This week, I was asked to participate in a webinar on the topic "Business As Usual Is Cancelled - Now What Do We Do?"
As major trade shows and events are cancelled, many businesses are left scrambling to find ways to replace the expected traffic, conversations, demonstrations and sales leads. Shifting on the fly is not always easy.
I was able to join Cary Weston of Sutherland Weston in Bangor, Maine and Josslynne Welch from Litzky PR in Hoboken, NJ to share some practical short and medium-term tactics to help keep your business visible and adjust to what faces us moving forward.
Three takeaways from our conversation were:
1. Authenticity always
We are living in a rare, universally shared human experience, so feel free to be real. This doesn't mean you should be unprofessional, but this is not business as usual. You're hiding from the children and trying to work. It's stressful. Connect. Ask how people are doing. This is a nice deviation from "norms" - you might make some new connections.
If you're a formal brand, try and let your hair down a little bit. People appreciate the human connection.
As Dharmesh Shah, co-founder of Hubspot posted on LinkedIn this week:
Note To Self: Nobody minds when your kid, spouse or cats wander into the frame during a video meeting. Quit being embarrassed and apologetic.*
* One could make the case that this makes you more human and relatable, just like having conversations like this one in your head.
2. Be helpful
The memes abound, but we've all certainly found out who has our email address. If you're contacting customers about current events, make it helpful information for them. Be relevant, timely, and answer their questions/solve their problems. They don't need a link to the CDC or a tutorial on washing hands. We got that. How does your product or service help them right now? What do they need to know that has recently changed? If you don't have much to say, wait until you do.
3. Keep Going, Try Some Things
It doesn't mean that business is shut down. Sure, some people might not be in a buying mood at the moment (depending on your product or service), but you can be helpful and stay connected. Help them, build trust.
Have a little extra time? Try a new tactic. Record a video post, write something. Everyone's got a low production value right now, so it's a great time to jump in and try. Your kid can hold your camera!
- Ask! Your request is so much more likely to be seen right now, and people are bored (or so I hear, they must not have a 3 year old at home). Is there a celebrity or influencer who would be great for your brand or cause? Reach out and ask - the worst they can do is say no.
- We all know events are pivoting online - it may not be as good as the real thing, but still try! People want to participate. You may just need more people for a virtual event rather than a live one (especially if you're raising money for a cause), so spread your net a bit wider.
- Digital media ads are cheaper right now - this could be a good time to spend a little money if you have it and get more bang for your buck. If sales aren't possible right now, build your audience!
- Plug your holes. You need every lead right now. Make sure that you're capturing them on your site with the right forms, permissions, and follow up emails. Don't let people slip through the cracks unintentionally.
You can watch the full, unedited version of the webinar as well if you have an extra hour.