Have you got a communication strategy?
Do you have a marketing plan?
When you considered your social media posting for 2020, had you accounted for a pandemic?
The thing is, no matter how well you’ve previously defined your strategy, it’s possible the current situation has had you questioning your position and direction.
What impact should outside changes have on how we run our business?
Our products may not have changed, our clients may not have changed, but their motivation – and therefore our message – may need to change.
Or does it?
Being consistent through times of change will reassure people, reinforcing your value as an expert who understands their subject and continues to show its relevance. By recognising how your business can provide value through times of change, you can keep your message consistent and continue to build your worth even as your business adapts.
Don’t disappear, instead identify those areas of your offering which are valuable in the situation as it is now.
If your clients needs have changed, identify your role in meeting their new needs. This is a new situation for everybody but if they trust you, be the support they need in the area which concerns them.
- As a business coach, no one is going to expect you to have the answers to their medical concerns but they will appreciate your understanding about business planning in unusual times.
- As a photographer you won’t be able to provide your usual studio sessions, but sharing framing and editing tips for those taking their own photos, will add huge value to your audience.
Make sure you have a good understanding of your existing offering, and – most importantly – how it is valued by your existing clients. This will enable you to consider how you can provide similar value from new channels. And, if you’re not sure, ask questions of your network to see what kind of support they need now – you may be surprised.
So what does this visibility look like?
Your Social Media Presence
It can seem difficult to post if you don’t know what to say or you’re nervous about saying the wrong thing. If you don’t have anything of benefit to say, it’s absolutely right to say nothing, but don’t underestimate the value you can offer. As I’ve already mentioned, your traditional message may not seem relevant now, but there are likely to be things you can share which other people would benefit from.
Understand the side benefits of the products and services you offer, often it is the emotional benefits which mean people choose you rather than others providing the same service. With this as the focus, you can develop ways to provide those benefits differently. If you provide a social space can you bring it online? If you provide a service, can you give your clients advice on doing it themselves?
Your Email List
Don’t be one of those company’s who, having not emailed in years, decides now is the time to tell everyone on how important the right pair of shoes is in a pandemic.
But, if you have a built a good relationship through your email list, people who trust you will want to hear what you have to say. The right support from the right people is invaluable when we’re feeling a little lost, so use this platform to be there for your network.
If, like me, you’ve built your business through networking, the loss of physical networking meetings might be a concern. But online networking has given us alternatives which we might not have sought out before. Maybe you can attend meetings which previously you’d have avoided because of location or timing. While physical and time restrictions may still have an impact, these concerns will likely have changed.
But, be realistic about what you want out of the meetings, give proper consideration to the best use of your time and enjoy the opportunities available from new groups.
Yes, it’s likely your message will have to adapt to the current concerns of your audience, but it must stay true to you and your business values.
As I mentioned before, it’s essential you understand what values guide your business and how they support your clients. This understanding will help you identify those areas in which you can offer support going forward.
But, how can you be consistent when everything is so different?
One thing I often talk about is the balance required in our lives when we’re running a business. And this struggle has now changed with most of us managing our work in a different environment- whether we’re at home instead of the office, with family instead of solitude, or dealing with deliveries instead of customers – things are different.
But, it’s different for everyone, and as each of us are coming to terms with change, my focus has been to communicate clearly and manage the pressure on myself.
- Communicating with clients, make sure your message is clear. How you do this will be your decision, but having information easily available on websites and social media might be step one. You could also consider automatic email replies and an update to your email signature, to show your current availability.
- You may choose to use tools to schedule your social media feed for easier management.
- Think about how you can build some flexibility into your diary.
It may not be easy, or foolproof, but if you’re open and honest with those you are working with you’ll be able to take away some of the pressure of a strange situation.
Yes, we’re all looking at pivoting
I’m going back to my previous point, if your usual offering is no longer appropriate you’ll need to find other ways to support your network. This isn’t about changing your business, it’s about identifying areas where people’s new needs match your skills and knowledge so you can support them.
It’s not about developing a new range of products or a new business model to replace your existing one, it’s about creating a supporting structure which will allow you to strengthen your brand – hopefully with tools and offerings which will continue to be relevant in the future.
Your Core Business
You are unlikely to want to fundamentally change your products or services, your client base or your message – if that’s on the cards you’ll need more help than I can give you.
So, I’ll say it again, this is the time to make sure you really understand where you are now so you can serve your audience better.
- Understand your products and services. Identifying which bits work and who for, will allow you to share your knowledge in different ways which are more appropriate now.
- Understanding your clients – each one with their different needs and wants – is essential when you need to identify which new worries you can help with now.
- Understanding the values which your work consistently supports will show you what your clients appreciate about you. Use these values to inspire your new ideas.
Consistency is about sticking with the principles from which you’ve built your brand and, through that, strengthening it and your relationships.
When you’re feeling unsure about your next steps, understanding your strengths is the way to build a strong and confident future.