How to maintain business communication, connection in the wake of coronavirus
Tools and techniques to build a virtual communication strategy
Marketing and business development are all about connection.
It has always been about who you know, where you go, who you meet, and how you relate to each other. The current global health crisis is presenting Colorado business owners with the unique challenge of how to remain relevant to customers and other professional networks when we are unable to see each other in-person or gather in groups. Clear and open communication is even more crucial now with the global coronavirus pandemic as its backdrop.
While we are at home scrambling to figure out what normal looks like right now for our businesses, taking care of ourselves and trying to keep our children occupied, we need to assess our virtual communication strategies. Here are some quick ideas on how to pivot your existing marketing plan with smart messaging that will benefit your business and your clients.
Now is the time to be clever and thoughtful about your digital communication strategy. If you have an email marketing campaign, it is easy enough to increase your communication with your clients through that channel. When people are working from home, they will be checking their email regularly and your business should be proactive about creating messaging through this method. You may need to anticipate preparing your subscribers for a possible service interruption in your business and you can balance this type of serious information with sharing the proactive ways your team is committed to keeping our community safe.
Your website will play a big role in keeping your audience engaged with your brand. Even if your physical location has been closed temporarily, you can continue to provide products and services information through your website. Some businesses are offering internet-only deals, others are serving as a hub for information regarding the virus.
There are also those that are creatively transitioning to new ways of delivering their services. For example, a makeup artist is offering video consultations instead of in-person makeovers, complete with a written recap and beauty products delivered straight to her clients’ doorsteps. A corporate attorney has curated information about small business resources and loans and is disseminating it to their network.
Social media will be your business’ best friend in the coming months. Social media posting is a quick and easy way to stay relevant to your audience. Be sure to post information about your industry or the problems that your company solves. Tone down the sales aspect and focus on informing and serving your clientele.
If you provide a service that will offer relief during these times, strategize about how you can serve before thinking about how you can sell. Zoom, the video conferencing software, unsurprisingly surged in popularity since the pandemic, becoming the third most downloaded app, with more than 300,000 new subscribers. Instead of monetizing this new audience, Zoom’s CEO offered its usual paid services for free to K-12 schools, nonprofits and community organizations, something the company has shared with its increased social media following. Good business Karma can go a long way. And it's just the right thing to do.
A forward-thinking company should consider posting messages of gratitude to the grocery store and healthcare industry workers that have been on the frontlines of illness in order to support the needs of our community. Additional posts could center around ideas on what to do when your kids are at home and even how to connect with your business in a remote way (i.e. videoconferencing, text messaging, etc.). Social media will now be even more than ever an accessible method of staying top of mind to the people who already know, like, and trust your business.
Video is one of the best ways that a business can continue to make a personal connection with its audience during this time. If you are a consultant, you can provide virtual care options for your clients or even convert all previously scheduled lunches and coffee meetings to videoconferencing calls. Your company can also provide explainer videos to your audience on issues that are affecting them right now.
For example, a law firm could provide an animated explainer video on force majeure clauses and how they could affect business clients. Amid dealing with a public health crisis, video is one of the best ways to maintain a personal connection with your clients while providing valuable information.
Many business owners have realized from the infancy of this epidemic that we are in a crisis, and that they need to pay attention to how, why and what they communicate. One misstep can be fatal to a business, and this can feel like uncharted territory. However, following some basic ground rules can help guide you in this uncertain time.
Digital is different
Emails and social media messaging need to take this into consideration. It can be difficult to discern tone in an email. Be especially cognizant of this when communicating with colleagues, clients and your community. With your emails, maintain a friendly tone, emphasize a commitment to your work and relay a sense of comradery during this. This will create a message of good will and good business.
Message is key–use the right words
Digital communication needs to be clearer than ever before. When you speak with someone on the phone or see them on video, you can pick up on the social cues, facial expressions, body language and voice intonations that make language and communication richer and more easily understandable.
These interpretative tools are mostly absent in digital marketing communications. Be sure to choose words that inspire confidence in your businesses decisions and show the strength of the evidence supporting the decision. Choice of language is crucial to imparting tone and confidence in the message.
Plan, plan, plan
Clear and open communication has a theme. What will your theme be? What is your business’ story? Think about that before you post and email. Consider what tone you want to strike and how you can continue telling your business’ current story through your posts, emails and digital communication. Just because it is virtual does not mean it can be any less professional, prepared, or delivered with any less attention to detail.
Serve your clients and your community
Many businesses want to continue with a “business as usual” attitude to reassure and retain their clients. Letting your clients and community know that you are still there to serve them, just with different tools, is a great thing. Neglecting to review your current marketing plan so that tone deaf emails and social media posts continue to bombard your clients is not. You need to show your community that you are aware of and adapting to the current situation.
So – take a deep breath and explore the plentiful online platforms and digital resources available and find the ones that best work for your business. Harness these techniques to communicate with a sincere and clear plan that will help your clients stay connected with you and maintain trust and confidence in your business.