“Life has many ways of testing a person’s will, either by having nothing happen at all or by having everything happen all at once.” – Paulo Coelho
We’re all keenly aware of the challenging situation facing us currently, and the unprecedented business climate brought on by the recent COVID-19 outbreak. If you’ve recently changed up your content or postponed your offers in an effort not to sound tone-deaf in these trying times, good on you.
Marketing will eventually return to business as usual. This health crisis doesn’t mean your marketing and content have to stop completely, but right now it’s critical that you adjust your messaging to be sensitive, timely and relevant.
More than anything now is the time to create helpful and relevant resources for your audience. Whether it’s on social media, email, your website, or all of the above, it’s a good time to check in on your clients and colleagues.
Now that social distancing has become the catchphrase of 2020, what your customers need most from you right now are information and support.
Start by asking yourself “What questions do my customers have right now? How can I help them?”
- For example, if you’re a wedding planner, many couples may have been forced to change their event dates. You can offer to support them in contacting vendors and adjusting their timelines to make the process go more smoothly.
- If you provide remote accounting and financial reporting services, you can provide tips for managing money in times of reduced cash flow.
- Physical therapy, dental, and other patients may wonder if their non-urgent healthcare needs will be postponed in these times.
Instead of waiting for them to ask, be proactive about providing messaging to help your customers feel more comfortable, connected and informed. Here are some suggestions for keeping your audience in the loop during these trying times:
Let people know whether you’re closing temporarily, changing hours, or offering limited services. If you’re a virtual or remote company and operating as normal, that’s super important information as well!
For businesses that are still open and involve some form of contact (such as a bank with a drive-thru window or a pharmacy) let people know what measures you’re taking to ensure safe distancing, sanitization, and employee health.
Cancellation or Rescheduling Policies
If you’re offering free cancellations or you’d prefer clients to reschedule rather than cancel, make that clear. Provide a dedicated link or phone number for handling cancellations, refunds, and vouchers to redeem later.
Promote Virtual Offers
Highlight your online store, gift cards, or other virtual offers. If you need ideas on how to shift your IRL offers to digital, I want to help! For a limited time, I’m offering my 1-to-1 strategy sessions for free. Contact me here.
You might also want to consider increasing your online presence (if possible) while people are at home. That could mean fun Instagram stories to stay engaged with your audience, creating helpful or fun blog posts, or creating a pop-up Facebook group to help people with questions or offer services virtually.
Provide a Central Hub for Information
Whether it’s via phone, FB chat, or a Twitter support account, let people know where to get help regarding your business’ services and updates. Especially if your storefront or main office is now closed, people will appreciate knowing where to direct their inquiries.
Information is power!
Finally, Take Care of Your Employees
The importance of frequent and open communication goes double for your employees. Many workers are worried about the future of their jobs and how they will continue to support their families in the face of an economic downturn.
- Invest in technology for virtual communication if your team is now working from home (Zoom, Slack, Asana, etc.)
- Create internal resources to keep employees in the loop when policies change
- Designate an HR team member as the point person to handle employee inquiries
- Develop contingency plans for the eventuality of layoffs or furloughs
- If possible, provide employees with alternative work that may have come up as a result of the crisis (ie rescheduling appointments)
- Provide flexible/paid sick leave (if at all possible) and communicate all policies explicitly to your team
Finally, I just wanted to say, whether it’s a global pandemic, an earthquake, or any other unexpected crisis, we have to look for the good and find ways to support each other. I know families, communities, and businesses are hurting right now.
But let’s focus on the good things that might come out of this – neighbors supporting each other, friends and families reconnecting, and our communities as a whole looking after our elderly and vulnerable populations. Let’s hope that some of these small changes will have longer-lasting, positive impacts, once these days have passed.
We can get through this together! Wishing you health, patience, and perseverance.