What’s Up Downtown: 3 steps to communicate upon reopening (Voices) | nnbw.com

What’s Up Downtown: 3 steps to communicate upon reopening (Voices)

Alex Stettinski

What's Up Downtown

Alex Stettinski is executive director of the Downtown Reno Partnership.
Courtesy photo

RENO, Nev. — As your business begins preparations to reopen (or has already reopened) amid the pandemic, and customers prepare to venture out, it’s good to think about how you’re going to let them know about new hours, new protocol, new products, how you’re keeping your employees and them safe.

It can feel like a lot, but we got you covered with this quick, 3-step guide to digital marketing. Here’s what the Downtown Reno Partnership has recommended to its businesses.

Step 1: Create an experience

Batuhan Zadeh, owner of Hookavah, is creating a robust customer experience at his hookah bar in downtown. He is only allowing up to 60 people in the 260-capacity bar (well below the 50% limit). Staff are taking temperatures with a contactless thermometer, using disposable hookah mouthpieces and cleaning booths with UV wands. The bouncers and staff reinforce these rules with every customer.

Whether you choose the basic county requirements, requirements plus county recommendations or all of that plus your own guidelines — communicate it clearly to customers:

  • Post your COVID-19 safety guidelines on your website and social media in a static place (“About” page, COVID page, pinned post, etc.)
  • Make signage clearly visible and consider window decals or clear signage at your front doors
  • Enforce and reinforce those guidelines with your staff and have them reinforce them with customers
  • Make it obvious. Disinfecting touch points regularly and maintaining clean areas is visible. If people say they didn’t see the sign, consider making the sign bigger. Set an example and stick with it.

Step 2: Update your online presence

Customers are probably heading to Google first to find your business or decide where to eat, drink or shop. That means the first thing you should do is take over/update your business profile on Google.

Google does not automatically update anything, and your business may not even have a page yet unless you’ve set it up yourself:

  • Create a page (if not already) with your Google account and fill out everything. If this is your first time, you may need to verify the page with an automated phone call or mailed postcard.
  • Update hours on Google (you can always change them later or create temporary hours). The worst experience is people showing up to a business that’s closed because the hours were wrong.
  • Update Yelp, Facebook and Instagram profiles: Customers who can’t find you on Google (hopefully they can after step 1) will look here next. Update the same information here to match what you just did with Google Business Page. Don’t forget to check all the nooks and crannies in Facebook especially, as it requires a robust answer to everything.

It’s a lot of copying and pasting but it’s worth it to create a consistent presence online.

We know updating social media is time-consuming. Some of it simply feeds the social media algorithm to make yourself relevant to the social media gods, but also helps people who constantly seek recommendations and look for answers on social media. With that:

  • Make posts visual: Show us what you’re selling (freelance photographers or videographers are amazing, look at the photos Old-Granite Street Eatery is producing). Try focusing on one or two products/services at a time. If you’re going to use video, make sure the audio is perfect, otherwise stick with photos.
  • Your caption should answer: What is it? Why do I need it (can be emotional or silly or functional)? How do I get it? How can I buy it now?
  • Call to action: That last one is important! If someone cannot immediately click a link or dial a phone number or show up somewhere at a time, then you aren’t going to convert that post into a sale.

Step 3: Update your website

Ideally these profiles will drive customers to your website to look up your menu, shop online or find out your current safety guidelines and offerings.

Wild River Grille has a perfect example of how to do this. On their homepage, a “COVID-19 Update” button is the first thing customers see. This allowed them to set up a separate page with all the new information — hours, menu, contact information, reservation link, safety protocols — in one place.

We recommend this method so that customers have one place to find everything and you don’t have to make many tiny changes all over the site that will need to be updated again later. This is also great for search optimization if Google points directly to this web page. If you don’t manage your own site, consider getting one page like this added to it by whoever does.

Curbside pick-up is going to be a reality for the foreseeable future. Customers may prefer it in the future and you will need to decide if that’s a permanent offering you can support. The more you can do to put your products online and offer ways for people to buy local, the more you can start to bring people into your store.

Remember — the goal with these and other measures is to make people excited to give you money and feel good about it. Anything that makes that process difficult or creates a bad experience is going to convince them to take their money elsewhere and likely never come back.

“What’s Up Downtown” is a monthly Voices column in the NNBW authored by Alex Stettinski, executive director of the Downtown Reno Partnership. Reach him for comment at astettinski@downtownreno.org.