Welcome to the Conroe/Lake Conroe Chamber’s Professional Business Development Online Series, or PBD Online for short. Our first season’s episodes are dedicated to “Communication In Crisis” – as we navigate the uncertain times surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and how Conroe businesses will not only survive but THRIVE despite adversity.
Our second blog of season one is highlighting the best practices to a strong re-opening after a crisis such as a pandemic.
Before we even begin, don’t put the cart before the horse. Don’t devalue the importance of your timely, consistent, and quality communication with your customer base NOW, in the midst of adversity. Having that beacon in the proverbial darkness fosters loyalty as you start again after a catastrophic event. If you aren’t sure how to plan and maintain those communications, check out the first episode in this season of PBD Online.
Many folks aren’t sure exactly what to be saying right now when plans can’t be made and the future is uncertain, so let us make some suggestions. This is a great time to highlight your preparations for your re-opening, showcasing the precautions you have taken. Talk about the cleaning and adjustments in protocols you have made for customers AND employees. This is also a great time to push for local loyalty before and after the guidelines have been lifted, as small businesses are the lifeblood of any economy. If you have reached out to the community in creative ways, this also can help you stand out and reflect your dedication to your community. If you have been fixing meals for first responders, sewing masks for people, share that! This will keep your location top-of-mind when its time to venture out.
In a similar vein, we could all use some good news right about now. Provide some levity in the form of funny photos, memes, or comical videos, while maintaining some sensitivity, of course, to bring a smile to someone’s day. And ultimately, ensure that your website, posts, and other communications project a sense of hope; that your business is here for its customers and here to stay, despite these obstacles.
Now, here is the opportunity to really have some fun, cross all your T’s and dot your I’s when it comes to pulling off a re-opening celebration at your store, restaurant or venue. Conduct a contest to be the first customers back in the store, and tack on a giveaway. Create a sense of urgency and excitement to start shopping locally again. Host a cookout when we can congregate in larger numbers in your parking lot or in partnership with a neighboring restaurant. Orchestrate a street festival or outdoor concert for the businesses and venues that have missed out on regular foot traffic. Get creative with your neighbors and work together to prioritize local loyalty when this is all said and done.
Last but not least, plan ahead to have a special “thank you” coordinated for those who chose to patronize your business after the event. Whether it’s a discount on their purchase then and there, a free appetizer or dessert to use the next time they stop in, a buy one, get one free offer to bring a friend, or a small, inexpensive token of your appreciation as they leave, any of these will go a long way. It is said that people who are appreciated will go above and beyond what is expected and that anecdote applies here too. Customers will have a lot of choices when we’re out and about again – so make sure they know you are grateful that they chose your business.
We hope that this short blog about “Communication In Crisis” sparked some ideas for you and your business as we all navigate these uncharted waters together. To recap, make sure your communications are strong DURING the crisis with moments of truth, authenticity, and levity. Use this time to plan an exciting and fun re-opening event to stoke the fires of dedication to local business and dig your heels in to provide for your community. And finally, show your gratitude for those who have chosen your business over others when every business owner out there is scrambling for attention and their market share.
If you have questions about the Conroe Chamber and how we can help, drop us a line at Conroe.org. Tune in again for Season 1, Episode 3 of PBD online as we discuss how you can and NEED to really maximize your social media presence as a customer service tool through crisis and beyond. Until next time, shop local, support your chamber, and stay vigilant!