An excerpt from AP September 2020 – by intergalactic ambassador to The Printerverse, Deborah Corn
As we move along in this much-hyped ‘unprecedented’ time of COVID-19 and navigating our businesses through its effects, going back to basics to establish trust could be the key to standing out. But this would mean having to reassess your business plan from the start. Here are a few things to consider:
Who are you?
You will need to determine if your business has changed over the last five months as a result of COVID-19. Ask yourself, “Have you been clearly communicating those changes with customers?” Your customers can’t effectively do business with you if they don’t know how.
How do you do it?
You will also need to assess if your processes have changed over the last five months, and if you have been clearly communicating those changes with customers. Again, your customers can’t effectively do business with you if they don’t know how.
What do you do?
COVID-19 has turned touching things into a medical decision. Okay, I admit that was extreme; but I know people who keep their mail in their garage for three days before they bring it inside, so it’s not out of the question.
With an equation of touch is equal to bad currently topical and the print industry promoting our marketing advantage as being tangible versus electronic all of these years, we have an unprecedented branding problem as touch becomes a negative impression.
Have you looked at your website and marketing materials to tone all of that down? Touch is a touchy subject right now, so don’t let a few words be an obstacle to a sale or show that you aren’t sensitive of the situation – or sensitive to the physical and mental state of customers.
What do you stand for?
COVID-19 and social unrest, especially in the US, has created an opportunity for brands and corporations to take a look at themselves and what they support. It’s no different for print businesses.
Your customers may want to know where you stand on social issues before they work with you. They may also be watching your social media and messaging to assess for themselves. Silence isn’t a strategy, it’s a position.
Have a long think about this and remember that no matter what you do, there will be some people that won’t like it. Be willing to accept that and create the customer base you want to work with, and attract.
Are you sticking around?
It’s becoming more frequent to read about print businesses closing and/or declaring bankruptcy not only in the US, but around the world. If you are financially sound, and if you know you are going to be around for at least a year, let your customers (and prospects know). They are nervous about this, and they don’t want to start something – a project or a relationship – that you can’t finish.
The trust factor
The bold subheads above tell a story about your business that you need to deliver on, with no exceptions. COVID-19 has disrupted so many aspects of your customers’ lives as is, so don’t make it difficult for them to work with you.
You need to understand how to work your business and who you are. More importantly, you need to deliver on your brand promise, at every single time. This has never been more important with so many things in flux and unreliable around us.
Make establishing trust with customers your mission over the next few months. Trust me, they need it.
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