Communicating during the COVID-19 outbreak is challenging. Is it insensitive? What do I tell my customers? We get it - the idea of marketing and advertising when many businesses are doing it tough seems counter-intuitive. But now is the time to make sure your voice cuts through the noise. Both to provide to support to your customers and as a helpful resource for prospects. Here's the top five things you should be doing during a crisis:
1. Start by looking at your delivery model and opportunities
The first thing you need to think about is whether you can still sell your product or services. Whether your delivery model changed. And if you're able to offer any of your products or services online.
Think about the ways you can transition your model. Some businesses are taking the opportunity to partner with their existing customers. If you're a wholesale distributor for a café, for example, think about how you can package your offers so you can both sell more.
- Consider which of your services or product offerings you can take online or sell directly to consumers.
- Highlight opportunities for prospects who may have extra time or cash to spend. They might be looking for your product now, so show them how you can solve their problems
- Look at if you can partner with your suppliers or vendors to transform your delivery model or offer new packages.
2. Show your customers it's business as usual
Once you know what you can offer, focus on your customers. Keeping up communications with your existing customers is vital. Especially if you're experiencing a downturn in new business. They need to be nurtured and feel supported so that when everything is unpredictable, they know they can still rely on you.
Don't miss the basics - let them know your service or product is still available. And update them on any changes to delivery times, service or availability.
Get in front of any problems by being transparent and open with your customers. Even if you don't want to share bad news, they'll appreciate your honesty.
Tell them what support they can expect. Maybe you've had to reduce hours for your support team. Or maybe you've got more support staff in place to take an increased number of calls. Use your social media channels and direct email to keep your customers informed. Remind them that you're there for them in hard times, as well as when things are going well.
- Draft a personalised communication that shows empathy and authenticity. Be you.
- Update them on what you're doing in your business to help your customers and stay afloat.
- Offer them something. A deal or a voucher – anything to save them some money. They'll remember your service.
3. Keep your name out there
Digital platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn and Google Ads form a huge part of how businesses reach their target markets these days. And for many of us, posting regularly and engaging prospects is a weekly or even daily event. So whatever you do, don't stop!
Internet usage has doubled since remote working is in full swing, which means there are more people online. So there's potential to attract new customers. If you disappear now, your prospects will assume your business isn't operating anymore, and they could go elsewhere.
Use your channels to tell people what's happening in your business. Maybe there are changes to your operating hours with staff working remotely. Or maybe there's a special offer you'd like to share with your prospects. Stay front of your audience's mind, and when things get back to normal, your name will be one they remember.
- Don't have a website? Get one set up.
- Set up your business in Google, so when people search, they find you. And if you offer ‘delivery’, make sure you update your listing to include this.
- Advertise on Facebook (for people's downtime) or LinkedIn (used as a professional social network).
- Lead with authentic messaging, show how you can help and offer an incentive. Something as simple as 'Bored at home with nothing to do? Browse our collection of 100 puzzles and get it delivered straight to your door'. Brainstorming is key.
- Do more than just sell. Offer free webinars, thought leadership content or tips and tricks – the list is endless.
4. Use your unique value proposition (UVP) to help people
You have a real opportunity to help people right now - so use it. Whether, like us, you have a technical solution to solve your prospects problems during challenging times, or you have a product that'll help businesses stay afloat, let your prospects know about it. Now's the time to tell people why you're in business.
Maybe it's more appropriate to offer your expertise — use whatever makes your business special. Run webinars, share blogs, send emails linking people to these blogs. If you give your prospects useful, supportive information that helps them through the hard times, once things have returned to normality, you'll be a trusted source of no-strings-attached resources and value — that's what you want to be known for.
- Think about your expertise and how it sets you apart from your competitors.
- Make that UVP (your financial management experience, for example) your focus and link all your tactics to that.
5. Be sensitive
Unfortunately, many businesses are suffering right now. So thinking about how we communicate with our customers and prospects is just as important as what we say.
Try to be sensitive to your audience's problems and show empathy. Don't assume their situation has stayed the same – they might have cash flow issues or even have lost staff. Think about how what you say will be perceived and don't be aggressive or pushy. We've never been more connected in shared experience, so make sure your campaigns and messaging reflect this.
- Put a lens over your comms to ensure they're read in the right light — if you received your comm, would you think it was authentic or just another sales comm?
Get the word out
It's vital to keep your customers informed and bring in new customers now more than ever. It'll give you the best chance to stay in business during these uncertain times. Use your comms and marketing channels thoughtfully and regularly to give your business the edge and show your audience that you're with them all the way.
If Wiise can help you in any way, we'd love to hear from you. Reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We're all in this together.