Thoughts from the W Source Virtual Panel on Marketing in a Time of Crisis
I recently spoke about content strategy and marketing in this current time of COVID-19 as part of a virtual panel alongside several other female business owners from around the country. Hosted by the W Source, a nationwide network of women business owners, it was a refreshing and uplifting discussion about what business owners can be doing right now in spite of the challenges that everyone is facing.
Everyone had excellent insights to share in response to our COVID-19 reality. Here are my main takeaways from the panel, which I hope may be of inspiration right now.
Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there
What people are engaging with and responding to right now is authenticity: real, raw content that shows the human(s) behind the business or brand. As Amanda Kuchlenz advised, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there on social media. Everyone’s reality right now is a little rough around the edges, to say the least (“homeschooling” parents of young kids, I’m talking to you!). Whether you’re stuck in close quarters with your spouse or you were forced to take a crash-course in hosting online events to salvage your upcoming seminar, these are unprecedented times for us all. Now is the time to be vulnerable and share some behind-the-scenes posts about you and your business. Why not do a quick video with tips for your audience? Or share how you and your team are adapting to the stay-at-home reality in order to continue serving clients (with photos to illustrate)?
When in doubt, tell stories
One thing we all agree on? Now is not the time to pull back or stop promoting your services. There is nothing wrong with continuing to operate your business and offer your expertise to those who need it. But we also know that marketing as usual won’t cut it. Avoid the hard sell by focusing instead on telling stories, Emily Soccorsy suggested. Storytelling is an easy way to engage your audience with a compelling narrative while still putting your services or offerings out there. As a writer by trade, I’ve always been a fan of storytelling and using narrative to create engaging content. Did you just learn of a client’s success that made your day? Share it with your audience in the form of a story: what success did the client experience, how did it make you feel, and what was your takeaway from it? Did your team just finish redesigning your website to better serve clients? Talk about the thought and effort put into the redesign and what it means to you to be of service to your clients. Putting your business offerings and successes in narrative form makes them more memorable for your audience.
Show up and stay connected to others
There’s no denying that, now more than ever, mindset is a big factor in running any business—big or small. It’s easy to let social isolation, COVID-19, and the economic crisis affect your attitude and your company’s momentum. Even if business has slowed or your team is operating with minimal or emergency staff only, don’t slip into silent mode. Stay in contact with your staff, clients, stakeholders, and vendors and create opportunities to check in through video and phone calls. Keep the lines of communication open. Elisa Ellis had some great advice on showing up for yourself every day in order to set a positive mood for the day—I couldn’t agree more. Since virtual connection is the only option we have right now (other than our beloved housemates), showing up for yourself and your community is critical.
Be bold and tap into your creativity
If there’s one thing you can do to invest in your business right now as we continue moving through this crisis, it’s to be bold. Now is not the time to shy away from change or what’s uncomfortable (I’m echoing Emily here); it is a moment that is ripe for transformation. How can you evolve as a business owner to better serve your clients or community? What creative ideas can you implement to set your organization up for forward momentum when we start moving into recovery mode? If you’re anything like me, you already have a number of ideas in your head that you’ve never gotten around to pursuing—maybe you’ve been too busy or you’ve let fear hold you back. Now is the time to act: develop that course, launch that program, fine-tune that new service, research that new product idea, write that book. Just start. We will get to the other side of this crisis, and when we do, you’ll want your company to be poised to come out of it with a stronger foundation than you had going in.
Keep at it
One thing I know is that we’re all facing the same uncertain, scary times. I know so many resilient, persistent business owners who are continuing to forge ahead and work hard to serve their organization, to be of help to their community, and to remain proactive as things continue to evolve. That is the most you can ask of yourself. Some days will be harder than others, but that’s what community is for. Lean on your network, and don’t be afraid to be honest and open—we all need more transparency in our lives right now.
Get the support you need
Our team at ContentWorm continues to work hard to serve our clients and help them navigate this unprecedented business climate during COVID-19. If you have questions or need support, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Here’s to staying productive and tapping into your creativity!