This is a blog post we never envisioned we would need to write. Over the years, we have coached our clients through difficult conditions as extreme as the Great Recession, explosive rent and fixed cost spikes after that, radical competitive shifts and even natural disasters like Superstorm Sandy. But nothing has come close to the disruption caused by our current global health crisis.
Some organizations have been more affected than others, but all have been touched. Our team has fielded dozens of questions from our clients, seeking our advice as to their next steps. From general strategic planning, to specific inquiries about messaging effectiveness, each question was underscored by the urgent need to be resourceful with their stretched resources.
So we gathered our answers together in four categories of advice that will be sure to help you as you adjust your marketing plans.
1. React to today, but plan for tomorrow
While you obviously need to adjust – as quickly as possible – to the disruption you are feeling today, you don’t want to lose sight of your core mission (always remember your Why). When this crisis is over, you want to be in a position to begin rebuilding from a solid foundation.
How do you do this? Separate your foundational mission as an organization from your implementation of that mission (we’re going to get to implementation in a minute). You can do this by breaking your mission down to its most fundamental state. Say for example, you have a food service business. You might have provided catering, and a food truck, and cooked at holiday events. But the core mission, your Why, could be distilled down to the belief in connecting people through shared meals. By keeping your core mission front and center during this crisis, it can be your North Star as you make challenging choices.
2. Rethink your How
Now, let’s talk about implementing your mission. If your core mission is your Why, how you implement it is your How. Now is the time to be honest with yourself about what can be adjusted, what can be optimized, and what can be let go. There are so many decisions to be made during this crisis. You need to be able to remove emotions from the equation (as much as possible).
If you keep your core mission as your North Star, it is easier to remove some emotional attachments as to how it is implemented. You might really love catering events, to continue our example. Obviously, that is not possible right now. But you can keep your mission of connecting people through meals by opening curb side drive-thrus, or expanding to delivery options. Rest assured, when this crisis is over, you are best positioned to adjust your How back if you have made wise, honest decisions today.
3. Effective communication is vital
Your current (and future) clients have had their world turned upside down, too. That sounds like a trite statement, but it’s very important to remember that you cannot take for granted that your clients understand your current condition. They might not realize you are still open. Or that you have had to make adjustments in your products or delivery method. Or that you have expanded (hopefully!) to accommodate new business. With everything they are juggling in their own life, it is very important to over-communicate right now.
Some quick suggestions for you to consider:
- Do you need to make adjustments on your website? Whether it be for changing hours, slower delivery schedules, or a shifting legal environment, make sure you have made any relevant changes to your online information.
- Do you need to update your Google My Business listing? Your My Business listing is a quick way to inform the general public of any relevant changes to hours, delivery options, and other logistical considerations.
- Have you emailed your current customers? Your email list is your best friend right now. Sending a quick note to your client base – even if it’s just to send a message of support – will be welcome and helpful. If you are having to pare down your product line or operations, prioritizing your current customers is a smart move and will reward their loyalty.
- How timely are your social media posts? Traffic on Facebook and Instagram has jumped as much as 25% over the past six weeks. The general public is using social media as an informative resource, not just as a way to stay connected. Staying connected to your followers will help you keep the conversation open, in preparation for a turnaround in the near future.
4. Empathize in your messaging, don’t lecture
When it comes to your communication strategy today, most people have picked up on the need to strike a conciliatory and comforting tone. However, be careful of offering advice that might not take into account everyone’s individual circumstances. This crisis is affecting people in a wide variety of ways. It’s important not to be presumptuous of what people are experiencing, or what they are feeling.
A perfect way to avoid this is to deliberately seek two-way dialog. Whether it be in a social media post – or on the phone with a client – pause to ask people how they are doing. And then listen. As a result, you can naturally start to not only understand their situation better, but to find an authentic way to help them. Partnering with clients, neighbors, business associates and even competitors is a critical way to find a path forward. Partnerships begin with authentic communication.
Here at Bombastic, we are more than happy to be a resource or thought partner as you seek to develop your own strategy over the weeks and months ahead. If you have a question, please reach out. If we don’t have an answer, we are happy to help you find someone who will. Truly, we are all in this together.