The country is once again under a national lockdown, meaning your business has to adhere to new restrictions on your activity.
While this makes for a rocky start to the new year, there is also an opportunity for a new beginning, a chance to make changes to your processes and get to grips with new technologies.
Here’s a few tips that should help you get a strong start and keep the momentum going throughout 2021:
1. Keep marketing
While we learned many important things from the first wave of coronavirus restrictions, our main piece of advice is that continuing your advertising is the best way to keep your business top of mind with local customers.
A survey taken by our business customers during the first lockdown, found that consumers showed 27% higher intent to spend money with those who had continued advertising, than those who did not.
This health crisis will not last forever, and continuing your advertising efforts now will ensure you’re in a strong position when normality resumes.
2. Create a marketing plan (and stick to it)
In times like these, you need to be able to respond to change in real time. And now that you’re continuing your marketing throughout the lockdown, a healthy marketing plan will help you make the tough decisions.
If you want your marketing to boost sales, it’s best to plan out what you want to say (e.g. highlighting sales, new products or community work your business did during the pandemic), when you want to say it (e.g. Valentine’s Day, the Spring Bank Holiday or Christmas), and from which platform. A marketing plan will bring clarity to your business practices, allowing you to focus more clearly on your advertising content and the wider marketing strategy.
Check out our planning guide for further tips on planning your marketing from start to finish.
3. Communicate any changes
In the next few months, people are likely to be exposed to conflicting information and want to know how their favourite brands are combating the crisis.
If your business wants to assure its customers during periods of uncertainty, you need a clear and open approach to connect with them.
Make sure your phone number and email address appear prominently on your website and across your advertising content. If there have been any changes to your working practice, such as delivery options or online orders, make this clear in your verbal and online communications with customers. Once the restrictions are lifted, it’s essential your contact information and opening hours are all up-to-date.
4. Demonstrate your social conscience
Companies and organisations are transforming in the wake of the pandemic, and pivoting to offer more than just what they sell. Social impact is now at the forefront of every brand’s thinking, driving the tone of their messaging and the focus of campaigns.
Many local businesses in particular have gone above and beyond to help their communities. Take the former site of this Yorkshire colliery,for example, which will soon create 100s of jobs for local people, or this Blackpool hotelier who opened up his doors to the world with the UK’s first digital nomad hotel.
Your own business doesn’t have to do anything too drastic. Offering discounts for frontline workers or contact-free deliveries for those who are vulnerable, are small but great ways of not only adapting to the crisis but showing the human face of your business.
5. Try something new
A new year and a new national lockdown is the perfect time to try something new in your business.
A good place to start would be digital advertising. Now that people are spending time at home again, advertising online is the best way to reach them.
Just ask our readers! – during the first lockdown our own online audience grew by 41%.
6. Review last year
A lot of businesses saw their goals disrupted over the last year, so take the time to consider the lessons that you can learn from 2020.
Although doing business during a pandemic has been challenging, this has forced businesses to become more adaptable and resilient – which is not a bad thing.
Consider how your business can become more agile, prioritise relationships and trust, and embrace innovation. Introducing delivery and online orders, for example. could open up opportunities and unlock new, key audiences.
Look ahead to the future
While you should continue to take things day by day, it’s important to look ahead past these difficult few months. Envision what you can do for your business, both in the short-term and the long-term.
The beginning of the year is a key time to prepare for 2021 and beyond. Through appropriate training, open communication and marketing planning, you can start off strong and be more than ready for a great new year.