Everywhere we turn, the only thing people are talking about is the global pandemic, the impact that COVID-19 will have on the economy, and how to survive it from both a health perspective and a business one.
Some industries are booming while others are experiencing severe slowdowns; software vendors with offers that lend themselves well to the current situation (cloud-based productivity solutions to help employees working from home, security solutions, IaaS offers to name a few) are faring the weather. Such ISVs are able to ride the wave by positioning their solutions as a must-have for business continuity now that everyone has gone remote.
But no matter what your niche, what’s sure is that you cannot ignore the situation and carry on as usual. Changing your marketing messaging is a must. Here’s how to do just that:
More than anything else when you are reaching out to your target audience, it is absolutely necessary to show empathy. People are suffering. Some employees have lost their jobs while others have been thrown into difficult work from home environments, working all hours of the day and night as they juggle to home school their children in addition to managing their full-time jobs. People are worried that the economic impact of COVID-19 will cause a massive recession and are fearful that layoffs will come as a result. By recognizing those challenges and showing empathy, your buyer personas and customers alike will see your human side.
As a business, you should show support for your customers in need; ask how you can help. If you can, offer to modify payment terms to make the situation a bit easier on your clients (financially) in the short term. Take time to listen to their struggles and determine an action plan moving forward. Communicate transparently and show understanding for their pain points so that they know where to turn. Use this as an opportunity to enhance your brand image, instead of damaging it. It takes very little for social media to pick up on your errors. For example, Ticketmaster who decided not to reimburse their customers for canceled concerts was recently trashed online. They were seen as being cold and unfair. The damage that has been done to their reputation will outlast the crisis and who knows if they will bounce back. Instead of taking this route, try to find solutions that users can live with, and communicate such announcements with empathy.
In addition to being empathetic with your audiences, it is important to be practical as well. You should not try to hide the challenges that your own organization may be going through. If your business has decreased as a result of global confinement, be honest about it. Don’t pretend that everything is alright if it’s not. Of course, you don’t want to scare your customers, but asking for their support so that you can make it through difficult times will help solidify your partnership with them. Giving your customers a choice between two options is also better than imposing restrictions, which may cause them to drop you altogether. The key is transparent and honest communications that are published regularly as the situation evolves.
This also holds true for your team. Don’t assume that your employees will see the bigger picture on their own. Your remote workers may be feeling anxious about the future and certainly need to feel supported by upper management. It is important that formal announcements accompany informal meetings or one-on-one conversations with your staff.
Be social not salesy
Many people are connecting to others on social media outlets because they need contact with others. Don’t forget some people are completely isolated, living alone in quarantine far from friends and family. Such people are eager to connect and will often open up easily. For such exchanges, it is important to be social and not overly sales-oriented. The sale will come later if you can establish a relationship built on trust first. This will only happen in time as you get to know your prospect and can relate to them on a personal level. As we say, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. That means it’s best to listen first and talk (about your solution) later.
Business continuity is one thing, growth is another. You can expect sales cycles to take more time than usual to close, as prospects are navigating stormy waters themselves. It may be an interesting time for you to think about changing your business model, consider OEM partnerships or other (longer-term) strategies so that your business can adapt. The most resilient companies will turn lemons into lemonade so now is a good time to think about what you can be doing differently.