I wanted to make a little slide show about reopening here in Florida. We’re at stage two, but I know many people might not be open yet, or you’re just in the early stages. So here are five things to help make reopening a success for you.

Now reopening isn’t going to be necessarily easy. Customers of brick and mortar businesses are going to be very wary about being in enclosed spaces with strangers. Regardless of deployed health and safety protocols, they’re just not going to be comfortable. Digital businesses, you’re going to have your fair share of problems even though you remained operational during the shutdown. Both digital and brick and mortars are going to find it difficult to increase sales with so many people facing lost or limited income. But we still need to do everything that we can.

Five things that you can look at when you’re reopening:
1. Update your online business pages
2. Make some noise about your reopening
3. Give customers a reason to visit (of course for the brick and mortars)
4. Be inclusive
5. Use your content marketing

First, update your online business pages. When the shutdown happened, many people updated their Google my business profile along with their social media and their websites. The first thing you want to do is get in there and change it all back to what it was previously or what your current reopening phase dictates. You want to make sure that those new hours and protocols are in place. Make sure everything is up to date and accurate. Pay special attention to your Google My Business profile; there’s an area for COVID updates. You can put notice regarding the measures that you’re taking to respect social distancing and hygiene protocols.

For example, my acupuncturist had notifications alerting you to wash your hands when you arrive, wear a mask, and wash hands when you leave. You do this, so you don’t shock people. For another example, when I went into my optometrist office, they had one of those thermometers shaped like a gun. They kind of just pointed at the center of my forehead so they could make sure I was healthy and safe. They also had me sign a waiver saying I wasn’t in contact with anybody who was sick and that I released them from any liabilities in any even that I got sick from their location.

You don’t want to scare people when they do come out and visit your brick and mortar. So just make sure that all that information is there for them to bee kept in the loop.

Second, you’re going to want to make some noise. After a long period of confinement, your store probably will not be the first place that your customers think to go once they’re allowed to go out and about again. Nope, they’re going to go out and visit family and friends. So you want to remind your customers of your existence and promote that you’re open.

If you have an email list, you’re going to want to send emails, letting them know, “Hey, we’re open!” Do lives on Instagram and Facebook. Show them that you’re there, at your brick and mortar at your store, and show them, “Hey look, we’re back!” If you made any changes during that time, go ahead and post about that. Schedule out your social media posts, so you don’t forget to do them. Just take a morning and set a bunch to go out celebrating the fact that you’re opening. Create custom graphics for your social media covers and blog posts. Canva is a great resource! (I know I talk about Canva a lot and no, I’m not an affiliate.)

Now, those are things that you can do if you don’t have a budget. If you do have a budget, consider running ads on social media and Google. Right now, your advertising dollar will go a long way because some businesses have stopped advertising. (Which is the one thing you don’t want to do when the economy is starting to slow down; you should advertise more.) Another thing to look into is SMS campaigns. SMS campaigns are the texts you get to your phone from businesses that you’ve signed up to receive. I get one from my favorite Mexican place, you know, two for one margaritas. If you have an email list, it’s possible that you already have people’s cell phone numbers. Direct mail is another option. Not a lot of people do direct mail anymore, so there’s a little bit of room for a competitive advantage. The biggest thing to strive for is staying in front of your audience.

Third, if you are a brick and mortar, give your customers a reason to visit. You want to take it a step further and maybe think about organizing a post lockdown promotional offer. Some ideas might include a store-wide discount, perhaps to your email list, send them exclusive vouchers for being VIP customers, a buy one get one free offer or a Markdown on specific products. You can also think about having some sort of training or demos with limited engagement with limited numbers so that you are adhering to proper social distancing. Do a few scheduled reopening events with giveaways so you can accommodate people in small batches. Remember to make these incentives the centerpiece of all your marketing. These might be just the thing to entice people to come out and visit your business.

Four, even though you’re doing all these cool offers and in-person events, make sure you’re sensitive to those who are not ready to get back to normal. Lockdown might be lifted, but the pandemic is still going on. Don’t be too surprised if there are people who are reluctant to venture out and about or go to your store. You want to make sure that you’re sympathetic to the needs of these people, and you also want to make sure that you’re catering to them. Anything you did during the shutdown like if you started e-commerce or virtual or curbside delivery offerings, continue doing it. Don’t isolate a particular segment of your audience. You’re going to need both of them, those who are venturing out, and those who are not. So make sure you’re doing business both in-person and digital/delivery.

Five, if content marketing wasn’t your strong point, now more than ever is the time to ramp up your efforts because we still have some economic turbulence in our future, and you need every advantage with attracting and maintaining customers.

Content marketing can be anything. It can be the words written in an ebook, the story within a video, your social media, and your blog content. I know whenever I say “Blog,” everybody says, “Ewww!” But it’s not that bad. You can maintain a blog easily with two posts a month. You can take those two posts, break them down a little bit, and share it all over your social media. Content marketing is so valuable because it presents you as an expert in your industry and gives you helpful information to share with your audience, reinforces brand, and keeps you at the forefront of their minds.

Previously, I said to update your Google my business profile; you may want to take it further and optimize it. Fill in all the fields, add updated pictures, and make use of the section for posting specials and deals. It would be silly not to as it is free.

Make sure you’re active on your social media. Keep up with your lives and posting. You don’t necessarily have to post on every social media site. Know your audience and know where they’re at, only post on those sites. Be consistent. If you’re posting on Tuesdays and Thursdays, always post on Tuesdays and Thursdays. If you have an email list, make sure that you’re sending regular email newsletters. Consistency is key. To have and grow an email list, you need to collect email signups. You can do this both digitally by having a lead magnet or in-store by collecting during checkout. So you want to make sure that you’re maintaining that contact list because that gives you a more person to person contact versus relying on social media alone.

Finally, if you’re not comfortable with content marketing and don’t even know where to start, I have an entry-level course to get you moving in the right direction, www.courses.kindawonderful.com/contentmarketing.

This was my COVID lockdown “special project.” Everybody had their particular projects. Some people were finishing furniture, and some people were doing things around the house, others learned how to knit, and some learned how to play guitar. I learned how to take and edit videos!

The course I made has 19 videos, a coursebook, an action guide, a cheat sheet, useful tools, and a Google sheets marketing calendar.

I wish you all success in your openings!

Sarah

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