We are being teased by lockdown restrictions starting to lift in other countries and by speculation when they might start to lift here.  If your business has, effectively, been paused for the last six weeks or so, now is the time to start planning for that restart.  This is the first of two blog posts on that topic; this one deals with activities you can spend time (but not money) doing now to prepare and the second will talk about making a restart plan.

Give your website a health check

Is your website ranking in search engine results where you want – and for the search terms you want?  Can you track how many people are visiting your site and how they navigate it?  How does your website stack up against your competitors’ sites?

Your website is the hub for almost all of your marketing activities, so it has to be up to scratch.  If you want some ‘quick wins’ to help improve your search rankings (SEO), have a read of my last blog here.  If you want a quick guide to the technical aspects of your website’s function (loading speed, security etc.) there are some free online tools available; I quite like Website grader from Hubspot. And if you haven’t already set up Google Analytics (or any sort of visitor tracking), now is the time; you might need your web developer to embed the snippet of code for you but it will give you all sorts of useful information about how your site is used, how people find it and – potentially – why people are leaving it.

Write some quality content

One article, news story or blog can work really hard for you.  It can be a post on your website, copy for your customer newsletter, a couple of posts on your LinkedIn profile and provide material for several social media posts (all driving traffic back to your website, of course!).  Quality content is great to demonstrate that you know your stuff, to respond to changes in your industry and is a great way to keep your website updated.  What’s more, if you can write a post entitled ‘How to…’ or ‘Tips on…’ it is ideal search engine fodder; if someone has searched on the same ‘How to….’, your post just might feature high in their results.

With a little time to spare now, get writing.  An article should be a minimum of 300 words but doesn’t have to be long or formal.  And get ahead; write as much as you can now that you can ‘bank’ and plan to share it when things get busy again. Anything that is ‘giving away’ ideas is being well received just now.

Crunch some customer numbers

Reflect on your customers: how much is each one worth to you, how did they become a customer in the first place and how much effort do you have to expend servicing them?  You may well find some patterns forming; for example, leads generated through a face-to-face meeting (perhaps at a networking event) have proved to be of higher value and less ‘hassle’ than, perhaps, referrals through contacts have been.  It’s also worth reflecting on whether your customers’ needs have changed.  If they have pivoted their business model to reflect changing times, will they need your product/service in the way they did previously?  This will give you some vital information about what you should be focusing your efforts on to generate those quality clients in future.

Map a typical customer journey

While you are in a ‘customer data’ headspace, have a think about the process that took place to convert a lead into a customer, and how you keep them as a customer.  It is very likely that the first steps of that journey took place without you even realising it, by people visiting your website or checking out your social media.  Once you have that ‘map’, you can tailor your marketing activities to suit different stages on the journey to help you ‘land’ new customers.  And don’t forget repeat business.  They say it costs five times more (at least) to get a new customer than keep an existing one so think about how you stay in touch to keep them engaged.  (It never ceases to amaze me how often organisations fail to take the opportunity to remind me that a subscription is coming to an end, for example; if you are not bothered about keeping my business, why should I be bothered to renew?).

Be active on social media

If you are not already, get more active on social media.  As my good friend The Print Lady put it, you can keep your distance and still be sociable!  And most people are; my own Twitter engagement has increased by more than 100% in the last 28 days.  Remember that social media is just that: social.  It was inspired in the first place as a means to generate a sense of community.  We usually say that you should apply the rule of thirds to your social media posts: 1/3 engaging with others, 1/3 posting tips or info’ you think your followers will value and (only then) 1/3 your ‘sales’ messages.  At this time, I’d say that the focus really needs to be on the first two much more than the latter; what we need now is to build community and quality contacts and we can get back to selling in due course.  Oh, and if you don’t use a social media scheduling tool (Hootsuite, Tweetdeck Buffer etc. there are lots out there, many with free basic offers, now is the time to set one up.

Up next…. Planning for the restart.