Business as newsual: keeping your customers updated during COVID-19

Here we are at the end of June, a thousand miles from where we thought we’d be at the beginning of the year, not least due to COVID-19. Things are changing often, and as things start to re-open, we’re entering a grey area that can be tricky to navigate. We’re not in full lockdown, so things aren’t as clear as “Stay Home”, and yet we’re not “back to normal” either…

So let’s declare Business As Newsual, and give our customers something they’re really craving: clarity.

Now is a great time to update your customers via a newsletter, blog, or series of Instagram posts and stories (Facebook, too), so that they know exactly what YOU’RE offering, and what they can expect.

Whether you’re changing your offering, still running with some restrictions, or opening up fully, you can create a clear (and exciting) update via social media, email, or in your shop window.

Here’s what you can share, plus some handy resources:

What are you currently offering?

Things have changed a lot over the last few months, and some businesses have stopped selling, some have had a reduced range, and others have been cracking on with their usual stuff.

Clarity is everything, so let your customers know explicitly (and simply) what they can get from you right now, even if that’s “everything” and even if it’ll change later (more on that in a minute).

For example:

  • Our shop is still fully open, and we’re looking forward to adding some exciting new designs very soon!
  • You can buy print-at-home digital downloads, including my bestselling Yes We Can print, on my website right now, and I have a range of cards available on Thortful, who are brilliant at printing and sending directly to the recipient.
  • We’re still running a slightly reduced range of bestselling biscuits while we have a reduced staff. But that’s still over 16 different biscuit gift boxes to choose from, including the Birthday Box, the Anniversary Hamper, and the Family Friday Treat Collection!

Are you taking any special measures?

If you’re still socially distancing in the studio, or doing some extra cleaning, or using different packaging than usual, let your customers know.

While we’re reopening, it’s helpful to reassure customers that you’re taking care of them (and yourself / your staff). If things still look a little different than “normal”, let them know what to expect. Again, clarity is everything!

For example:

  • Our team is working hard to prepare your orders carefully, and we’ll still be running on a socially distanced timetable so there aren’t too many people in the studio at once. We love being all together, but right now, we want to keep everyone safe (and not make it socially awkward).
  • Because I’ve been shielding, I’m still only offering digital downloads to protect my own health. Over the coming weeks, I’ll be preparing my workspace and my product range so that I can get cracking with posting out orders again!
  • Our kitchen is always in tip-top shape, but we’ve added in some extra precautions, like face coverings and a different packing system so that your order is made and packed by one person from start to finish. You won’t notice anything different in the finished product, and we’re always committed to a nice clean kitchen.

How to order

I know, I know, it sounds obvious. And you’ve probably got a link in your profile to your website, maybe you’ve even got Instagram shopping set up.

EVEN SO let customers know how they can order, whether that’s through your website, through a marketplace, or sending you an email / message.

Anything you can do to make ordering easy and effective is so helpful! We’ve all got a lot on our minds, so make buying that gift / pick-me-up / essential treat really easy.

For example:

  • You can order via our website, on Notonthehighstreet, on Etsy, or even by emailing us on hello@reallycoolshop.com. Let’s get those gifts sorted (or those treats for yourself…)
  • Hop over to my site to get your instant digital downloads, plus instructions of how to print them at home. And of course you can go to my page on Thortful to order your next round of birthday cards!
  • Order beautifully baked biscuit gifts on our website, where you can choose from 16 collections.

What to expect

What are your current lead times? How are you sending out parcels? Will customers get email confirmations and updates?

Answering these questions adds a whole load of confidence when ordering from you. You don’t have to explain every step, just keep it simple and clear.

If there’s anything else customers need to know, or would find helpful, share that too!

