I never struggle to write a title for a blog.
And I certainly never would have thought my second blog here would be about a pandemic. But here we are. And by the time I get to the end of writing this, I certainly hope I’ve come up with something better than “We’re All in This Together”.
Mostly because now I have High School Musical stuck in my head.
So about that pandemic….how do you even begin to navigate that as a business owner? You have to market and sell your product and services to keep your business going, but the world is upside down.
The other day, one of my clients asked how my other clients were doing. What they were going through and how they were navigating things. This particular client is facing a pretty uncertain next month, like many of us, and I think it was comforting for him to hear that my other clients were just as uncertain as he was.
Business owner, employee, self-employed, freelancer, whatever – we’re all a little scared. It’s comforting, at least a bit, to hear that others are facing the same fear we all are.
My home county just instituted our own “Stay at Home” order for the next 30 days, and it somewhat feels like NOW we can plan. Because for a minute there, it felt like we could barely plan for the next hour, let alone tomorrow or next month.
But how do we sell in this climate?
I love Mark Schaefer’s blog last week where he asked us marketers to be mindful that we’re selling to a customer base that’s experiencing some sort of grief.
To me, that’s step 1. Be mindful that the world has drastically changed in the last few weeks. Don’t market like nothing is happening. Even if all you do is adjust your tone, or weave in a few reassurances, it’s not “business as usual” for anyone. Don’t let your target audience think you’re hiding under a rock.
Don’t stop your message. Pivot.
Whatever you were doing back in February probably won’t work anymore. Even if you’re one of the ones who had to close up shop because your business is “non-essential” (kind of stings, huh?), don’t stop. Keep in front of your community.
This is where your social media is KEY. People are now home, either working remotely with kids underfoot, or not working at all. They’re sharing all of the memes, connecting with friends over Zoom and Google Hangouts, and trying to find some semblance of normal in this really weird world.
Be where they are in the digital space. Stay on top of your social game, and focus on organic. Build your community. People are already connected with your business. Focus on the ones that can’t wait for you to re-open and speak directly to them. And for a great idea of how to do that, go check out Krissy Buck’s blog on building your online community.
Focus on Connection
Don’t sell, but focus on connecting. If you were in their shoes, what would you want to hear, to see, to interact with? What are YOU missing about YOUR business, because I’ll bet money you’re your own customer some days.
For one of our clients, we shot videos prior to the SAH order that we can release throughout the month, as well as family-friendly downloads, activities, and more.
Another friend is keeping in front by posting videos every other day, helping her clients feel connected to her even though they no longer see her every day.
We have more clients shifting their focus to add in email marketing, helping their customers keep in touch on all the rapid changes. We’re also creating shareable, engaging content for their social and posting in local COVID-impacted groups for their services.
Here’s the thing – and I said this before – no one is unaffected by this. Even if the worst thing you’re facing is you can’t find any damn toilet paper, we’re all dealing with this together. I have absolutely LOVED seeing the Wichita and local communities come together and purposefully buy from local restaurants, encourage gift card sales, etc.
Maybe your best connection is doing what you can to help others and asking your community to pitch in.
But work on building that connection and the sales will come, because you put your customers first instead of yourself.
Marketing never stops. It just changes.
I’ve been dealing with my own feelings of a loss of normalcy and knowing that the world will never be the same again. But the world has gone through world-changing events multiple times and been just fine.
Marketing is the same. We certainly market differently now than we did in the 20s, 40s, 60s, and even 80s, but we’re all just focused on getting our message out to our ideal buyer. The “how” is the only thing that really changes.
If you’ve got some time on your hands the next 30 days or so, plan. Set up processes. Read the comments, questions, messages, and more that your customers have left you over the years and find the patterns for the things they are constantly asking for. Lean into that, and stay in front of them.
Just remember that they, too, are confused.