We’ve been getting that question a lot lately. I suppose that’s a good thing. It means that people are beginning to recover from the shock of what’s going on and are now trying to figure out how to pick up the pieces and move forward.
But before you get all excited and go back to undoing all of the hard work your kid’s teacher has done this year, you should know that it’s not going to be as easy as turning everything back on right now.
Business has changed. And so has marketing.
So, let’s figure out how you can get back to marketing yourself in a way that doesn’t make you look like an opportunistic jackass.
Putting aside all of the other noise, let’s start by embracing the fact that most industries are going to take a hit from all of this. Unless you are selling necessities (I’m looking at you Charmin), your potential customers aren’t going to be as willing to pull out their credit card just because you put together a fancy landing page with a picture of you pointing towards the big orange “Buy Now” button.
Things have changed. And as a result, our needs have changed.
Before this whole thing happened, we were hungry for solutions. If you had a product or service that could remove the thorn from somebody’s paw (no Tiger King pun intended) then people would be willing to buy it. You just needed to get in front of them and clearly communicate your value.
But now, we’re starving for community. We need the safety and camaraderie of others to get through this. Even though solutions are still important, community has become a necessity. Like toilet paper. Only not as messy.
So, what does that mean?
Well, it means that you should focus more of your energy on building your network right now instead of building your business. I know. Easier said than done when you have bills to pay. But those who make it to the other side of this thing with a strong community behind them will win big in the long term.
Relationships are the new currency.
And it has never been easier to build a strong relationship and a strong community. So, let’s talk about how you can do that.
Serve Instead of Sell
There is an unprecedented level of fear out there. And the last thing we need is a doomsday countdown threatening a price increase on a product that doesn’t meet any of our most basic needs right now.
Take a look around.
There are people wondering where their next paycheck is going to come from. There are people wondering if they are going to be able to feed themselves in two weeks. There are people wondering if they are going to see certain members of their family again.
We have enough scarcity and fear and unknown and pressure in our lives right now. We don’t need more.
And yet, those tactics will still work for some. I mean, if you throw enough spaghetti at the wall, something is bound to stick. But that doesn’t mean you should. For each person who buys as a result of these now outdated sales tactics, there will be ten people praying for you to get explosive diarrhea.
And those people won’t forget very easily. And when all of this is behind you, they will remember not to buy from you.
So, rather than trying to figure out how to sell a few, figure out how to serve many. Ask yourself how you can leverage what you do in a way that creates an extraordinary amount of value for prospective clients while adding a benefit to you as well.
Blog: By creating new blog posts on a regular basis you are not only able to help people who are looking for solutions, but you will also be increasing traffic to your website and improving your search engine ranking.
Facebook Group: Create a new Facebook Group where you answer questions and help out your community. Meanwhile, finding out what keeps your community up at night will give you a lot of ideas for content, programs, videos, and services that you could offer in the future.
Group Chats: Start offering a daily or weekly chat on Zoom. While giving them valuable face time with you, it will also give you a chance to connect with your community beyond words on a page.
Donate Your Product or Service: What better way to give back to your community than give away the thing that you were thinking of selling? If we have something that can help people through this time, why wouldn’t we want as many people as possible to have it? We have faith that karma will do its thing later.
Change Up Your Offer to Meet the Needs of Others: If you’re in an industry that has been hit really hard, you may be one pivot away from being able to help people who are in desperate need of something. Rather than firing his staff during this time, a fashion designer converted his tailor shop and has been making and donating thousands of the most fashionable face masks you have ever seen.
And here’s where it all comes together.
When it’s time to buy again, because that day is coming, who would you rather buy from? The person who fired his team or the person who made thousands of masks for the people in his community? The person who tried to hard-sell you on a program or the person who gave it away for free? The person who answered all of your questions on a live chat or the person who filled your inbox with sales emails? The person who leads a Facebook group full of people who helped you through this or the person who spammed you with out of touch automated messages on LinkedIn?
It’s a no-brainer. If you’re there for me in my biggest time of need, I’ll be there for you in yours.
(You’re singing the Friends theme right now, aren’t you?)
And that’s how you build a community. Which conveniently leads us to our last thought on how you can market yourself right now. How should you act within that community?
This is probably the easiest and hardest thing you will ever do. Be human. It’s one of those things that is easy because you are human while also incredibly difficult because you are human.
We’re all going through a lot right now. It’s hard. And it’s scary. And it’s overwhelming. And we don’t know what is going to happen next.
But we’re all going through it together.
We all understand because we’re all in it. And it’s OK to let your guard down and be vulnerable. That is one of very few things that will allow you to be seen as more than just an avatar on a social media platform.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Vulnerability is incredibly difficult for most of us. Including me. There is a misconception that being vulnerable is somehow equivalent to being weak. The thought is that if people really knew that you were scared or confused or sad, people would begin to see you differently.
And they will.
Except in this case, different is a good thing.
The “living my best life on Instagram” days are gone. We want to know who you really are. Scars and all.
So, why not start right now by sharing how you really feel right now and see what happens.
So, Is it Safe to Market My Business Yet?It was never not safe to market your business. The only thing that changed is how you go about it. Because now more than any other time in our history, your business is less about your product or service and more about one thing.
And you should never stop sharing who you are with the people who need you.
Adapted from Marc Ensign; www.loudmouse.com