It has now been more than two months since the government ordered businesses to close and we entered a new, strange, environment of uncertainty. Understandably many operators continue to be consumed by very practical and valid concerns such as financial aid and retaining staff, as well as considering what the future might hold. However, it’s really important that business owners are looking at different re-opening scenarios and building plans to drive as much revenue as soon as is feasible. Although it may feel counter-intuitive to invest in marketing and social media at this time, there are a number of reasons it’s a crucial component for businesses even at a base level.

 

Keeping customers engaged

Hospitality is a competitive sector that operates with marginal profits, therefore it’s really important to stay front of mind with customers to ensure they are visiting from day one of re-opening. In the absence of being able to physically engage with customers coming through the doors, this can to be done via awareness campaigns activated through relevant marketing channels.

There has been so much fantastic innovation coming from the sector that we can be proud of, from revenue driving initiatives such as development of delivery kits and e-gift vouchers through to less sales driven work such as sharing consumer friendly versions of recipes to remind customers of the business USPs. These are all fantastic examples for keeping customers engaged with a brand and to remind them of why they were a customer in the first place.

 

Keep comms open to reassure your customers

We know the public are feeling worried by the threat of COVID-19 and the mixed messages being sent out by a myriad of different sources. It’s really important, at this time, to continue to reassure customers. In particular, when thinking about phased reopening customers will want to know the additional health and safety precautions being taken by an operator. Different channels should be considered here to communicate the work you’re doing to ensure you follow good hygiene, such as be having clear signage onsite as well as sending newsletters, creating flyers to accompany delivery orders, and of course promoting through social media channels.

Customers will also want to know when you’re going to re-open and what this might look like. If you are planning to launch takeaway ahead of restrictions being fully lifted, or perhaps planning a menu change, this is all really important to communicate to your customers so they know what to expect when they are able to visit you again.

 

Consider the content you’ll post and adapt to make it work for you

Normal social media content strategies should be considered and revised to suit the current climate. We’ve found that a lot of our clients want a more open two-way dialogue with customers than ever before. Social content asking how customers are feeling is great, but this time can also be used to help shape decisions by asking customers questions such as what they would like to see on future menus.

Further to this, content that is usually used for marketing and social media might not feel relevant, such as posting about interiors, and operators should be mindful to this. Evergreen content that can be used, such as images of menu items, should be adapted to the here and now and could include notes on takeaway, recipes, and upcoming menus for example.

As a portion of the public find themselves furloughed, social media usage in particular has grown and there is a unique opportunity here to make customers feel heard while simultaneously gathering intel to strengthen operations around re-opening.

 

Take opportunities to revise strategies 

For operators who have no revenue stream currently, or indeed an active working team, this downtime is at least a good opportunity to work on a future marketing strategy alongside other business components that fall to the bottom of the pile during normal operations. This is a key time to analyse who your target audience is, does this match your actual audience? If not, how do you get from A to B? What are the key USPs of your business, and are they being communicated to your audience? What marketing channels are being used and to what effect? There is a rare pocket of time here for operators to sit back and take stock, and consider what needs to be changed in the future.

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