Marketing in Uncertain Times
With all that is going on it is important to stay calm. As thought leaders, professional communicators, and influencers, we can help our community best by being calm during this storm. We know that this, like any other difficulty we have faced, is temporary and to not lose hope. In a time where practicing social distance is a priority for the well being of all, you will be tempted to stop everything and deal for a moment – and that is OK. Take your time. Build in some whitespace. Take a breath! But don’t stop! I would encourage you to take one step at a time, one moment at a time, one day at a time, because the work you do is important. The people you serve are important. You are important.
Like the aunts in the clip, we will all be taking those steps together around a metaphorical leaf, but eventually we will all be back on track before we know it.
You may be tempted to dump your marketing budget and PR activities altogether during this time of uncertainty. But I would encourage you to refrain from this practice. I understand maybe cutting back or reallocating, but don’t stop. Maybe you adjust your advertising spend, especially if your business or organization is one that will be closed for any amount of time. I can understand that, but only after you have clearly communicated this closing and your future plans to the best of your abilities to your audience. This, like any other crisis, will pass, and when it does, you don’t want to have lost all momentum. You can continue to build relationships with your customers, donors and clients. Here are a few strategies you might consider implementing:
Create a temporary plan
Use this time of uncertainty to create a temporary communication strategy and messaging to help create some sense of normalcy and keep your brand top of mind. Press pause on your typical marketing campaigns and create a new one that is on brand and timely for this quarter. Plan for what will happen once you have gone around the leaf and are back on track. Having a plan and strategy will help you save time and money. Keeping your lines of communication open will help create some sort of normalcy for those who support you and your organization. This will help them know they are not alone and give them hope that you will be there for them when the dust settles. Dropping off the face of the earth in this out of sight, out of mind world we live in is really not an option.
If you haven’t already been using your online platforms to connect with your audience, now is the perfect time. Create a way for your customers, supporters, and clients to communicate with you virtually. Set up an email communication list with a form on your website and social media so that people can sign up to get regular updates. Assign someone to answer emails, connect with customers on social via posts, comments, and direct messages as well as answering the phone. If they tag you, if they reach out, don’t leave them hanging; be the calming voice on the other end of the phone or tweet. We are here, all is well! If you can deliver your services via FaceTime, Hangout, or Zoom; do so. There is no reason to stop seeing clients in this digital world we live in.
For the non-profits who rely on donations to survive, I know this is going to be even more challenging. Your community has rallied around you before and they will again. Don’t stop telling your story. Your community will rally around you. They will come in and help even if in the final hours. But be sure to have a way for your supporters to easily give online. Remind them through your messaging of how important they are to your mission.
Use this down time to get your data, content, and information organized. If you haven’t before, consider implementing a content tracking system that outlines all your messaging. Use this time to clean it up and be sure it is on brand and amplifying your voice. You can create content to be posted during your peak times. Don’t procrastinate, use your time wisely. If you know you are going to do a Giving Tuesday, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday campaign, or anything else that you may need new content for – create your content now.
If you haven’t before, consider implementing a contact management system. It is time to combine those lists of contacts and customers into a usable solution that will allow you to reach your audience more efficiently and effectively. There are several out there ACT!, Salesforce, Charity Engine, or even MailChimp or Constant Contact. No matter, choose a system that works best for your needs. Create a system that leverages your invaluable content to communicate to your valued contacts that can be used moving forward.
Both of these are pretty heavy tasks and will need manpower, but the beauty of these assignments are that they can all be done virtually on just about any device. This is a perfect way to keep your staff and volunteers engaged during this time.
Once you have the content all generated, use scheduling to get all the posts queued up for delivery during the desired time. Get your engaging, on brand content written. If you have been wanting to do a blog or Vlog, now is the time to write and record it. You know that when the dust settles things will be hectic. So having some of the work done and scheduled out will allow the busy times to come and go and your consistent messaging to reach the right folks. These are tasks your staff can do virtually, allowing them to continue earning income while helping you work ahead.
If you have products or services that will benefit the community during this difficult time, find a way to give back. Maybe you discount the products, maybe you deliver to those who are quarantined to their homes, maybe you use your expertise to create hand sanitizer for your community or teach others to make their own, maybe you offer to help other small businesses by ordering and picking it up later, or maybe you just reach out virtually to those you know might be having a hard time with an encouraging word.
If you normally give back to specific non-profit organizations, please consider still making your contribution. Many count on you to continue to do the good work they are doing. Many are helping those much less fortunate than we are and are especially affected by the disruptions of a crisis.
Take a Moment
If you are used to going, going, going… take a much needed moment of rest. A pause for the cause. Evaluate your schedule, do you have downtime on your calendar? If not, it is time to schedule in some whitespace so your mind, body and soul have time to reset. It is a proven fact that busyness kills creativity and innovation. So while you have some time on your hands, use it to read a book you have wanted to get your hands on for a while, listen to a podcast, reach out to a friend or family member or even connect with nature. If your spiritual journey has taken a backseat to your professional goals, now is a good time to get back to soul keeping. We are some hard working driven beings and while many things during this March madness might be closed, getting outdoors, playing, creating, family, music, reading, singing, laughing and hope are not cancelled. Embrace what we do have and that is time. Use it wisely, because life is short.
We know that as a race we are a resilient bunch and will bounce back after this. We know that this work is best done in community. We know that even in uncertain times, there is something greater than ourselves at work and we can trust that this too shall pass. My prayer for you during this time is for supernatural peace, wisdom, rest, and protection. If you need help, if you want to talk, or even if you want to vent – no judgement we are available for you. Call, text, or email us today; we are here to help you spark something… anything!