When you’re defining a strategy to get your business through a crisis, relying on gut feelings may lead you into making fatal choices.
In difficult times, it’s tempting to curl up in a ball, hold tight and hide behind the sofa until the worst is over.
In less metaphorical terms, when you are aware that your customers and prospects are trying to salvage their own businesses, or strapped for cash, it seems insensitive to continue emailing them with content and offers.
Perhaps you’ve decided that the most tactful approach for your community is to ‘go dark’ – switching off all communications completely and stop bothering them until the situation improves.
These reactions are understandable, when threatened, our natural instinct is to run away, or make ourselves small. Very few come out fighting, this has huge risks, and can lead to broken bones or bruised egos.
But, following your natural instinct in this case is a mistake. As difficult as it seems right now, you do need to come out fighting if you want to survive. That gut feeling making you want to curl up in a ball is a dud one. It could lead you into making one of these mistakes that commonly made by businesses during a crisis.
Mistake 1: Stopping all communications.
Whether you are in a state of shock, unable to continue serving your clients, or unsure how to get the message right so that it doesn’t offend, it’s tempting to say nothing.
I’ve noticed that lots of businesses I used to hear from on a regular basis have stopped communicating completely. Is that old adage – if you don’t have anything good to say, say nothing at all – at work? It may feel crass or insensitive to keep emailing or posting on social media, but here’s why you should:
- You may think your customers aren’t in a position to buy from you right now, but this could be an assumption on your part. People still need things, and lots of them are still buying and supporting their favourite brands.
- Maybe you can’t sell right now, but when this is over (and please let that be soon!) your customers will return to you, as long as they still remember about you. If you go quiet, they could forget about you or assume that you have gone out of business, or they could have switched allegiance to your competitor who kept communicating.
- You can strengthen your brand, and even increase goodwill towards it by continuing to support, inspire and educate your communities even if (especially if) you have nothing, or only a limited offering to sell to them right now. For example, Biscuiteers can show us how to be ‘of service’ to customers; it has been providing ideas for entertaining the kids, recipes and tutorials on an almost daily basis.
Fix this by: Reworking your content plan. Make a list of ways that you could support your community via your communications and start getting back in contact. Consider a new style or medium for communication if necessary (i.e. perhaps you need to start making personal calls to your customers instead of emailing them, depending on your audience, social media might seem more appropriate than email right now).
Need some ideas to get you started? Check out our brand new free download – 8 ways to keep in touch with your customers, even if you can’t sell to them right now – which will help you think of ways to keep in touch, add value and increase loyalty with your customers, all without having to do a hard sell.
Mistake 2: Failing to adapt your communication style and content.
Yes, we are saying ‘keep communicating’ but we aren’t saying that you should blithely carry on as though nothing has changed. It’s important to adjust your tone, the type of content, and copy so that it is in keeping with the current market conditions, sensitive to the problems being experienced by your community, and tactful.
Most importantly, your messaging must meet them where they are right now. Perhaps you can serve them in different ways from what you usually offer. Maybe they have new problems that you can solve. You must draw their attention to how you can do this right now, to keep your business alive.
We have made changes ourselves by adding a set of ‘online marketing services’ that are super-cost effective, and targeted to new problems that service-based businesses are dealing with right now.
Fix this by: Reviewing and updating website content, social media bios, lead magnet copy and email nurturing sequences to make sure that they are all communicating in a style and tone that is appropriate.
Mistake 3: Assuming your niche hasn’t changed.
There’s a good chance that customers you’ve typically been selling to have stopped buying. While this is heart-breaking for you, and terrifying in terms of revenue, it doesn’t mean that your business is on the way out.
Perhaps there is another niche that has suddenly opened up for you as a result of the corona virus lockdown. Instead of pivoting your offerings, it might be a question of pivoting to serve a new market. For example, if you are a personal trainer, under usual conditions your business would only be able to offer services to people who are geographically near to you, as you would typically be working face to face. Now, if you have switched your classes to online, you are no longer constrained by geography and you have a much bigger market to sell into. Not only that, but people who were daunted by the idea of one-to-one workouts might be happier to spend money on an online training session done by themselves in the privacy of their own home.
Fix this by: Having a rethink. What does altering the way you do business mean for the people you can serve now? Has your audience changed? Have the problems you solve for them changed? How can you adapt your marketing strategy to capture a new audience?
I’m not saying this is going to be easy. Putting yourself or your business ‘out there’ is always uncomfortable. But, the more you do it, the more we ALL do it, the more likely we are to survive.
If you need inspiration, remember to check out our free download – 8 ways to keep in touch with your customers, even if you can’t sell to them right now – which will help you think of ways to keep in touch, add value and increase loyalty with your customers, all without having to do a hard sell.