At TCC, we work closely with several retail clients and the negative impact that the pandemic is having on them is clear. It’s not just less footfall than usual. It’s no footfall. But now is not the time to wallow in self-pity. We must reserve a sense of perspective. Yes, it’s dire on the high street, but it’s more dire elsewhere and these measures are absolutely necessary. Instead, now is the time to focus on what we can do to prepare for when things have passed, and we can safely welcome customers back to the high street.
Over the last few years, online shopping has soared and less people have wanted to visit the high street. Now…no one can visit. It just can’t catch a break. However, as people’s choice to venture out has been taken away, their desire to get back out there will be greater than ever when things move back to normality. They’ll be beyond bored of the four walls around them and will want nothing more than to get out of the house and away from their devices. The high streets, full of shops, restaurants, pubs and cafés will be full of life and scenes of celebration.
So, it’s incredibly important that, even though the shops themselves are closed, we focus on our strategy. Maximising a brand’s visibility is more important than ever to ensure they stay front-of-mind with their customers. Whilst footfall is usually the main objective for a retail client, strategy now has to be shifted to focus purely on brand awareness because, try as we might, footfall is not happening. We want customers to be thinking about our brands when the time comes to get back out there properly.
However, it’s important to be conscious of the ways you achieve that awareness; now is not the time to be pushy. Right now, our feeds are flooded with anxious updates and nervous news, which can feel overwhelming. So, when managing our clients’ social accounts, we want to create a space for their followers and customers to feel uplifted and inspired by positivity. Our content plans aren’t focussing on plugging offers that aren’t on offer, they’re showcasing uplifting and empathetic posts to support their customers at this tricky time. If we rightly invest in empathy now, it will pay dividends in brand affinity down the line.
Above all else, a brands mental availability is critical. Being there for your consumers, being consistent, being relevant and being transparent. Eventually, brands will have to reassure their staff and their customers of the safety of their stores with clear, comforting welcoming messaging. And who will they trust: the ones who spoke to them kindly in their time of need, or the ones that didn’t?
There is a difference between weathering a storm and trying to capitalise on a crisis. If you attempt the latter, you will get caught out. The way a brand engages with their audience now will determine how their audience engages with them in a few months’ time.
At TCC, we are busy planning and prepping. No, not for the apocalypse. But rather for the time where we can celebrate with our clients as they can safely invite customers back to the high street. We are taking time to listen and understand their unique offering to make sure that when they are ready, they can be the best they can be.
In post-Lockdown Britain, the high street will not be taken for granted. It will be a beacon of hope, togetherness and community.
Written by Bradley Bishop
April 6, 2020