Updated: Mar 17, 2020
I know it feels like the world is coming to an end. Our society is so interconnected that the dominoes have begun to fall. I come from the events industry, so I first began to see the impact of the Covid-19 when major events started canceling (ie. SXSW and it's 400,000 attendees). The cancellation of major events has begun to devastate airlines, restaurants, hotels and so many others involved in the ecosystem of event marketing, which has now trickled down further to general public gatherings (now over 10 people not allowed in the US). However this post is not about reiterating the doom and gloom, I am writing this post to speak to all the small businesses and other entrepreneurs that make up the fabric of our society on how we can continue to positively support each other and our community.
This is crisis communications 101, I am beginning to see emails from larger brands communicate their support during this terrible time.
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What I loved about these examples is they were able to showcase very clearly how their product or service can directly impact and support social distancing to try and maintain productivity.
As I am writing this post, daycares have not yet decided to close down so as a small business owner, I am able to continue to keep my doors open. However, tomorrow if the situation changes, my husband and I have already discussed our plan to try to continue to remain productive and care for our son - here's hoping for the best! So how can you help uplift our society in this challenging time?
1. Communicate if you are open or closed - don't leave your customers up in limbo to wonder if you are working or not. Set expectations, even if it is for that short term that you are available or unavailable. Remember this needs to be done in real-time, so as changes in your business occur continue to keep your audience up to date.
Communicate where your customers are:
All social accounts
In your email signature
On your website
2. Set expectations - If it is taking you longer than expected to respond or schedule appointments - be clear about that. If you are experiencing many cancellations (I wouldn't advertise this) I would communicate that there is a decreased wait time to receive an appointment.
3. Show your support - If you can't add value at least share that your brand is willing to rally, send positive thoughts or express if you can help those who are unable to gather supplies themselves (ie. be a good neighbour).
4. Embrace the opportunity - For some of our businesses (namely the ones I have mentioned below), there may be a marketing angle you can adopt to help the community during this trying time. Take the time to think deeply about the product or service you offer, the audience you serve and how can you honestly help. This is the time to get your "thinking hat" on (as my mother used to say) and position yourself as supportive authority to get through this crisis. Don't get my words twisted, no, I am not talking about the "hustlers" reselling toilet paper and hand sanitizers for absurd amounts of money.
We Need You...
Here are some examples of companies who can provide high value during this difficult time:
1. Home cleaners - As the opt-in to self-isolate / socially distance continues there will be a need to sanitize to ensure a customer's home remains their sanctuary.
FREE MARKETING TIP: Curate a campaign to communicate you are open/ have the capacity. I suggest new customers get a discount.
2. Mortgage brokers - So many changes have been coming from the Bank of Canada, keep the lines of communication open and tell your audience what this means for them (in plain English).
FREE MARKETING TIP: Relate this back to your products, is this a good time to refinance?
3. Real Estate agents - Spring is usually a very strong season for home sales, so Covid-19 could be coming at a very inopportune time. Perhaps focus on the positives of what staying home means for prospective home sellers - ie. perfect time to declutter.
FREE MARKETING TIP: Provide open and honest real-time feedback (on social or email) on how the market is being impacted, this will create trust and you will be keeping top of mind with your prospects.
4. Child care centers - If the government doesn't mandate a closure and some of your clientele does opt for social distancing and you have drop-in space available, I am sure that would be an amazing
FREE MARKETING TIP: Create a campaign (on social/ groups) to communicate the measures your center is taking and what that means for your availability
5. Personal trainers/fitness centers - Some companies in the North Vancouver Moms in Business group are doing an amazing job transitioning into online classes, keep it up!
FREE MARKETING TIP: Consider creating a Facebook Ad for your online class, the first class is free.
6. Travel Advisors / Event Managers - I know it may be tempting to promote amazing travel deals during this pandemic, however, I don't think it's quite the right time. You can, however, be an amazing resource for all tips / news related to traveling and COVID-19. Take this opportunity to establish yourself as an authority and build trust with your community by demonstrating your knowledge and commitment during this crisis.
FREE MARKETING TIP: Get involved in the conversation in pages, groups and on profiles (really where ever you see the conversation taking place) to demonstrate your knowledge and awareness.
7. Photographers - Your schedule may have completely changed due to the crisis. How about showing some love and support to all those couples who have to postpone their big day?
FREE MARKETING TIP: Perhaps you will make that deposit refundable so it reduces their stress, but if they keep you as their photographer you will through in an exclusive bonus. I bet you will be the only vendor that the couple sings their praises about, that will be worth its weight in free marketing!
8. Doctors/Dentists' offices - I would love to hear about what your office is doing to continue to keep your staff safe and "test" those customers who are coming through the door for their appointments.
FREE MARKETING TIP: How about making your social posts more people-centric and showcase the team who is behind the scenes. This will allow your audience to emotionally engage and promote the amazing front line work you are doing.
If your company type has not been listed and you are curious about how to proceed, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let's figure it out! I am offering a FREE 30-minute consultation to anyone who needs it.
We can do this, and we will get through this!