As a business owner, you have so much on your shoulders right now, and I’m truly sorry. The word pandemic wasn’t on our agendas while preparing for the new decade.
Now, it’s not only on our agendas, it’s consuming our mindsets and informing all our immediate decisions. So in response to the overwhelming burdens you’re dealing with, we’re here to alleviate some of the weight.
The primary weight we want to relieve involves communicating essential information to your employees and customers/clients, and where you as a business owner can go to voice your own concerns.
So are you ready? You better be, because we’re going!
Let’s start with voicing your concerns. Thankfully, El Paso Chamber has set up a community survey for small business owners, and you can click here to participate. They’ve also set up a Facebook group called El Paso Businesses Stand Together that you can join to see what other business owners are asking. Click here to join and connect with other business owners in the area!
Communicating with your employees.
According to an Edelman Trust Barometer report on trust and the coronavirus, 69% of employees in the U.S. trust their employers on what they should be doing during this time. Did you see that? 69%! That means communicating with your employees is not only important during this time, it’s essential to keeping your employees safe.
We recommend that you record a video or set up a conference call to let your employees physically see you while you give them your feedback on the COVID-19 situation. Be a calming presence for them during your response. We also recommend that you make yourself available to check in with them after you’ve disseminated your official information, and let them know you are available to do this.
If your business allows for telecommunication, now is the time to set up a plan in case you need to work remotely. Our team uses Zoom or Google Meetup as video conferencing tools and Slack to communicate throughout the day. The best part of these tools? They’re free, so we recommend setting them up today to be prepared for any upcoming changes.
Communicating with your customers:
Lastly, if you haven’t already done so, you will mostly likely be writing a coronavirus response to your customers soon. Whether it’s for a canceled event, moving your services from in-person to online, or a myriad of other unforeseen situations that this global event has brought on, you want to write to your customers effectively, establishing your business as a steady voice of hope in these uncertain times.
We’ve broken down two key elements that your writing needs to incorporate in order to connect with your customers effectively.
Serving your customers
No matter what industry you’re in, the products and services you offer, or your location, now is the time to step into your customer’s lives and remind them that you’re there for them.
Regardless of how you personally feel about the coronavirus or how people are responding, it’s time for all of us to help each other. As a business owner, here are three ways you can serve your customers when writing a coronavirus response.
1. Start with integrity
It’s important that you don’t take advantage of your customers.
Hopefully, this isn’t news to you.
But it’s equally important that they don’t perceive that you’re taking advantage of them. So, to avoid misrepresenting your intentions while writing marketing materials, commit that everything you write will flow from a genuine desire to guide your customers through this time. For example, if you’re asking customers to leave the safety of their homes to buy non-essential items, it won’t sound like you have their best interest in mind. So instead, point them towards the essential items you provide, and make them aware of how your operations are set up so they can safely obtain those items. As an example, we have continually given clients and prospective clients the option to meet over Google Meet or Zoom. Additionally, for in-person meetings, we leave our office door open so fewer people are using the door knob, have disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer on hand, and keep the 6 foot distance.
Secondly, have integrity in how you talk about the coronavirus. Too many people are being overwhelmed with misinformation regarding its source, prevention, and treatment, and you do not want to be part of the panic. Only use data and updates from trusted sources like the CDC and your local government websites so that you serve your audience accurate and helpful information. As one client recently said, “now everyone thinks they’re an expert on coronavirus”. Let’s not be armchair experts.
2. Offer a listening ear
After you’ve established that your marketing material exists to serve your audience, show them you’re listening. Sometimes, the best way to serve someone is to just listen to them. Acknowledge their situations and feelings, and if they’ve already given you feedback, address it!
For example, if you had to cancel an event and you’ve received frustrated feedback from your customers, acknowledge their frustration and affirm that it’s valid because it is. Every single one of us is facing frustrations, disappointments, fears, and more because of the coronavirus. So show you customers that you’ve heard them, and you’re still listening.
3. Provide helpful resources, products, and services
Please, please don’t stop selling your products and services out of concern that it’s insensitive to sell during a pandemic. Your customers may need what you’re selling, so do so in a safe environment. Be open about how your products and services can fulfill their real-time needs and keep their families safe and healthy.
Dollar General is a great example of this. To protect our high-risk senior demographic from exposure to COVID-19, they created a special shopping hour for senior citizens so that they can get the resources they need without the risk of a crowd.
If you’re struggling to see how your products can help, start by thinking about the needs this pandemic has created, then work backwards to assess how your products/services provide a solution!
Be authentic with your customers
I can’t tell you how many emails I’ve received in the last few days that are clearly copy-and-paste clones of information, but with a different company’s name and logo slapped on to the end.
Don’t do this.
It doesn’t help your audience, and it honestly just communicates that you didn’t care enough about them to take the time to write a personal message. So with that in mind, here are three ways to be authentic when writing a coronavirus response to your audience:
1. Use your words
We can’t emphasize this enough! Sure, you’re most likely sending your audience information they’ve heard before, but they haven’t heard your voice on the matter. Incorporate your brand’s unique identity into your message. Let them know another human being is actually on the other side of the post on your website and the email in their inbox.
2. Point to the positive
Like we mentioned at the beginning of this post, you want to establish your business as a steady voice of hope during this time. But there’s a reason that we didn’t put this point at the beginning of our post. In order to effectively provide hope, you first need to acknowledge the pain points your audience is feeling and then guide them towards the sources that can help.
To build on this hopeful foundation, add an encouraging note about some of the positive outcomes of the coronavirus. That could be that your audience is at home with their families, or that creative covers of their favorite songs will soon be hitting YouTube. Find something unique and hopeful that relates to your audience and encourage them with it.
And be encouraged yourself!
3. Show how you care
Lastly, your words won’t provide your audience with any value if you don’t genuinely show them you care. So when writing a COVD-19 response, think about the things your company is doing to take care of your customers. If you can’t think of anything, brainstorm some innovative ways that you can help!
If you want to dig in deeper, we highly recommend this article on writing effective marketing materials during the coronavirus crisis.
If you’re still feeling overwhelmed and you’re not sure what to say, don’t worry — we are here to help! We’d love to write a FREE response for you that you can provide to your employees or clients — whatever fits your needs best. Simply fill out this questionnaire to provide our writers with all the information they need, and our team will send the response out to you shortly.
Most importantly, know you’re doing a good job. Everyone in the world right now is trying to figure this out as we go, and we don’t want you to feel alone in navigating your business through this time. Let us know how you’re doing! We’re a safe place for you to ask questions, or to vent and process what’s going on, so if you need us, contact 8 Signal today. We’re here to listen, and we’re here to help.