Sometimes, shit happens.
Rarely has that least profound of statements been as apparent as right now.
Fingers & toes crossed, we may not see anything quite like this current s(h)ituation again…
…but as biz-owners we have to accept there’s always the possibility of our best-laid plans being blown out of the water by something beyond our control.
There’s really only so much you can actively prepare for. It’s like the famous quote attributed to boxer Mike Tyson:
“Everybody has a plan, until they get punched in the face.”
That’s not to undermine the importance of planning, more to emphasise:
You’re gonna get hit at some point. What happens next is up to you.
Because while we can’t always know what’s around the corner…
There are a few things businesses and marketers can do to make sure they’re ready to bounce back when things (next) go pear-shaped.
Last time we looked at some questions you can ask yourself to keep things moving forward in the short-to-medium term…
Now here’s a couple of ideas for looking further ahead, so you can be ready to roll with the punches the next time “shit happens”.
1 – Find out what your audience is really feeling right now
It’s easy to make assumptions at a time like this.
We have knowledge gaps, and a need to fill them with… something.
But of course not everyone reads the same news, or has the same restrictions or the same opinion of ‘the beast lurking outside’. So assumptions can be way off.
This is a good time to reach out to your best customers (and prospects) to ask them simply and honestly how they’ve been affected by the current situation, and what’s changed for them.
Whatever niche you’re in, it’s likely your market’s needs have shifted over the past month or so, and the upside is:
You may be able to help people in ways you’re not yet aware of.
So ask them.
And when you do, be clear that your intent is to better understand their situation so you can learn from them and help others…
That should encourage honest responses and actionable insights you can use both now and in future.
Use that knowledge to assess what you can do to help – and when you get around to communicating that, be sure to include some of the specific language your respondents used.
Conversational, honest, plain-speaking language is the key to establishing connections and building trust in ANY market.
That’s as true today as it was a year ago, and 50 years before that.
When reaching out to your audience, keep your questions short & clear, and don’t overemphasise the negative – people need hope and proactive interactions right now.
2 – Speaking of building trust…
It’s time to show your audience who you really are in your messaging – starting TODAY, if you haven’t already.
Notice how many businesses only seem to use personal, empathetic messaging at times of crisis?
Weird, because if they understand its importance for connecting with, informing and reassuring customers now… why didn’t they do it before?
(It’s almost as if they only show up when they want something…)
Why wait ‘til the next crisis to communicate honestly and directly with your audience – to put your personality on display, to show them the people behind the product?
You can do this in your authority content, your emails, your social media output…
Speak up about how you’ve helped others like them solve similar challenges to theirs. Show results, but remember to talk about the emotional impact too.
It doesn’t have to be deadly serious, you can get personal and have fun (yes, even in B2B).
The goal is to demonstrate your unique value in a way that connects and builds trust.
Think ‘show, don’t tell’.
The more you do this, the better you’ll resonate with people who’ll come to see you as more than just another business ‘checking in’ during the next lockdown situation with a cut & paste outreach.
Remember, your audience this time next year will include people who don’t know you today – and some who may not even be ‘problem aware’ right now.
So it’s never too late to start boosting your KLT factor…
Anything you create or publish to help people now should still be useful for others who show up later.
3 – Is it time to reconsider that ‘launch model’?
A lot of digital marketing revolves around product launches – largely because a) people like ‘new’, and b) deadlines increases sales.
All well and good. I mean, if Tony Guru and Todd Millions swear by the launch model (especially the ones they promote in their courses) who’s to argue?
But I wonder about a lot of product launches:
Do they really need to be ‘launched’ within that holy countdown schedule to get the most out of the product (like y’know: better solving the customer’s problem)?
Or is it simply because it’s what a lot of marketers say works best?
(Maybe it comes down to the old directing vs guiding chestnut again.)
With COVID-19 having such an impact on many people’s priorities, attention spans and bank balances right now, some businesses with launches scheduled for this time of year have been feeling the effects.
Over-reliance on the ‘launch model’ of marketing where the doors are opened just a couple of times a year – preceded by heavy promotion and meaty ad spend – can lead to an ‘eggs in one basket’ situation.
That could mean a lot of time, effort and investment down the drain if some kind of ‘force majeure’ kicks in.
What would it take to move to a more fluid marketing approach where you present your prospects with a relevant offer when it’s right for them – rather than just when it’s ‘launch season’?
Next time you’re considering launching a new product or service, think seriously about whether you need to restrict access outside the launch timeline…
It’s possible you’d be better off keeping the store open year-round, so people can discover your solution to their problem when THEY need it, not just when your marketing dictates.
While you may miss out on some deadline-driven ‘scarcity’ marketing, you could be in a stronger position the next time “shit happens”.
And who knows, your audience may even thank you for it…