Our world, at least for the time being, is changing rapidly and dramatically.
In-person interaction is retracting or ceasing altogether, depending on where you are located. (And expect things to change again this afternoon or tomorrow morning.) This is an unprecedented step in the business world.
For me, the wake-up call hit me smack in the face when I saw the early March headlines that big name companies were pulling out of SXSW. This was followed days later by the complete cancellation of the highly-anticipated annual festival in Austin, Texas.
At that point in time I realized we were going to have to make some changes to the way we do business – as it was no longer business as usual.
Some important marketing elements have some to a screeching halt – with basically no time to prepare – such as all in-person events where groups come together: trade shows, conferences, expos, networking events, and related.
We’ll be seeing in the coming days what happens with smaller meetings – do they continue in person as planned? Will there be differences in the answer to the question based on the part of the country where you live?
So what do we do from here?
- This is new to us all
Remember that this type of action has never happened before and it’s new to everyone. Be patient and understanding when things don’t go quite as expected. We will all get through this together.
- Control the “controllable”
There are just going to be things you can’t control at this point. Be OK with that. Focus on handle the issues and opportunities you can control today.
- Use technology, such as Zoom, Skype, Go-To Meeting, even the phone to replace in-person meetings.
We will all modify how we meet with clients, partners, and our internal teams for the time being. Don’t skip the meetings that can’t take place in person, but instead change the format.
Many are already using this a great deal – but its use will continue to rise.
- Rely more on social media
This will be one of the most important ways to remind your audiences you are there.
People will need to connect with others on social more than ever – and I expect that many will turn to LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, etc. more than ever to stay connected. But, and this is an important but, make sure you use it with relevant messaging and with the right tone (read on).
And, keep in mind that social media use will be increasing as people become more isolated. There will be a LOT of messaging floating around out there.
- Tap into your database
You have your database – but do you use it effectively? Do you use it at all? Now is the time to examine where you are with this valuable asset. Paired with the right content, your database is a valuable tool.
- Find ways to replace what you planned to accomplish at trade shows
Many businesses have invested in trade shows for this spring – but now these events won’t be happening. Ideas – see if you can use the event database to communicate with the attendees, hold a virtual workshop, create a video with messaging, etc.
- Messaging and content
Ensure your message is relevant in today’s environment. What was a relevant message last week may be completely dated today (or tomorrow).Make sure your value proposition holds true, and modify your offering if it comes to that, if possible. If needed, go completely dark for a while. No message is much better than a bad, non-relevant message. We noticed that some consumer brands went dark in the immediate days after things really heated up with the pandemic. Sometimes that is the right thing to do – but then you take your time and figure out what message will contribute to the conversation.It is essential you check and double check your message before you send it out – make sure it will be received in the way you intend. And yes, you should always apply this rule, but now it is more important than ever.And finally, make sure your tone is sincere and you are authentic. This is where it can be so helpful to share your content with an “outsider” to see what his or her take is on your content, and make sure your message will be received in the way you intend.
Be ready to pivot and change as things progress from day-to-day. And above all else, be ready to help others be successful. This is the time that businesses need to come together, share ideas, collaborate, and provide resources and support whenever possible.
At ECS, one of our core principles is to help and support businesses and people. If there is anything we can do to help you, please don’t hesitate to contact any of us on the team.
If at any point you have questions or want to bounce a communications idea off of a fresh set of eyes, reach out to Managing Partner, Bill Morrow (firstname.lastname@example.org, or on LinkedIn here); or Marketing Lead, Laurel Cavalluzzo (email@example.com, or on LinkedIn here).