Dan Beldowicz of CMA.

With social distancing restrictions being lifted, the question is now how to start over. Businesses that were forced to shut their doors or alter the way the work due to COVID-19 now have to figure out how best to get back to normal.

To help businesses relaunch, Daniel Beldowicz, director of business development at West Windsor-based strategic marketing firm CMA, leads a free webinar on how to relaunch your business on Wednesday, June 10, at 12:30 p.m. Register at www.cmasolutions.com/webinar.

Beldowicz recently addressed the topic in a post on CMA’s blog.

The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc across the world. As stay at home orders are lifted and business resumes, there will be a “new normal.” How will you navigate the new landscape as restrictions are loosened? What will that mean for your company? How will you reboot your business?

Restarting will look different for all businesses as companies open at different times and in different ways. Companies that have stopped or paused marketing during COVID-19, as well as those that were completely shut down or were operating at limited capacity during the pandemic will need to develop a strategy for relaunching. That will mean rebuilding a digital footprint, as well as the brand’s online presence.

Your marketing strategy may have worked well pre-COVID-19, but now you need to do some fine-tuning. That means taking a holistic approach and reexamining your SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis as part of your overall marketing strategy. Then scan the new world for opportunities and threats. View your business through your customers’ post-COVID-19 eyes. What do they want to know? What is preventing them from making a purchase or visiting your business? Do you need to consider a digital expansion to accommodate people who are shopping from home?

Offering the same services to your former clients will likely not cut it. The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed many new threats to businesses — more than were ever imaginable. As you relaunch your business, take advantage of what you’ve learned from the global pandemic. Use it as a time to set your business up for success. Take stock of your weaknesses and use your restart as an opportunity to eliminate them.

A successful relaunch means communicating with empathy and acknowledging the new norm. Start by recognizing the changes that have occurred and then determine how your business can adapt. Look for gaps or needs that your business can fulfill to regain and grow your customer base. The post-COVID-19 world is a different place, and there are several steps that businesses need to follow to ensure a safe and successful relaunch.

How to Prepare for the ‘New Norm.’ While this pandemic is forcing many new behaviors on customers and businesses, including a shift in mindset, many companies will miss an important step when relaunching. They will continue to market using their same, familiar marketing practices, failing to pivot to a customer-based mindset.

As we navigate the new normal, everyone will be looking for the next big thing, which will lead to a small evolution in the world of marketing. The end of lockdown will not mean a return to the “old normal.” The post-COVID-19 focus will be on removing obstacles for your customers. Digital will continue to grow and the new normal will focus on meeting customers where they are.

Companies that were furthest along on the digital transformation journey prior to COVID-19 will be able to rebound and adapt to new customer demands more quickly. If you haven’t moved your brand online, now is the time to do so. Having an online presence will help you sell more by keeping you connected to your customers.

For many businesses, the post-COVID-19 relaunch is an opportunity to adapt to evolving trends and consumer demands. More businesses will accept payments online, setting up new delivery systems and procedures to make it easier for contactless payment and pickup.

Prepare for the new normal now. Start by communicating your offerings or reposition them to meet your customers’ needs. Businesses that were able to maintain marketing efforts to strengthen relationships with clients throughout the crisis will likely have an easier time rebounding. With a deeper customer connection, they will have a clear understanding of their customers’ challenges, constraints and demands and will be able to tailor offerings for a successful rebound.

As you reboot your business, be transparent and communicate how you are restarting. That will be key to making customers feel comfortable in trusting your business and returning to your physical location. Roll out messaging that addresses your audiences’ concerns about safety, as well as expectations for new goods and services. Continue to communicate with empathy and let your customers know how you are keeping them and employees safe by adhering to new health and safety protocols.

Survey the Landscape: 3 Steps to Create Your Relaunch Plan. Start with your employees. Have a brainstorming session with your team, after all they know your business the best. What ideas do they have for relaunching? What is their comfort level in returning to the office? How could your services be re-imagined?

Ask your existing customers and vendors what their expectations are regarding returning to your physical location. Get a feel for their safety concerns and address them. Ensuring they feel comfortable returning in-person is crucial to relaunching.

Engage in industry networking groups. Find out how your peer companies are relaunching. Joining a group discussion with like-minded individuals and entrepreneurs is a smart investment of your time. As part of the relaunch, companies will need to build trust and communicate with transparency to both customers and employees. Your reopening is an opportunity to rebuild and create a better future.

Once you’ve surveyed the landscape and know what your customers’, employees’, and vendors’ expectations are, there are some tactical solutions you can start implementing to prepare for the relaunch. Think like your customers and mimic their behaviors as you plan your reopening.

Four Strategies to Pave a Successful Comeback. Leverage your social media channels to communicate with your customers, clients and prospects. Communicating with transparency is going to be key in reestablishing your business, getting existing clients back, as well as attracting new customers.

Use your website to announce your reopening, as well as new operating hours, guidelines or capacity limits. Include updates about how you are keeping your employees safe and how your sanitation efforts have ramped up.

Use email marketing to let your customers know that you are open for business. Your email list is an invaluable tool and the most cost-effective way to relaunch.

Deliver compelling content and continue to serve as a resource. Share video tips or tutorials, offer webinars and free, downloadable resources.

COVID-19 changed the psychology of marketing and the rules are being rewritten. With changes in purchasing trends — less luxury splurges and more of a focus on consumables and services — consumers are doing most of their shopping online and through mobile devices. The pandemic has caused a power shift to consumers — consuming better instead of more and patiently delaying purchases and waiting for discounts or price drops. With people spending more time on screens, making online purchases and forging digital connections there are countless opportunities to re-envision your business strategy to deliver on your brand promise.

Marketing is the Engine that Sells. During times of crisis and uncertainty, it may seem that marketing is obsolete, but it is quite the opposite. Time and time again history has proven that companies that continue to advertise and market during economic downturns bounce back and relaunch quicker than those that halt marketing operations. Marketing is the engine that helps to sell your products and services by attracting new customers and moving them through the sales process. Behind every crisis, there is an opportunity for growth.

Following the global pandemic, digital marketing will continue to evolve, playing a pivotal role as businesses relaunch. That means your digital footprint, the way you make your first impression with a customer, is more important than ever. Your company needs to show up in search engine results, on social media and in your customers’ inboxes. If your digital presence doesn’t meet your customers’ expectations, they are unlikely to do business with you.

Now more than ever, consumers are leveraging mobile devices to do research prior to making a purchase. And a mobile-first user experience is an absolute must. Your digital presence will ensure consumers know you are open and ready for business. That means your website and social media channels need to be maintained, monitored and updated regularly.

Post-COVID-19 Roadmap for the Future. As part of your relaunch strategy, consider your company’s roadmap for the future. Are you set up to easily pivot if another crisis arises? Establishing a crisis management strategy should be a part of your strategy as you plan your foundation for growth and recovery. That means updating your SWOT analysis to include a backup plan, so you are set up to pivot in case of another crisis or even a second wave of COVID-19.

In any crisis situation, you need a strategy for how you will adapt as circumstances change. Remember the actions you take, reflect your brand. Taking the right actions and making smart decisions can be difficult in a fast-changing situation. But having a comprehensive crisis communications plan will help your organization mitigate negative fallout, much like stopping a viral outbreak. During a crisis, customers are not just evaluating your business on what you are saying and posting, they are paying careful attention to what you are doing and how you are responding.

To read more visit www.cmasolutions.com/blog.


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