Navigating Transparently in the New Normal
How are you holding up? We certainly hope all is well with you and your family. Clearly COVID-19 is causing disruption for everyone everywhere.
If you’re reading this, we’re guessing that it has likely disrupted your normal business operations, as well. Are you trying to figure out your new normal: employee well-being; facility cleanliness and work station distance, vendor resources, production timelines … ? It goes on, we know. Perhaps you’re able to continue manufacturing, but customers can’t receive. And how is your supply chain doing as a whole? That’s another monumental concern. Good for now, but will parts and components run out soon? Are you discovering a lack of redundancies in your supply chain? That’s its own list.
We understand that you, your company, and your customers are going through a period of unpredictability during this crisis. Here’s one vital thing you do have control over: communication. Doing so with clarity and regularity will promote stability, calm, and dependability during this period of uncertainty. Maintain open communication and keep your employees, customers, and suppliers aware of how you will support them.
Why Communicating Now Is Even More Important
- Your customers need your help
While customer needs may have changed, the fact that needs exist—especially for B2B manufacturing companies—hasn’t changed. Is your company or division considered essential? Let your customers know that they can count on you. If you have to stop your operations, let your customer know if you will be able to catch up once the production restarts. Companies will be able to build goodwill for their brands by instilling confidence in their customers. Think of the inverse, too: if companies or divisions you normally produce and deliver to are shut down, be sure to reach out to them to confirm their needs. This will enable you to avoid shipping errors and concentrate on servicing your high-priority customers.
- Information is better than silence
Customers and prospects want to see that you have an understanding of the situation and that you’ll be able to continue to provide your services and products … or not (communicate this, if so). Remaining silent is not a way to achieve that. As well, silence creates a void that allows for speculation—and fear—to build. Unfortunately, there’s plenty of that to go around without adding to it.
How Should You Adjust Your Communication?
While you should continue maintaining communication and marketing during the crisis, that doesn’t mean you should act as though nothing has changed. There are a few ways you should adjust your communication:
- Rethink your tone
No matter how big or small a company is, it is made up of people. The people who are going through the same challenging times—personally and professionally—as you. Just like in real life, you’ll want to adjust your tone to the situation. Be truthful and empathetic. If you have a highly essential product, be sure people who need it know where to find it. Ensure that they are easily able to make contact with the right people so they can procure what then need when they need it. You can even advertise, if that’s appropriate. Otherwise, taking a step back from aggressive selling and offering other ways to help will best serve you all.
- Rethink customer needs
The COVID-19 outbreak has affected our basics needs. And surely your customers’, too. Take the time to consider the many aspects that have changed and in what ways those are challenging your customers. They are probably in contingency mode right now—double checking employee safety; possibly working with a decreased work force—or an increased one, depending on the industry or market they serve; assessing supply chain redundancy, and so on. How has your ability to deliver to them changed? How does it impact your overall approach? The key to great marketing is understanding your capabilities and your customer needs—and finding the point of intersection.
- Work on digital presence
With the prevalence of a “new” remote workforce, your digital presence is paramount to successfully navigating through these times. Ensure that your website is prominently conveying information most useful to your customers for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis. Send timely emails. Set up a chatbot to inform visitors of the latest changes in light of the crisis. Use your social media channels and consider display ads to extend the reach. With everyone behind their laptops most of the day, your chances of reaching the right audience digitally will increase tremendously. (Remember: tone is important.)
- What will “back to normal” look like?
Depending on the markets you serve—business might be slow or busier than you are used to. For most companies, your normal has been altered either way. What is business going to look like on the other end of this? Will you need to ramp back up or slow down? Think now about how to communicate with your employees, customers, supply chain partners, and prospects once things return to business as usual for them. Let them know you will be prepared … for whatever “as usual” may be. (And understand that “as usual” may be a relative term at that point, too.)
- Turn up the heat on back-burner projects
If things have slowed down for your company—or divisions within your company—now is the time you might have some back-burner projects that can be moved to the front. Maybe you’re a manufacturer that has a limited staff on the production floor with office staff working remotely. Remember all those “when I have time” projects you all kicked down the road at your last six meetings? (No judgment—we all have a long list of them!) What research, reports, data can be compiled that can provide insights to management or customers for long- or short-term forecasting or strategies? How about the blogs, articles, white paper, or case studies (or rough drafts you’ve intended to send to your marketing team) you’ve been meaning to write? This is a good time to harness all your valuable intelligence and make those back-burner projects really sizzle. All of this translates into communicating with your ecosystem with helpful, insightful information.
How Grant Marketing Can Help
Navigating through these challenging times with your customers requires transparent communication—the good and the bad. It’s the one piece of this that we can all control, as it helps us navigate, and mitigate, the unknown.
The Grant Marketing team is here to support you in your communication efforts with your customers, prospects, and suppliers.
Here are some communication strategies that we use to help our clients during the crisis:
- Email communication to customers and prospects
- Stakeholders communication
- Dedicated website page for COVID-19 updates
- Pop-up message on the website
- Blog relating the impact of COVID-19 on the industry/organization
- Webinar communication
- Social media communication—graphic images with timely, target messages
If you need help implementing any of the above strategies, we are here for you.
Resources to Start
We are keeping ourselves informed on the challenges our clients and prospects are facing, and have written about it in our recent articles:
As we work through this extraordinary time together, we will develop more resources to help you stay on top of this changing situation. And for now, if there is anything we can do to help you communicate more efficiently and effectively with your customers, we’re happy to set up a time to explore how we can make that happen. Contact us to discuss your evolving situation and we will create and execute a communication plan suited to your needs.