Engaging with your potential and existing customers during this period is vital, regardless of whether you’re open as normal, limited to serving your customers remotely, or completely closed for the duration of the lockdown.
The current social distancing restrictions will change shopping behaviours beyond the lockdown period. Keeping in touch with your customers, listening to them, being an active member of your community, and ensuring they’re aware of your offerings through this period will put you in a far better position when restrictions start to be lifted.
All high street businesses should be maintaining relationships with existing customers and making sure they can be easily found online by prospective customers during this period.
It’s important not to underestimate the potential of building a healthy online presence, as this can have profound impact on the reputation of any business, large or small. Making it easier for people to find your business will have a direct impact on your sales, as people prioritise comfortable, time-efficient and seamless shopping experiences.
You can make your business easier to find online by:
- Reviewing how your business is presented on your website and any listings online
- Understanding new keyword trends to focus on for SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
- Finding new ways to educate and entertain customers through your social media channels
Although online presence is important, don’t forget to look after your physical shop! Having a dynamic shop window will get people talking or inspired whilst they shop for essentials or go out for their daily exercise, even if your physical outlet is closed.
All of this has a role to play in making sure businesses cultivate a positive reputation.
- Offering special promotions for elderly, vulnerable, self-isolating and key worker customers,
- Sharing how your business is responding to COVID-19
- Showcasing your team and offerings
- Engaging with customers through email, online groups, and video
For businesses focusing on new sales channels, having an effective marketing plan to promote your new offering (whether it’s local delivery, click & collect, reservations, virtual events, or something else) is essential. A wide range of channels should be considered, such as:
- Email newsletters
- Social content campaigns and paid adverts
- Carefully targeted SEO
- Traditional local media to attract new customers
Each business should develop its own unique plan for engaging existing and prospective customers across all marketing channels with compelling messages and experiences that help to build a close connection between your business and your local community.
There are dozens of different ideas to consider in relation to this goal alone, from starting a blog to using paid advertising, redoing your shop window regularly to making use of local print, and more.
In addition to marketing during lockdown, the other goals that we encourage all high street businesses to work on are:
- Reducing your business costs
- Selling through multiple channels
- Collaborating as a high street
- Preparing for the future
- Funding your business
Here at SaveTheHighStreet.org, we are now running 12-week COVID-19 support programmes for local high street business owners, working closely with each business to develop and implement a highly personalised plan that considers every possible idea across all 6 goals listed above.
This is our most hands-on support programme ever and aims to give as many local businesses as possible the best chance of success on the high street, for now and for the future.