You are not alone as many businesses are figuring out how to navigate these times. One of the most important things is to not withdraw and go quiet. While there are many factors that may be influencing you right now, staying visible to your customers, employees, colleagues, and the public is important to sustaining your business in the long run.
On October 29, 2012, SuperStorm Sandy slammed into the Northeastern United States, leaving destruction and devastation in its path. For two years following this disaster, I worked with hundreds of businesses to help them rebuild. While the current situation of a global pandemic reaches all of us, there are many lessons learned from this disaster that will benefit businesses right now.
What businesses learned then and still relevant today is you cannot stick your head in the sand and wait for this to blow over. Now is the time to step up your game and get visible. Since “in-person” marketing and communications are limited during COVID-19, your marketing strategy needs to focus on digital tools and tactics by using communication, engagement, and connection with your customers, clients, and target markets.
Now is not the time to hide behind a corporate entity or brand name or logo. It is important that you're authentic and sharing your current situation. What is your plan? You don't have to hide the fact that this is difficult. You need to have empathy for other people and for yourself and that message needs to be included across all digital formats.
The model I use with my clients to help them create consistent visibility online is called the Business Success Trifecta. It focuses on the three major areas in your digital strategy from where you have the most to least control over your message and online presence: website, email marketing, and social media.
Your audience is searching to find out if you are open and your business’ approach to dealing with the pandemic. This is the top of the list because you have total control over your website and the content on it. As long as you pay your domain and hosting fees, no one can take that away from you.
Take the time to update your business hours and any other relevant information that your customers need to know if they land on your page. You may need to add a banner and/or additional page of to your website outlining your procedures. If you have a blog or podcast, assess if you need to shift your content to be empathic to the times as well as be more consistent in posting. You also need to make sure your website is mobile-friendly/responsive since most people are searching for you on their mobile devices. Click here to check using a free tool from Google.
The second area that you have the most control of your message is in your email marketing. You might have noticed in the early months of shutdowns that you started receiving a variety of emails from brands and businesses. Did you also take this opportunity to communicate with your audience?
Email is important if it's done well and it's done the right way. If you don’t have an email list, this is even more of a reason why you need to start now. Emailing your customers and prospects allows you to communicate directly with them without going through social media channels.
Why is it relevant? We still check our email and contrary to what you might have heard, email is not going away. Use email to update your hours and explain how your business is approaching safety and sanitation so that your customers know what to expect and can make an informed decision to do business with you.
This is the communication tool that you have the least amount of control over. It is rented space. You do not own Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or any of the platforms. And these platforms can change at any time. They can take features away from you or put rules and regulations in place that can hurt you or at least not help you. In fact, Facebook is rolling out a new interface right now, so you can always expect these platforms to keep changing.
It's important to update all of your social media platforms as to your current business situation. The public will search social media to see if you are open or how you are conducting business. If they don’t find the information they need to know, they will move on to someone else.
Take the time to keep your social media platforms updated and consistently post to your pages. Your content strategy should include business updates and community outreach to maintain a mix of information, education, and entertainment. You can promote your products and services but do not only sell.
For step-by-step instructions on implementing your communications strategy to stay visible during COVID-19, click here for my free Smart Restart Checklist.
If you want more detailed tips and instruction, I also presented a webinar for The Creative Coast on strategies and techniques for making your digital presence known during this time of uncertainty.