We are all in limbo as the world deals with this worldwide Pandemic, it’s something we have never dealt with before. If you are like me, you are worried about the short term and long-term impact on your business. How are we going to get those customers back in the door? NOW is the time to start planning your recovery, you probably have time on your hands, so be prepared to jump into action as soon as things start coming back! The following are some ideas and links to additional articles to help!
1. Have a Business Plan!
Too many people take a “wait and see” approach, but that is dangerous and makes it more likely that you will miss key opportunities as things come back online. Review your business plan, or if you don’t have one or have never done one, create one! The US Small Business Administration is a good place to start if you need help. You can link to their guide on business planning here: https://www.sba.gov/business-guide/plan-your-business/write-your-business-plan
2. Contact your existing and previous customers immediately! (Let them know you are back in the game).
- Direct Mail is a great way to do that, unlike an email, your customer will at least give it a look over, and there is a chance it will hang around on their desk. Take your existing customer list and send them a post card or letter. Make sure to include a “call to action” in the form of a special, discount or freebie. Focus on things that will help them coming out of this. I got a postcard from Lands End offering a 40% discount through the end of March, I saved that one! Just make sure that you are the first name that comes to mind when they need your product or service!
If you don’t have a list, we can target your prospective customers by demographic, income, children at home, homeowner/renter, credit rating, interests, and/or hobbies. You name it and we can probably find it! We can also use Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) to target every address within a carrier route, this method has reduced postage and no need to purchase a list. If you would like a free copy of our Direct Mail White Paper, just email me at email@example.com and I would be happy to send it to you.
- Call (Yes, on the phone)! As we are all experiencing a reduced work environment, as things ramp up there will be unique opportunities to catch people with a little more time to talk. Business Owners may be answering the phones themselves as they may be dealing with reduced staffing levels.
- Email them. I prefer the first two options, but I will be doing all three as we start back up. Keep in mind, email is not as popular as it once was. Make sure you have an interesting subject line and have good content to engage your target. I’ve received SO MANY Covid-19 emails from my suppliers, that I decided not to join that trend. I read the first one or two and then have been deleting the rest.
3. Review Your Customer Experience. What do your customers see if they visit your establishment? …a first Impression can be key!
How is your Signage? Is the sign in front of your business in good shape? Does it light up completely at night? Is the vinyl cracked or faded? A clean, vibrant sign is an indicator that you are in the game! We can help you with cleaning up the face, replacing vinyl, or updating the look. And our sister company YESCO Sign and Lighting Service can help you with internal lighting, fixing channel letters, retrofitting your sign to LED (which makes it brighter!) and even Neon!
- Temporary or Removable Signage can help announce that you are ready for business! Keep in mind that for banners, balloons, flags, etc. you will often need a temporary permit. Each business can typically display a banner for 60 days out of a year. PIP can help you make sure you are meeting any local requirements. The following are some ideas:
- Banners: Now come in all shapes and sizes, but as mentioned above, there can be some size restrictions, make sure you know!
- A-Frame “Sandwich” Boards: You can put these out in front of your business, and typically, as long as you remove it at the end of each business day, there are no required permits.
- Window Signs/Posters: With suction cups in each corner, these are easy to self-install, and since they are not permanently affixed to the window, no permitting! They can be printed on both sides to promote to your customers and passers by. We do them for a number of restaurants.
4. Check Your Online Presence.
- Review Your Local Directory Listings. Make sure you don’t have any bad reviews, and if you do, respond to them! Start with your Google Business Page. Facebook now has business pages, they may have already set up one for you if you haven’t done it yourself! Yelp! Bing and Yahoo…and more. Check out this list of the top 100 directories https://www.vendasta.com/blog/top-100-online-business-directories . You probably don’t need to do all of them, but some of them may be industry specific to your business. If you are a restaurant, you probably want to watch your Grub hub listing!
- Take a Look at Your Website. I like HubSpot’s website grader https://website.grader.com/home. Also from their blog, a great article to review is: “14 of the Best SEO Tools for Auditing and Monitoring Your Website in 2020”, I’m going to be taking a close look at this myself! Also, is it optimized for mobile devices, most searches these days are happening on phones. If you are not sure, just pull out your phone and look up your own website! I pay attention to mine and have gotten jobs from as far away as England!
- How are you using Social Media? This is different for each business, make sure you have a valid reason for each channel you choose to spend time on. Be where your customers are. Right now we focus on Linked-In and Facebook. Be careful, this can be a time black hole that does not return a lot of results if you are not careful.
- Are You Using Video? While we don’t do a lot ourselves, when we have a good reason to, we do. You can check out a time lapse of us wrapping one of our vehicles here: https://youtu.be/jIvZ_TH1r_c. Even if no one watches it, the search engines love to see video on your website. Put it on YouTube and link it to your site. Demonstrate how to use your product, or new ideas. Do your customers call with questions that a “How To” video would help with?
- Start a Blog…or Get Back to Yours. A blog works best if it is attached to your website, the below linked article from Forbes reports that businesses with blogs receive 55% more business than businesses without blogs. Provide relevant information that helps your customers, and they will appreciate it! Write articles on success you have had and how you have helped your customers be successful! See this great article from Forbes, “7 Tips For Creating A Conquering Small Business Blog”
Hopefully, we all get back to “business as usual” soon, but then again, maybe we can do something better than “business as usual” if we take advantage of this time to change and improve a few things about how we do business!
– By Dale Bohman, Owner PIP Printing & YESCO Orlando South, contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org