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Businesses forced to either close or reduce trading as a result of the latest Covid-19 lockdown are looking forward to the opportunity to reopen in the weeks ahead as restrictions ease.
The Government’s roadmap provides hope that those businesses affected can resume trading, re-engage with their customers and return to some sort of normality.
But this begs the question: are you ready? This isn’t just about ensuring you’re explaining how social distancing, cleaning and other Covid-19 related measures will work.
Rather, whether you operate in the B2C or B2B sectors, it’s about recognising that customer needs and expectations are changing as a result of the pandemic.
Responding to a new trading environment
The shift to online shopping has added to the existing pressures faced by high street retailers and town centres.
By contrast, a lot of people have discovered the joys of shopping local. Getting to know your local traders, being able to make more ethical choices about how you shop and supporting your local community are all good reasons to support local independent businesses.
And the hope is that this trend continues as the pandemic accelerates shifts in buying habits and working patterns.
These changes are reflected in the B2B world. While the pandemic forced many B2B buyers and sellers to move online, there is growing recognition that digital is here to stay given the opportunity to lower costs, drive efficiency and seek competitive advantage.
The changing operating environment suggests you may need to review your marketing plans to ensure you capitalise on the opportunities provided.
Not least because the uncertainty generated by Covid-19 means that consumers, quite understandably, are looking for reassurance when making purchase decisions. Many now consider brand trustworthiness and good customer service as the main reasons for recommending a company to a friend or relative.
Consumers are also more likely to recommend ethical businesses which demonstrate concern for the impact of their actions, products and services on people and the environment.
In a nutshell, customer expectations are higher than ever. And word of mouth remains a powerful marketing tool.
What do your customers want?
This may be a good time to audit your marketing activities to ensure they’re aligned with your business goals and meeting your target audience needs and wants.
The questions you might consider include:
You never step in the same river twice
It’s a common observation but, as the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus noted, ‘The only constant in life is change’.
This may be the time to review key assumptions you’ve made about your business and how you market it. Think about what your customers really value about your products or services. And what might have changed as a result of the pandemic. Returning to the status quo may not be an option.
Consider what elements of your marketing work well. What elements work less well. And how you might need to adapt or change your messaging to meet your customer needs more effectively.
Remember. Customers are in the driving seat. Engagement remains essential. And those businesses that focus on customer satisfaction are significantly more likely to improve rates of repeat purchases, build brand loyalty and develop long-term relationships.
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