For example:

  • We process all orders placed by 2pm on the same day. Our standard shipping to the UK is Royal Mail 2nd Class, which typically takes 3-7 days. You can upgrade to 1st Class Signed For if you’ve got something urgent. Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions about timing.
  • Once you’ve ordered your digital download, you’ll get an email with the files (including instructions). Don’t forget to check your spam folder! If you haven’t received an email within 24 hours, please email hello@brilliantdesigner.com.
  • We post out our biscuits three times a week. Order by midnight on Sunday for Monday dispatch (typically delivered on Tuesday or Wednesday), midnight on Tuesday for Wednesday dispatch (typically delivered on Thursday or Friday), and midnight on Thursday for Friday dispatch (typically delivered on Saturday or Monday). If you’d like to order ahead for a specific date, you can do this at checkout. We’ll keep you updated on your order the whole way through, and you can track your order, too.

Your next update

If things look like they’ll change again (for example, in July), let customers know.

Perhaps you’ll be opening up workshop bookings, or adding your whole range back to the shop. Give customers a date when you’ll next have an update so that they can check back or expect another email from you.

(And bonus points for creating a waiting list they can opt in to!)

For example:

  • Our new range is coming in July! New designs are in the workshop as we speak. Sign up to our newsletter to be the first to know.
  • I’ll be opening up my online shop and Autumn workshops at the end of July, so keep your eyes peeled for more information! If you’d like to be the first to know, sign up here.
  • We’ll be reviewing our kitchen safety measures every month, and we hope to reintroduce some more biscuit collections (and some new things too!) by September. If you’d like to stay informed, please sign up to our newsletter.

How to share this information

If you have an active email list (i.e. you send emails semi-regularly), email your people! Use the structure and examples above as a starting point, and add your own flavour and details.

If you post on social media, share an update post (or a series of posts) in your Instagram feed or Stories, or on Facebook. I’ve created some templates to make this easier for you:

Use Canva’s free editing tools to make your own sharable stories!

Some things to remember

Keep it really simple! Clarity is key. Don’t overwhelm your customer, just give them what they need to know.

Anyone who has been waiting for an order, has pre-ordered, or placed a big order with you deserves a great big thank you! Write a note or an email – let them know how much it means to you.

If you do collect email addresses for those interested in future launches or news, don’t forget to email them. It doesn’t have to be complicated, just a quick “It’s ready!” is enough.

More resources

You might like my free COVID-19 workbook, or even my latest course, Create Your Mini Business Plan, available on its own or with a strategic coaching session.

Book out the next six Friday mornings…

A little later on today, I’ll be welcoming some fabulous business owners to the Self Care on Social Media for Business Owners course platform and opening up the community.

These are the moments when everything starts to come together!

The course doesn’t start properly until Monday, but there’s something lovely about getting familiar with the space you’re going to be spending time in. It’s like a cat padding around the sofa before it sits down.

There’s a seat for you if you’d like to join us

Is this community waiting for you? And are you ready to be part of a change in the way we see social media and its influence on our businesses? I’d love for you to join us.

You’ll need:

  • a hunger to change the way you interact with social media for the better
  • mostly free Fridays from 10am till 12noon (though recordings will be available too)
  • a lovely notebook
  • a printer or PDF viewer
  • an investment of £140+VAT or three payments of £55+VAT

You’ll learn:

  • the unique way I started thinking about social media to help myself and my clients create an authentic voice
  • how to balance the benefits of social media with the challenges and pitfalls
  • how to put together a self care manual for using social media that’s totally unique to you
  • the difference between positive connection and mindless scrolling – and how to get more of the good stuff!

And that’s not to mention six weeks of access to coaching with me on this topic and your business in general, plus lifetime membership to the group and materials. In fact, signing up this time means you’ll be able to take the course again every time I run it in the future. Because things change and we need to refresh ourselves.

My passion and purpose

I created this course for one reason in particular: I know that so many amazing, talented, hard-working business owners are losing themselves in an endless scroll of comparison, distraction, and insecurity.

Had I a magic wand, I’d wave it and wish you all that time and energy back so that you could put it back into your business and experience far more success and joy. I’d get you out of your own way (because boy do I know what that’s like!).

