Guest Blog: Business Communication During COVID-19 & Beyond

As an attorney and entrepreneur with a passion for supporting other entrepreneurs and business owners, I know that now is a more critical time than ever to be bringing valuable information and resources to those that I support. That is why I invited Andrea Dennis (a.k.a. Mrs. Write) to write this guest blog, packed with creative ways for business owners to excel during this time of crisis. I hope you enjoy.

– Erica

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COVID-19, social distancing, and stay-at-home orders… Spring 2020 will sure be a time to remember.

Weeks in, ALL businesses are being forced to shift. In multiple ways. And fast.

— Restaurants and grocery stores are ramping up pickup and delivery services.

— Protective measures of all kinds are being put into place.

— Meetings are now being held via video conference.

And that’s just to name a few of the changes being made to keep employees and customers safe… and businesses not just open, but thriving.

Aside from pivoting how you offer your services and/or products, one key area that can make or break a business’ success at this time is communication. Think about it… what if you never got that email about your favorite restaurant’s new curbside pickup option? What if you didn’t know how your local grocery store is keeping things sanitized? What if you didn’t see that notification from your gym about holding classes on Facebook? What if you didn’t hear about the webinar that ended up giving you crucial info about COVID-19 resources for your business?

It’s hard enough to be outside our normal routines. But without this critical communication from businesses you know, trust, and depend on, chances are you’d feel even uneasier about things. Sooo…. how are your customers, clients, and prospects feeling right about now? Have you shifted to communicate in ways that’s putting them at ease? Bringing them value?

Here are some ways you can do just that…and help you grow:

  1. Consistency is Key

If you depended on foot traffic and/or in person visits “before” COVID-19, you’ve got to find a way to make up for that now. If you didn’t, understand that people are distracted right now. It may be even harder to get on their radar, even at times when you normally would be. So it’s important to reconfigure how you’re going to stay top-of-mind.

A couple of good ways to do that are email marketing and blog posts. If you’ve only dabbled in these previously, it’s now time to get serious about them. Same with social media.

Aim to send an average of 1 email and/or blog post per week. Double dip and use your blog post IN an email. Neither has to be long – think quality over quantity here. And here’s an added bonus with emails and blogs… both are free or very low cost to create and distribute.

As for social media, pick 1 platform where your audience spends the most time and post there 4-6 times a week. Make it even easier and schedule all your posts out at one time so you know it’s done and can move on to the many other things you have on your plate.

TIP: A basic editorial calendar for either or both of these can keep you on track.

  1. Address the Elephant

You’re surely getting lots of COVID-19 emails from businesses. While it might seem excessive and be tempting to just focus on business at hand, don’t. No, you don’t have to communicate about the virus every day, but remember that messages like this make doing business with you easier.

Don’t take for granted that they already know and/or think it’s enough if you’ve only contacted them once. Clients aren’t intimately involved in the inner workings of your business and, frankly, they’re thinking about a lot right now. Not to mention, they may have missed your initial COVID-19 messaging or ever-changing circumstances may have them confused. Periodic updates will not only keep you top-of-mind but also let customers know you’re continuing to value their business enough to keep them in the loop.

  1. Mind Your Message 

What you actually say in your messaging matters a lot, too. Especially right now. As for COVID-19 specifically, your best bet is to stick to the facts. Tell your audience:

— How and when they can contact you at this time

— If your operating hours and/or location have changed

— If working with you will be different than usual (i.e. you’re only video conferencing now)

— If delivery times will be impacted, etc.

Beyond that, shoot for value-packed info that’s actually useful to your customers and prospects. Sure, sprinkle in some sales content here and there, but remember that millions are out of work right now. This is the beauty of providing benefit-driven content. Those who are able to buy now, will. But if you bring enough value and expertise, those who aren’t able to buy now will remember you later when they’re back on their feet.

  1. Think Outside Your Normal Marketing Box

Between social distancing and some even having concerns over the physical mail being sent to them, the fact is your usual marketing strategies aren’t likely to cut it anymore. While a shift to digital marketing has been well in the works for years, all signs are now pointing to digital methods during COVID-19 and beyond.

Webinars (live and recorded), online courses, e-books, video series, and more are not only incredible ways to tell your customers and prospects about your products and services, they’re also highly effective ways to revamp your products and services altogether. Add in social media advertising and you have a cost effective and highly targeted method to reach more prospects than you ever could have dreamed of with your traditional marketing strategies.

  1. Don’t Forget the Media

Trade and local media may be hungry for content while news about the virus takes centerstage. So well-written content from you could be more than welcome.

Keep celebrating your wins and notable news with press releases to local and/or trade media. And if you have ideas or strategies others in your industry or local area could benefit from, written-for-them articles could make it right into a publication’s next issue.

  1. Prepare for the Future

Think back to when the COVID-19 crisis first started. Did you find yourself unprepared? Were your directors all on different pages? Did employees not know what the plan was? Were customers frustrated without clarity? If you’d like to prevent similar confusion during the next crisis – like a hurricane coming to your area, the death of an associate, or a burst water pipe in your office – you need a Crisis Communications Plan.

COVID-19 presents a critical time for not only communicating well with your customers and prospects but also shifting your communications to better meet new demands. But do we really need to go through all these changes? What if it’s all just back to business as usual? Frankly, we just have no idea what’s going to happen. It may never again be business as we’ve known it before and, at the very least, buying habits and professional practices will likely have gone through a permanent transformation. Make sure your business is ready.

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Don’t know where to start… or don’t have time with all the other areas of business you’re trying to keep afloat in these uncertain times? With more than 20 years in copywriting and public relations – in industries from zoos to dentistry – I can help. Take a quick visit online to learn a little more about me at www.findingmrswrite.com, and feel free to contact me directly at 941.448.8249 or andrea@findingmrswrite.com.

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This blog was written by our contributor, Andrea Dennis, to bring you valuable information and resources.

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