Marketing, as we know, is the action of promoting and selling products or services. It includes digital tactics like social media, traditional advertising like television commercials, and public relations.
All of those things are still true. But everything else—every single thing that we knew about telling our brand stories in the marketplace has changed. That’s because we are, as you are acutely aware, in the midst of a global seismic shift that will affect our lives and our businesses in ways we can’t possibly predict.
For small business owners and marketers, this impacts our communications because our audience has wholly shifted. We simply cannot predict how they’ll connect with our brand because they, like us, are experiencing a trauma that will change how they perceive the world around them, including our communications with them.
How, then, can we manage our communications as we navigate through to the other side of this unprecedented situation? Here are four critical considerations:
PROTECT YOUR BRAND ASSETS:
- Create a contingency plan – start with sharing logins and passwords to all of your communications channels with another trusted person. Then, explore the answers to questions like “what would happen if … “and proactively address as many issues as you can before they arise. One example is considering what would happen if the person responsible for social media and other online channels became ill. Start there and brainstorm others.
- Establish redundancies. Remember, if you use only one channel like just Facebook for messaging, then you deny the majority of your audience the chance to see your message. That’s one thing during times when you’re trying to sell and connect, but it’s quite another when you’re trying to provide critical updates to them. Therefore, make sure that important updates are posted to your website, to your Google My Business page, and sent out by other means such as email, posted signs, texts, etc.
- Lean into your core – good marketing is all about providing value to your audience. That hasn’t changed. But no one expects you to give value on areas outside of your core business. Add value where you can reliably do so, but leave the rest to experts in other fields.
- Protect your database—your customer database is one of your key business assets. It’s therefore critical that you put your hands on that database and protect it, even if that means something as basic as exporting the names and contact information for your customers and saving it to a thumb drive.
SHIFT FROM A MINDSET OF BUSINESS GROWTH TO BUSINESS CONTINUATION:
- These are confusing times. Focus on CLARITY and CALM in your messaging. There will be a day in the future where your snazzy social media posts or your compelling sales pitch will be dusted off and used again. In the future, you’ll return to using marketing to grow your business. Right now, however, just focus on business continuation for your messaging.
- There’s no reason to abandon all of your regular social media posts and other communications altogether, but it is crucial that you adjust to the new abnormal. As much as we all need touchpoints of normalcy, the same marketing message that you would’ve sent out just a month ago or this time last year may seem really tone-deaf. Your well-intended messages may make you seem unaware of the concerns swirling around you. So be conscious of your messaging. It’s fine to be upbeat, but it’s more important just to be straightforward.
- It bears repeating–stay within your area of expertise. Unless you’re already in the field of motivational messaging, health and wellness, or comedy, now is not the time to take on that style of communicating.
APPROPRIATE MESSAGING DURING UNCERTAIN TIMES
- There is no more such thing as business as usual, so there isn’t any marketing as usual. Everything that we knew about marketing and targeting is shifting, and it’s too soon to tell what your audience has an appetite for at this time. Don’t worry that you don’t have it all figured out—nobody does.
- Carefully consider every message before you share or post it and ask yourself whether it could be perceived as capitalizing in on this global tragedy. You may not mean to do so, but everyone is hyper-aware of businesses who seek to cash in as the world shifts. You must, therefore, carefully review all of the messaging that you send out to avoid negative perception among your audience and community.
- Permit yourself to continue informing others about your business. Sharing photos of you and your team practicing social distancing or meeting remotely is fine if you think it adds value and connection to your audience. Sharing pictures of the ways that you’re serving your community is certainly something that you should consider as well. It’s a bad idea, however, to just continue carrying on as if nothing’s happening.
- You should also give yourself permission to sit it out. You are likely accustomed to being responsible for pushing out messaging every single day, maybe even more frequently than that. Make sure that you allow yourself to focus on other areas of your business now. Even a message that you feel is well-intended and aimed at hope and encouragement could be interpreted in a way that you can’t anticipate. No one is expecting you to keep up business as usual or messaging as usual, so it’s okay to take a break.
In recent years, the vast majority of small businesses have managed their own marketing. We now face unprecedented times. No one should go it alone. Therefore, you are invited to join our private group to take advantage of daily insights for communications and marketing.