At its simplest, we all need existing and potential customers to know that we’re open for business. So, as you prepare for the next phase of ‘life after lockdown’, how should you make sure you are visible?

‘Returning to work’ will look and feel very different for every business.

For some, there will be a clear line in the sand; a physical re-opening of a retail unit or leisure venue. A date to re-start the engine.

For others, trade has continued to some degree by adapting to work in a ‘safe’ way, whether on a construction site or virtual office. Having been ‘ticking over’ during the lockdown, these businesses are looking for opportunities to move forward again.

And in other instances, businesses may have been exceptionally busy, either because their original model and proposition has been in great demand, or because they were able to quickly adapt to the needs of new or existing markets.

Wherever our businesses sit on this spectrum, each of us needs to be prepared for another pulse of change as lockdown restrictions are adjusted. It’s time to reboot your marketing communications.

Here are three things to consider:

Make a new plan

Yes, it’s important to be agile and responsive in a changing marketplace. No, that doesn’t mean you should just wing it. Take a little time to make a new plan, so that all your efforts and resources will be directed to where they can have the most impact.

Start with capturing the overall goals of the business and the board’s strategy for achieving them; this may very well have changed in the past few months. Prioritise customer segments; ask customers about their current and future needs; and think about how you are solving their problems.

Be clear what you’re working towards, then be realistic about how much resource is at your disposal, now and as you bring colleagues back from furlough, or re-engage your external agency support.

Set some specific objectives for the next six months. Then, invite your marketing and comms colleagues to apply their skills, experience and creativity to create and execute a plan, with outcomes that can be measured, towards achieving those objectives.

Develop a few clear messages

What is it that you’d like people to think about you as they weigh up the decision to buy? If you don’t want to just compete on price, then help others to understand what makes you distinctive, different and relevant.

Hone your messages down to just a few – maybe three core themes that you can build conversations and content around.

For many businesses, this is an opportunity to think afresh about what really matters to you, your colleagues and your customers. Even firms selling to other businesses will benefit from being ‘human-centric’ in today’s world. When you are developing your messages, make sure you are addressing the ‘why’ (your sense of mission and purpose) not just the ‘what’ of your proposition to the market. Try incorporating the ‘who’ in your story too; those behind the scenes who make your business uniquely you, and the people who benefit, whether customers or other members of the community.

Tone and frequency

It’s probably going to get quite noisy as businesses turn up the volume once more.

In your enthusiasm, try not to start ‘shouting’, firing out a relentless stream of sales messages on your social media feeds. It’s aggressive, and you’ll probably exhaust yourself without achieving very much.

Yes, it’s important to let potential customers know about all the brilliant products you’ve created to help solve their needs. But think about the tone of your messages, the range of channels where you can reach your audiences, and the frequency with which you communicate.

Prioritise the channels most frequently used by your customers; this may have changed in recent weeks. Social media has been embraced by multi-generation audiences, but that hasn’t removed the need for carefully targeting the best times, places and types of content to engage specific segments of your audience.

Vary the pace. Use your content themes to move between the what, the why, and the who.

If you’d like help in rebooting your marketing, communications and social media planning ready for the next phase of recovery, we’d love to hear from you. Drop a line to sarah.bryars@targetgroup.co.uk.

Authored by Sarah Bryars.