Corona Virus Communication Plan
by Jolita Abromaityte
The coronavirus has dramatically impacted our lives, which may likely, never be the same. People’s behaviors have significantly changed and continue to do so, affecting both our personal and business lives. Sadly some businesses were forced to close down, others were able to pivot and adapt to a crisis like these New Jersey restaurants (and many others across the world) or these Chinese companies. Although not every single business is able to shift, every single one is able to adapt how and what they are communicating during this time.
Since we’ve been in the lockdown for a little while, by now you must have received a ton of email updates on what everyone is doing, how their businesses have changed, what measures were put in practice to protect you, their valuable client, and special discounts you can use to buy something you probably don’t need (at least right now).
So as everyone else has completed their Coronavirus updates, have you done yours? From email outreach to social media, now is the time to get working on your communication plan. And if you think that spending time on your social media is the last thing you need to do - think again! Now is the perfect time to focus on social media, particularly because social usage has increased due to lockdowns. We're not talking about promoting yourself like crazy. We’re talking about letting people know you are there and subtly sharing your message. Here are some tips on how to adjust your communication and plan for the future.
Review your adverts and adjust them to reflect the current climate. If you had to close your physical store, stop inviting customers to visit and meet your friendly shop assistants. Instead, direct people to your website and social media channels to check your fabulous products and get advice from your ready-to-help staff. If you’re a manufacturer and the trade just isn’t there right now, or you are unable to get the goods to maintain your production line, it might be worth stopping adverts until the dust settles.
Review your social media calendar. Postpone the posts inviting people to come for that1 year anniversary, instead invite people to join in celebrations online, by hosting a virtual party. Review and update all posts, try to refrain from aggressive selling, instead focus on offering help and education to your audience. I.e. provide tips for people (relative to what you do) that they can do at home. We’re currently running a #30WaysToFresh campaign for our client Fresh Express, where each day we’re inspiring customers to stay physically and mentally fit. Join in here
Rewrite your blog posts. Provided you write a blog (and if you don’t you should, because it boosts your SEO, builds relationships with existing and new customers, and helps you to show off your expertise to name a few advantages) review your older articles and see if you can repurpose them by updating and making content relevant to the current climate.
Think outside the box. Can you offer a free delivery option for your business that had to shut their physical premises? Most restaurants are closed, but they are still allowed to operate a takeaway service. If you had to close your restaurant and were able to offer a delivery service make sure your customers know about it. Run an advert and update your social media posts to inform your customers regularly with new and interesting updates.
Create an external and internal communication plan. Think of all the parties you’re usually communicating with, like your suppliers, partners, employees customers. Prepare a plan of communication to keep everyone informed. Email is now more important than ever, so if you have been working hard at collecting email addresses, now is the perfect time to put them to good use.
Educate and offer real value. In some cases customers have stopped buying, in others - you are just not able to produce, whichever of these categories you fall into, you can use this time to build relationships with your existing customers and attract the new ones by educating them and offering real value. Perhaps you can make a specific course free or if you’re delivering a service - you can offer a free initial consultation? Remember, the way you make your customers feel now will go a long way once the trade starts picking up.
Not everything has to be about coronavirus. People still want to learn new skills and some might have more time to do so during these unprecedented times, so don’t stop inspiring and educating them. Keep on providing valuable content.
Think long term. Now might be a good time to invest some hours into producing “future” content that you always wanted to do, but never had the time to focus on, like writing that e-book or creating a video tutorial. Think about your content in the long-term, prepare something that will be timeless and still relevant in the future.
Calculate your cash flow in multiple scenarios. It’s likely that your revenue stream has already been affected. Create several case scenarios so you know what’s coming. Detail best case, average, and worst-case scenarios. A word of caution, when thinking of the “best case” you’ll probably no longer be forecasting an expansion or growth, but focusing on steady cash flow. Carefully review and detail how long you can run the business with each case scenario and create contingency plans. If you can last less than 6 months, you need to figure out where to save/cut costs without completely going under.
Accept things may get worse. No one knows how long this will last or how bad it will get. It’s normal for people to feel anxious and scared, so now is a good time to think ahead and make a plan of action and communication. That way if your worst-case scenario happens, you aren’t left in a panic gasping for air.
Learn from it. The current crisis (no matter how bad it is) will pass and things will get better. Life may not be the same, but it will get back to normal, even if it’s a different normal. So once that happens, it’s a good time to reflect on what has happened and what you can learn about your business, its weaknesses, and strengths. And you don’t need to wait until “it’s over”, no doubt you’ve already had to shift your thinking and adapt. So start documenting what you've learned and new processes you've implemented, this will be useful for how you conduct your business in the post-lockdown future.