Communicating in Today’s Environment

In light of the monumental business challenges COVID-19 is presenting, we’re sharing some thinking on how to communicate with and engage your customers during these ever-changing times.
 
As business leaders, our first concern is the health and safety of our team members, colleagues, guests and families. But, we’re also continuing to run our businesses. And, it’s anything but business as usual.
 
Adapting our communication, our engagement, and yes, our marketing, is extremely important right now. This is the conversation our team is continually having based on new information, observations, and personal experiences as customers, and we’d like to share a few headlines:
 
It’s not business as usual.
We have to authentically acknowledge that we’re all going through some really challenging times. We’re all vulnerable right now, there are no silver bullet answers, and that’s okay. Interestingly enough, that admission alone puts you on important common ground with your customers and key audiences. We’re all in this together.
 
Meet your customers where they are.
The news is changing hourly – and sometimes even faster. Schools are out. Public gatherings are being canceled. Restaurants and businesses are modifying how they serve customers or closing altogether. Our schedules are being turned upside-down and we’re having to quickly change behaviors. People are concerned for their children, or they’re worrying about their aging parents and grandparents. Predictability feels like a pipe dream.
 
Now is not the time to sell.
But, we’re in business, you might say. Not “selling” doesn’t make sense. When people are in a tumultuous state of concern, traditional marketing is white noise. Even worse, in times of crisis, marketing the same way with the same messages can be received as thoughtless, unsympathetic or opportunistic. That certainly doesn’t translate to “going dark” with all marketing messages. Instead, it’s time to hit the pause button and consider how your messaging will land in today’s climate. Use your online, email and social media channels to adapt your messaging.  
 
Be available and supportive for your customers.
Right now, it’s time to understand what the true needs of your customers are, and to be available for them. You may have a great product, a great experience or the next big thing – but that’s not what people want to hear about right now. They know what you do, and they’ll reach out, visit, and purchase based on their own terms.  
 
How you communicate in this new normal speaks volumes, now and in the future and can set you up for success. Authentically relating to where your customers’ heads are at – and ensuring your communication reflects that – will actually strengthen your customer relationships. They’ll like and trust you more. And, they’ll want to do more business with you as a result, as this passes.  And rest assured, it will pass.
 
Stay safe, smart and healthy,
 
Kim
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