It is more important now than ever to be seen and to engage positively with your audience. How you go about this is what can make all the difference. We have come up with a few simple tips to help business owners, sales and marketing teams and leaders, plan and maintain visibility in the right way at a time when business confidence is at an all-time low. Hopefully you can put some of these tips to practice!
There’s no doubt that COVID-19 has put us all a little on edge.
It’s hard to imagine that only 4 weeks ago it was business as usual - we were all rushing to fill orders, busy managing our schedules and attending back to back meetings.
Today we find ourselves in a very different world.
Some may say that it’s almost as if time is standing still and the quiet commuter transport links are a constant reminder of the changing business landscape.
This is a time of national crisis and emergency and although it can be tempting for us to bury our head in the sand, lay low and hope that eventually everything will fix itself, now is the time to dig deep, tune in and acknowledge what is going on around us. Maintaining your visibility at a time like this is essential for your long-term profitability and continued investment.
It is more important now than ever to be seen and to engage positively with your audience. How you go about this is what can make all the difference. “It’s not about whether you get knocked down. It’s whether you get back up again”
It goes without saying that it can be difficult during challenging times to maintain previous productivity levels and morale, but it is important to remember that businesses can still flourish if we are willing to try new approaches and adapt our messaging to the changing landscape.
Same old won’t necessarily work right now.
Instead we need to use this time wisely, think outside the box and reinvent old ways.
We have come up with a few simple tips to help business owners, sales and marketing teams and leaders like yourself, plan and maintain visibility in the right way at a time when business confidence is at an all-time low. Hopefully you can put some of these tips to practice!
1) Connect with your customers
Existing customer relationships are hugely important to us all. We’re all familiar with the old saying that it’s cheaper to retain an existing customer than acquire a new one – and this couldn’t be truer than at a time like this.
Now is the time to connect with your customers, show some compassion and empathise with each of them or you may risk losing them.
You can do this by revisiting your customer personas – put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself:
“What are they going to be worried about?”
“What are their pain points right now?”
“How can I make their lives easier?”
“Do they have more time now?”
Really try and reflect and think about how this may be impacting their business and how you can help.
2) Be more human
Now is a good opportunity to revisit your tone of voice and messaging. The last thing any of us want right now is to receive pushy sales emails and opportunistic comms. Be more human than you have before and approach customer engagement with sensitivity to the situation. Providing reassurance and giving clarity at a time when things are so uncertain will always be greatly appreciated.
Remember whilst everything outside is quiet – inside, our homes busier than ever with people working, reviewing services, discussing plans, exchanging views on business and so there’s definitely an opportunity for you to stand out during this difficult time by staying connected.
‘Out of sight out of mind’ – don’t let this be you!
One way of engaging positively with your customers is by offering some of your normally paid for services or support free of charge. As an example, we have offered some of the government agencies that we deal with, additional calling time at no cost, in the aim of helping to lighten the load of the increased internal calls our clients are receiving.
An edtech company Frog Education are doing their bit for the education sector, offering a condensed version of their Home Learning platform with free elements for teaching staff to facilitate communication with pupils as schools are closed and we have seen a number of caterers transitioning into running delivery food businesses, and others are dishing up hundreds of free meals to NHS workers and their families!
It’s worth also noting that this doesn’t have to eat into your pockets at what is already a tough time for many of us financially – it may simply be that offering your time right now is enough. For example, our director Faresh Maisuria has registered with the Local Enterprise Partnership to offer peer-to-peer coaching to other small and medium businesses and provide a sounding board for those businesses looking to sense check their ideas. (If you’re interested in talking or want to volunteer yourself you can email him here).
You could do the same! Share good news and some of the positive things that you are doing with your customers. And guess what? You can bet that your customers will remember you for helping them during tough times, and have no problem engaging with you going forwards. At the same time, it will help to differentiate you from your competition.
3) Reinvent what you do
Confidence will come back. Although it might be hard to imagine any kind of normality again right now – things will change, and the economy will bounce back and when it does you need to be prepared. With employees furloughed, customer work on pause and cashflows tight in many cases, what ‘normal’ looks like will likely be quite different for us all – and so how we prepare and get ready for this return is certainly worth considering even now. As some may say, ‘If you stay ready – you won’t have to get ready’. And this applies more so now than ever.
Take this time to look for new ways of serving your customers and try to be creative with what you’re doing. Diversify your business and adapt your messaging and services to meet new customer needs.
You could use this time to draft new content for your website, email communications with fresh educational pieces aimed at helping businesses get back on their feet after these tough times, and good news blogs.
4) Think on your feet
The importance of practical help is not to be underestimated and so don’t be afraid to offer simple gestures. For example, local breweries such as Northern Monk and North Brewing Co are giving away drinks to boost morale in the NHS, We Are Leach a company specialising in graphic display and signage, are providing downloadable social distancing packs to support those in sectors such as retail and hospitality on the return to work, as well as also now manufacturing PPE gear.
People are adapting their business models and using online sharing platforms more than ever to service their customers and prospects alike. Teachers are giving lectures using Google Hangout, sales appointments are taking place via Skype and Microsoft Teams, and Mums and children across the country are more than happy that Joe Wicks is the nation’s new PE teacher!
For some our clients we have reframed our activity during this confusing time, from prospecting to gathering opinion and signposting their customers to support. Especially relevant as their customers are seeking our client’s advice now more than ever.
If you can think on your feet and show your ability to switch your business model to help those in need – you will likely make a difference that will stand you in good stead for the future.
Think on your feet now, and you’ll hit the ground running later.
5) Bring your values to life
Tap into your business values and really make them work for you. If you do this and you mean it, your customers and the wider business community will really understand who you are. This is about long-term brand strategy – not short-term cash.
One of our values is ‘teamwork’, and so it’s important that we are posting good news stories on our employees, team activities, community events that we are involved in or interested in and so forth. Social media is more prominent in today’s world than ever and so use it wisely to share good stories - you can never underestimate the power of positivity at times like these!
Also, as we mentioned before, we took the decision to offer our services free of charge to some of the government agencies we work with, to support them in their COVID-19 comms to businesses and care homes. Businesses are looking to them for support and guidance and we have the resource and capabilities to assist so we want to live and breathe our own values by doing our bit to help.
COVID-19 has certainly thrown a few curveballs and many of us are finding our businesses in no-man’s land considering our future in this uncertain period. One thing for us all to remember is that we are in this together. This time will pass. And until it does, please do not underestimate the power of staying connected with your customers, being more human, diversifying your marketing messaging and comms and bringing your values to life.
If you want to sense check your ideas on how to market yourself in these uncertain times – we really would love to hear from you and so please get in touch.