decide that take-home DIY kits, which were initially developed to provide revenue during a period of restricted operations, are actually a useful service that your customers will continue to seek into the future. Instead of getting rid of this product, you may opt to retain it as a permanent fixture at your business, even after the current public health crisis goes away.

You may also choose to embrace certain business model changes that improve your resilience in the face of similar disruption in the future, such as making certain safety procedures permanent, or offering customer experiences that could be maintained even if another public health crisis struck in the future.

REPEAT WHEN NECESSARY

Even after your business successfully reopens, it’s possible that new regulations, restrictions, and public health concerns may force your company to take another step back by limiting your operations, or even shutting down entirely. No business can control the circumstances they face. But you can achieve some peace of mind by knowing that when you’re able to resume operations, you can turn to this guide once again to help guide your reopening process.

Download the full Back to Business Playbook here. 

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