Fingers crossed, but we appear to be on a road out of this, a route back to normality, to normal life. The vaccine makes it feel like a sustainable, one-way journey, unlikely the yo-yo in and out of the last year’s lockdown.
Do you remember how to do normal?
It’s been a while for all of us. But if you’re a business that usually has people going in and out of it, and it’s time for that to happen again, then there’s probably things to talk to them about that won’t have happened for a while.
If you’re one of the businesses that have been open during all of this, then you’re still likely to have some changes ahead. Not to mention you’re going to be competing for people’s time, attention and money as other businesses reopen. Time to remind them what they’ve valued about you over the year.
What might people want to hear about?
This will be a bit of a transition phase, and what’s normal now might not be exactly what you did before all this started.
There are certain things that could help people engage, or re-engage, with what you’re doing now. Here’s my thoughts.
The practical things
This is probably a good time to go big on details. Opening hours, menus, new products, changes to store layout, limits on customer numbers… you get the idea.
It’ll save answering the same question many times, but it will also reassure those who are feeling a little anxious about more change. It works with words, but think about doing things like Instagram Live or similar, talking them through what’s going on, and showing them.
Be really clear, and don’t make them have to hunt down the information. If you do, they probably won’t. They’ll have other choices. Let’s not fall at the first hurdle.
The same content idea can live in all your channels. Keep repurposing and reusing. If you didn’t do that before, now’s a great time to start.
Remind them what you do
A year is a long time, and for many of us, this has felt like ten years in one.
Funnily enough, people may not remember exactly what you do. They might have a general idea: you’re the greengrocer, the baker, the candlestick maker.
But what about all the additional services you offer, some of which might be things that you started doing during lockdown and going to continue doing. Or there might be things that you started in response to the situation that you are no longer going to do.
They’re not stupid, they’re distracted. You are not their priority to remember anything about.
What do you stand for?
Like reminding people what you do, it’s also worth telling them again what your business values are. I love this quote from Mary Portas as an impetus as to why we need to do it:
The brands that survive will be the ones we buy into, not simply buy from. We will come out of this looking for meaning, purpose and connectionMary Portas
It’s a good time to look again at your manifesto, or however you tell people what you stand for. Look at how you tell the story of your business.
Help them remember why they wanted to buy into what you do in the first place. Or give those discovering you for the first time to get onboard.
Ditch being vanilla
I’m not about to send you a tub, but in most people, they probably are okay about vanilla but have a strong opinion, positive or negative, about pistachio.
I love Sally Hogshead’s piece on exactly this, and it has a serious point to it. When you have a tiny/non-existent marketing budget, then you have got to be scrappy and hungry to get your share of people’s attention. You won’t do that by being the same as everyone else.
What is the one thing that makes you distinctly different to anyone else? Tell people that.
Be more pistachio.
Say your thank yous
There are many people and things that have kept us all going through this. Everything from the incredible folks in every section of the NHS through to local stores stepping up to make fabulous things available to us even when their doors are shut.
There might be individuals who have done a significant amount for your local community or people who’ve joined your team to cope with demand. Perhaps it’s about team members you’ve had to furlough who are still banging the drum for what you do.
Let’s be thankful and grateful for everyone who has played a role, large or small, in keeping us going and helping us get back to normal life.
Celebrate the normal
Think we’re all craving a bit (hell, a lot) of this.
For me, normality will be sitting down somewhere for a good coffee, lingering over something to eat (hell, someone else cooking something to eat and washing up would be amazing).
It’s okay to tell people what you’re looking forward to as well. It’s the kind of content that makes you and your business appear more human and approachable. Back to being one of those brands we buy into.
No one cares what Amazon are looking forward to. They might care what about you though.
Show some empathy
This isn’t just for right now. I am always for businesses being human in their content, for talking about how you’re feeling, how those around you are feeling, saying it how it is.
There’s been a lot where it’s ok not to be ok. And you don’t have to pretend that you are, or that the situation is, or has been.
It’s also ok to be ok, to talk about normal stuff. My obsession with cake, good coffee, and, occasionally, gin, has continued unabated. If what you’re writing about comes from a positive, human place, then I’d say that was a good starting point.
It will always be good to talk
Keeping talking is always a good idea. There are no certain times ahead, even now. Just hope. So what do we do?
I love this quote:
“You must welcome change as the rule, but not as your ruler.”Denis Waitley
Here’s to ruling the changes by keeping on talking to each other.