A global pandemic is definitely not what we were all thinking about starting the new year, but hear we are. And to be honest, I have been disappointed to hear that businesses and organizations are having a hard time coping. Now, that is not to say that the U.S. has not had some catastrophic set backs leaving thousands unemployed and businesses on the brink of permanent closure; but there is a lot to be said about corporations and companies who have failed their clients and employees. I know what you are thinking: “It’s easier for you to say, you have not been directly affected.” And you would be half right. There are a lot of things I would have done differently if I knew a pandemic was going to take over half of the year, but I have noticed that I am gravitating towards businesses who wasted no time to set plans in motions.
It is not a surprise to see that the media is saturated with news of multiple stores closing in 2020, but this false narrative is putting all the blame on the pandemic and not companies who were already moving towards bankruptcy and store closures. According to Kaiser Family Foundation, the majority of states in the U.S. did not have Stay-at Home orders until late March. So that got me thinking: “When were these major retailers deciding to close their doors?” Business Insider published an article about the “retail apocalypse” siting multiple name brand companies closing. As I read further, the majority of these closures were put into action in late 2019 and early January. That was before Americans even knew what was really in store for the roaring 20’s. Store closing included Victoria’s Secret, Gap, Forever 21, Game Stop, and even Macy’s. What is more upsetting is to think that these companies are trying to hide behind a pandemic, when in actuality, they had not made any changes to make their stores successful even B.P. 2020 (Before Pandemic 2020).
What has worked?
I think it is easy for people to post a “full proof” plan when it comes to this situation, but I have noticed that no one wants to be the first to screw up, but they all want to be the first to receive the biggest return. The businesses who where already set up of food delivery, curbside, online ordering, and even drive thurs (thank you Krispy Kreme) had a much easier transition obviously. Their employees new how to work and fulfill orders on busy and slow days. They were also equip with better turnaround time for computer glitches and last minute changes. Businesses having to not only navigate the new way to do business were also having to learn an entirely new system that was never on their radar to reach customers. As a Public Involvement Specialist, it is my job to forecast trends and stay up to date with how communities like to receive information and pass it on. Often when a potential client reaches out to me, they are taken aback by my proposed strategies.
“That’s not what we are used to doing.”
“We just need a simple approach.”
“Our customer base is more in-person versus online.”
“I Personally don’t like or have time for social media.”
The fact of the mater is to always prepare for a disaster, so you are not playing catch up later on. If you are a seasoned business or a brand new business always start with a strategy that does not require you to retrace steps while hitting the oops buttons.
I wanted to end this post with my top 4 suggestions that you may consider giving a try that do not cost you a THING! These minor tweaks are not about making huge changes, but adjustments that are actually sustainable. Once this apocalypse ends you want to be able to still work and grow your business, right? Quarantine is the perfect excuse to develop some new skills to improve the way you do business and reach your customers.
- Try Something New
A strategy is a must! But what people forget is that it is something that should change regularly to meet the needs of your business. Every 3 to 6 months, you should be reevaluating what has worked and what hasn’t worked. With social media metrics, it is easy to see what posts have done well, what key words promote more engagement, and what content is especially pleasing to your viewers.
Time to Decide:
How often you want to connect with them?
What you want your business personality to be?
This step cannot be skipped! As much as a tedious task this may be, it really gives you insight to what your customers and potential clients need from your business. Even if you are not a data scholar, it is important to start practicing how to interpret what numbers mean and how they relate to ROI, website traffic, potential leads, and other KPIs.
Make a list of:
Top selling products or services. What key words, images, links did you provide.
Lowest selling items or services. What key words, images, links did you provide.
What were the differences? Locations, time of posting, etc.
Once you have an idea what strategy approach you want to take it is time to build content. In my opinion, if you have good content it will not matter what social media outlet you post it on. You should be able to provide content that gets the message across no matter how people are experiencing it. And YES, having an “experience” is how consumers decide how and why they support a brand or business.
Is my content inclusive?
Does my content offer multiple ways to receive information?
How am I encouraging others to engage, suggest, and invest in my business?
#4 Try Something New
Last but not least, try something new! This is a great opportunity to get your customers involved and get instant feedback. Your business will work better when you give your audience an experience, and involving them in a new project is one way you can. This could help with potential leads and a newfound talent you never knew exsisted.
Ask your customers:
“We are trying something new, and want to hear what you think?”
“Any ideas on what you think we should try next?”
“Join us here for new content regarding reopening content.”