2021 is gearing up to be just as challenging a year for many businesses as 2020. With many businesses unfortunately closed we thought we would revisit the purpose of customer communication and the role it can play, even in times of closure.
So, here we go….
While some businesses can switch to an online service, others can’t and it can be tempting to think that if you don’t have anything to sell right now then you don’t need to keep in touch with customers. With the stresses and strains of the past 9 months who could blame you for wanting to take a break?
But…we want you to pause and reconsider that notion. We believe that keeping in touch with your customers is more important and potentially more profitable now than ever before and could help to reduce anxiety about your business.
An old-fashioned view of advertising communications is that they must have a call to action. That view has been shifting for some time. During the Covid pandemic, with so many businesses now closed, it’s time to look again at why we communicate with customers.
No matter what business you are in, acquiring new customers and maintaining repeat custom is a result of a combination of awareness, preference and loyalty. Sometimes stating the obvious is a good place to start.
Build Awareness – Without Having to Shout
Let’s take awareness first. We might think, we are closed and have nothing to offer so we will stop our communications until we know when we are reopening – at exactly the same time, your competitors who may have found a way to adapt are still trying to get the attention of potential customers so you are falling behind.
Bear in mind that building awareness takes time but is far easier when you’re not having to compete for share of voice against all the other businesses in your industry.
If you communicate now to build or maintain awareness, your message will cut through much more easily, with less spend and effort than when everywhere is open. Not only will your message cut through more easily, but that built up awareness will also help people think of you instead of all the other businesses when everywhere reopens.
In order to stay front of mind we don’t need to ask a consumer to take any action, we just need to repeat our clear message frequently enough to be noticed, offer value (even if for now this is just your kindness!) and then you’ll be remembered when the time is right.
Build Preference – Say Something Nice Or Be Helpful
The second aim of customer communication is ‘Preference’. Being the first to come to mind isn’t always enough. A hotel might come to mind first because it was memorable for all the wrong reasons. Or perhaps the consumer thinks of two or three names to choose from. You also need to protect against an influencer (someone else contributing to the purchase decision) suggesting an alternative business.
In order to improve the chances of been selected from the list of quickly remembered options your business needs to be the preferred one on the list.
So, how do we build this preference? Of course positioning and price matter, but right now a highly effective way of building preference is to make your target audience feel good by saying or doing something nice.
Right now there is a huge need for anything that makes us feel good, something that makes us laugh or relax, and we could all do with a bit of help with something. Maybe you could share a recipe, or positive news, memories or just something amusing that has brand relevance. If any of your team are helping give back to the community at this time, that’s a great thing to share too.
How to keep in touch
The number one rule is to keep in touch and in a way that makes you more likeable than the competition. The second rule is to stay relevant and true to your brand and what it stands for.
1: Newsletters – if you already have email addresses and permission to email customers that’s great, but if not we recommend adding a newsletter sign-up to your website. Newsletters don’t need to be long and time consuming, they can be one topic short and snappy. Tracking opens and clicks is a good way to monitor their success and help you to plan future communications.
2: Social media – make sure that you are using the social media platforms that your customers use, if none of your customers use Instagram don’t waste your time on there. Social media works on algorithms that determine how many and which audience members to show your posts to. Timing, length, historical links, sharing activity and more factors all influence how many people see your posts. Tracking possibilities exist for each social media platform to enable you to see what is and isn’t working and to tweak your approach for maximum effect.
3: Phone contact – if your organisation is business to business or very high value it might be more appropriate for you to keep in touch by phone. With so many of us working from home without the camaraderie of colleagues, a phone call from a supplier to check in with how we are doing can reinvigorate flagging creativity or focus and remind a client why they choose you.
Need some help?
So, hopefully we’ve convinced you of the case to keep in touch with your customers. If you would like support with any aspects of social media, newsletter, website or marketing strategy do get in touch.