Uncertainty. We can all agree that’s one word that sums up the next few weeks. Or maybe even months. By now we’re all too familiar with COVID-19 and the changes it has brought to every facet of our lives. If you’re a business owner wrestling with what to do next, marketing might be one of many things on your mind. Should you proceed with business as usual? Should your marketing be paused until further notice? Should you address the pandemic or let it be? We’re here with some thoughts on how to adapt to an ever-changing situation.
It’s a strange and stressful time. Nobody wants to pretend that it’s not. That’s why we recommend acknowledging what’s happening in the world in a way that makes sense for your business. Whether it’s a phone call, a video conference, a blog post or an email – honest communication is critical during tough times. Each one of us needs to decide what that looks like in our individual businesses but there is a hierarchy to your communications we’d encourage you to follow.
You want those closest to you to hear your news first. No one ever wants their employees to hear an update about the company from the news or the web. Think of it like dropping a pebble in a pond. When you drop that pebble, rings begin to form. Those rings are how you should be thinking about your communications right now.
First ring – your team. Will day-to-day operations change? Are you transitioning to 100% remote? Communicate with your team first any news that impacts their day-to-day. Making sure your team knows the plan and addressing their questions and concerns should be your first priority.
Second ring – customers, investors and partners. Your operations most likely impact your customers’ operations, especially if you are a key supplier. Much like the information you shared with your team, share the steps you’re taking to protect employees and customers along with your business continuity plan.
Third ring – vendors, suppliers and prospects. Will your needs change over the course of the next 30 days? Are you going to be pausing any services or products they provide? It is a challenge to be able to say with certainty what the next month may look like. But being honest and transparent about what the next 30 days likely holds for your business will give you a lot of grace and goodwill for the future.
Once you’ve reached out to those core groups, it may be time to address the general public. We’re receiving media requests for several of our clients and many are using this opportunity to share how their companies are adapting especially if they are providing essential services.
We know it sounds self-serving. But as others go quiet, you’re able to gain a louder share of voice if you continue to invest your marketing dollars. While we all adjust to these changing times, buyers are becoming aware of new needs and entering the buyer’s journey. Creating the content they seek as they realize those needs and explore solutions is one of the best roles marketing can serve right now. Buyers may not progress as quickly as before to the decision stage due to budgetary concerns. But you can rest assured that when they do, you’ll be a contender.
So, take this time and give your blog an overhaul with new content or give a few of your best pieces a refresh. Start planning a new creative ad campaign or use the POST planning process to see the benefits of investing in advertising on social networks. Focusing on your marketing may not provide instant results, but when the storm passes, customers will remember your efforts.
Start something new
That initiative that’s been swirling in your head, but you’ve been too busy to launch? Now is the time to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard!) and begin planning. This is especially true for those large technology initiatives that you’ve wanted to start but have been wondering how to take the first bite of the elephant. Up until this point, most dev teams have been slammed. But with some businesses slowing down, your dev team might welcome a new project with a smile. We also know many technology vendors are cutting deals for folks looking to get on a new tech platform, be it an ERP or marketing automation. Moving to a cloud-based ERP, creating a portal, adding e-commerce or self-service to your website – it makes sense to start tackling these types of projects now.
If you’re thinking, “But this new project takes cash, ODEA!!,” we understand the challenge with investing in a new project during uncertain times. But by diving into the planning process, you’ll feel like you have a better understanding of how this initiative will impact your cash flow.
Many of us are needing to pivot and change core areas of our businesses. Or we’re adding new ways of doing things. What we may not know is how many of those changes are temporary versus how many are permanent. Did you know that while in quarantine from the plague, Sir Isaac Newton discovered gravity? Inspiring. We ourselves are taking that inspiration and using it to power our own pivot – adding a way for solo entrepreneurs and smaller businesses to gain marketing knowledge and mentorship (more on that soon!).
So that crazy idea you had in between worrying about the state of the world? Talk it out with your team or another business owner. It just might not be that crazy after all.
(Most importantly) Be kind
The next 30 days will come with a lot of questions. But one thing we never question at ODEA is the power of kindness. So, as we push forward through this month and the next, remember to show compassion and kindness in all that you do. From an internal team meeting, to a call with a prospective client, to answering a Facebook message – kindness counts. Brands will be remembered by our actions during this crisis. Those who strive to do good during difficult times will be the ones that consumers remember when the world is a little less stressful. May we all do our part to be kind and stay healthy!
If have a question about how to keep your marketing going during this difficult time, reach out to ODEA. We’re here to help! Give us a shout here or drop us a line at [email protected].