Business Operations

How to Prep for the New Normal

Quick! Name three new buzzwords you’ve learned in the last several months. We can start with “social distancing,” “new normal,” and “flatten the curve.” And if someone had told you back in January that you’d be conducting regular business via something called Zoom, you probably would have rolled your eyes and laughed.

Quick! Name three new buzzwords you’ve learned in the last several months. We can start with “social distancing,” “new normal,” and “flatten the curve.” And if someone had told you back in January that you’d be conducting regular business via something called Zoom, you probably would have rolled your eyes and laughed.

And yet, here we are.

We’re all feeling a little off-center, a little thrown, and perhaps a little confused with changes being thrown at us daily. While words like unprecedented, confusing, and challenging roll off the tongue easily, we need to be careful and stand watch: There’s a definite fallacy in getting caught up in the “right now” without a solid eye as to what’s headed toward us down the road. Too much focus on the now takes away from the future.

As a dealer, how has your business made it through the last several months? With construction deemed essential in much of the country, we hope your work has remained stable, and any drops have been minimal. Regardless, without meetings and lunches and sales calls, we’re guessing there’s still a little extra time on your hands these days. Chances are strong that putting your business first and promoting your offerings and skills falls down the to-do list on most days. Well, no time like the present to take advantage of that extra time—be it an hour a day or a day a week—and start looking ahead!

While you probably have your own marketing and promotion to-do list, here are five easy ways you can kick off an awareness campaign and use this quieter time to bring attention to your business.

  1. Professional development. Is there a college or university in your town? If they offer continuing education classes, chose one or two that will help move your business forward. Select a topic or skill that needs improving, and go for it!
  2. How’s your social media presence? Now’s the time to launch social media channels for your business… or bring them back to life if they’ve been stagnant a little too long. Search for and share authentic, timely content. Beware of posting for the sake of posting and over-posting! Post consciously, and post well.
  3. As the country begins to slowly open back up, now’s the time to get an event on your customers’ calendars. Have you missed a big company anniversary? Was your traditional spring family picnic postponed? Missing your March Madness barbeque? Your customers—and you!—are likely craving social interaction at this point. Make a bold plan to hold an event later this summer or into the fall—following all necessary guidelines, of course—then start sharing the date with your key audiences. Create a save-the-date card or send out an email invite. Give them something to put on their calendar and look forward to!
  4. Evaluate how you communicate with your key audiences, and be honest with how well you’re getting key messages across. E-newsletters, regular postcards promoting specials and seasonal discounts, social media, a solid web site—all of these are strong conduits of information. Which ones are working, and which ones need to be retired? How can you improve the ones you have and give your customers and key audiences more of what they need?
  5. The big one: start building an overall communications plan for your business. It doesn’t have to be big and fancy! Find the simple, effective elements that work for you (and get your information successfully to your customers!) and build out from there.

Bonus item: Find a way to give back. Communities and the people in them are hurting. How can you help?

Challenge yourself and your employees to use this time to start anew and try new things, be it regular online training, writing and developing a new e-newsletter, or upping your local presence by inviting media, bloggers, and/or influencers to lunch to learn more about what you do in the community.

Just a little bit of time each week spent promoting your business will increase awareness with both current customers and potential future ones.

Kim Drew

Kim Drew, APR, is a long-time communications consultant in the building products and construction industry. She may be reached at kimdrewpr@gmail.com.

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