In lieu of a magic wand, I created this course. It’s one of the closest things to magic that I know how to do, and I really, really want you to benefit from it.

Throughout the course, you’ll be able to:

  • examine your own use of different social media platforms
  • identify what works for you and what doesn’t
  • get excited about different ways of viewing the platforms you love
  • download worksheets
  • read articles
  • watch videos, including bonus interviews with people I love
  • ask questions and tap into my 9+ years of working with small creative businesses

Not just a pretty face

I’m talking about Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter, of course! Well, and you and me.

Social media isn’t just about a great photo or reaching a “perfect” standard of content. It’s about connection, resonance, and meeting people where they are.

The impact of a strong relationship with social media isn’t to be underestimated, and it’s my firm belief that your investment of time, energy and money in this course will pay off within months, if not weeks, of completing the course.

Get stationery shopping!

I could talk for hours about the benefits of the course, and I hope if there’s anything you’re not sure about by now, you’ll get in touch and let me know.

If it’s for you, please do go ahead and sign up before Monday morning, and then grab a lovely notebook so that you’re ready to start.

If this isn’t for you, thanks for reading this far and supporting my work! I hope we’ll find something else to connect with soon.

Enthusiastically,
Jenny x

Here's the thing: the things we tell ourselves on the scroll

Tell me if this sounds familiar:

You see someone online doing something similar to you. Or something you want to do. You freak out.

You decide they’re doing it wrong or not the way you’d do it, and they’ve already cornered the whole market doing it their way so there’s no room for you.

Maybe you find yourself into a rage about how they’re making a ton of mistakes and screwing people over by charging for something so cheap. Or that they’re undercutting you and can’t possibly be making any money. Or maybe they just don’t have the design skills you do, or the communication skills. Or the experience. Whatever the exact detail is, the situation pisses you off!

Or you decide you could never do it that well. They’ve already done everything possible. They’ve done it better than you, or they’re first to market and that’s all that matters. Maybe they took an idea in a slightly different direction, and it’s your belief that it’s better. Perhaps they seem like they’ve got it all together already – effortless product launch with recommendations and referrals and people shouting about how wonderful they are. You’re not pissed off, exactly. Deflated.

And so you stop. Or you procrastinate. You stop putting your talent and effort and energy into something great. You try to find something else, even though you already have something wonderful, and unique. You tell yourself all kinds of stories about why it can’t happen now, and why it hasn’t worked out, and why you should focus elsewhere.

But ultimately it comes down to this: you’re just afraid.

Our brains are really good at being afraid. And turning up the volume on doubt and fear and just staying nice and safe. Our brains want us to be safe.

My opinion? Social media has such huge potential for connection. But it can also be hugely destructive force, especially where our soft spots and creative fears are concerned.

Here’s the thing:

The first step is always cultivating awareness. When do you tend to get sucked into The Scroll? Is it first thing in the morning? Last thing at night? While you’re waiting to pick the kids up? What time are you trying to fill by scrolling through Facebook or Instagram?

And then there’s being aware of why you get sucked in. Are you trying to find connection online? Are you really getting it? What does scrolling offer you? (Hint: if it’s numbness or distraction from what you really want, it’s time to change.)

These are the first big questions in my upcoming course: Self Care on Social Media for Business Owners.

Because we need your work in the world. And your business deserves great marketing. But if you’re getting stuck in fear and overwhelm and anxiety and just plain old procrastination, we don’t get to buy your products or see your work.

We’re going to tackle the fears that change our behaviours. We’re going to talk about how to live closer to your dreams and your fears. You’re going to get MORE out of social media – and out of LIFE!

I don’t want you to post less or market your business less. What I want is for you to feel confident in why and how you use social media, and what your contribution to the shared space is.

Let’s cultivate awareness, but more than that. Let’s change how you feel and how productive you are.

The course starts on Monday 30th October. Will you join me and other brilliant business owners?

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