May 29 2020

Reopening Your Business During the COVID 19 Pandemic

reopening business covid 19With many states updating stay-at-home orders, your business may be making plans to reopen your brick-and-mortar facilities. Whether you will be “back to normal,” or entering into a “new normal,” you are likely occupied with planning how to safely re-open while the COVID-19 pandemic is still very much an active situation. While the shuttering of facilities may have felt rushed, it’s important to be very deliberate about your communications plans as you reopen. Reference this handy guide to reopening your business as you enter this new phase of pandemic communications.

Update your online listings

Many people rely your local business listings to know if your business is open and what your hours are, so if this information is inaccurate, it can be devastating to your reopening plans. If you use an automatic listing service, many of these items can happen centrally ad automatically, but since most businesses manually manage this information, make sure to:

  1. Update your Google My Business Listings: Log into your Google My Business account to edit your business profile information for each location. This can include updated status (e.g., changing from Temporarily Closed), updating business hours, updating attributes (e.g. curbside pickup) and more. You will also want to ensure any events or news updates are up to date as well. Google has created special COVID-19 screens for many business types. Be aware that the updating Google listings may be subject to more of a delay than normal since Google’s staff is also working in a limited capacity and has a higher-than-normal volume of requests.

  2. Update your Bing Places for Business Listings: Similar to Google, you will need to make the same updates on Bing. Be sure to leverage the Announcements section to communicate any timely COVID-19 details, update any special hours or update your Temporarily Closed status. Also note that Bing’s announcements field only appears on desktop devices, so your mobile users will unfortunately not see this.

  3. Update your Yelp listings: You will also need to update your Yelp listings to ensure they are accurate. Similar to Google, you will want to confirm that your business listing information is correct. You can also leverage Yelp’s COVID 19 Advisory Alert feature, which communicates timely information about your business during this pandemic. If your business is offering virtual events or services instead of in-person, Yelp also has several new virtual service offering categories.

  4. Update location information on your website: If your location information is separately managed on your website, you will need to make those updates, too. Many businesses replaced their location finder maps with announcements about locations being closed or by-appointment only. If you are reopening, be sure to make all updates to match what’s available on local listing sites.

  5. Respond to reviews: While there was a time period when reviews were suspended to protect businesses in these trying times, this is no longer the case. It is vital to keep up with managing responses to any online reviews or ratings so that you can help with reputation management and escalate any customer issues immediately.

Leverage Marketing Tactics

Now more than ever, it’s essential that you communicate clearly and consistently to your customers. If you are making plans to reopen your business, be sure to communicate this information through the channels you know and trust.

  1. Social media: Social media has likely been a key communication source during the pandemic, so continue to use it to communicate any reopening plans for your business. Beyond being a resource for timely news, you can also use social media to generate excitement about your reopening in the form of giveaways or contests. If you are partnering with other local businesses or organizations, be sure to coordinate your social efforts, so that you leverage both of your brands to make an impact on your audiences.

  2. Email marketing: Email marketing has been seen a huge surge in relevance during the COVID-19 pandemic. Email should be used to communicate your reopening plans and anything important that your audiences need to know. You likely have many examples being sent to you from retailers right now – and the common theme is to be welcoming, transparent and supportive. This isn’t a time for heavy marketing and instead it’s an opportunity to show what your brand stands for and how your products and services can be relevant to their needs.

  3. Website and Mobile App: In addition to updating your location data, it’s important that your website and mobile app have accurate information about any business changes and updates. If a mask is required to enter a retail establishment, or there is another process change that folks need to be aware of, this type of messaging needs to be communicated consistently across all vital channels.

Internal Coordination

Many folks are returning “back to the office” but what that means is likely very different than what it was prior to the pandemic. Be sure to consider:

  1. Safety Policies: Your company or institution’s safety policies have likely changed, so it’s essential that you communicate that effectively. This may be in the way of an intranet, company email, or even customer-facing signage.

  2. Work-from-Home Policies: For many reasons – from health concerns to daycare issues – it will be important to have employees understand what your new work-from-home policy is. Whereas all non-essential employees might have worked from home for months, your new policy likely looks different now that state-level restrictions may have changed.

This “new normal” will look different for every company and institution and will vary dramatically by state and even county. Ultimately you will need to do what’s right for your business and your customers. By following these guidelines, you can at least avoid mistakes that can cost you time, money and even negatively impact your brand. As always, ZAG is here to help you navigate the digital space in good times and bad.

  • COVID-19

posted by
Michelle Brown
Michelle Brown
VP of Sales & Marketing

ZAG Interactive is a full-service digital agency in Glastonbury, CT, offering website design, development, marketing and digital strategy to clients nationwide. See current job openings.
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