Today, more and more people are being nudged to accept digital mediums of business. So much so that even those businesses and people that haven’t had an online presence for years are now willing to build their profiles and spend more time interacting with their customers online.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, local businesses are either struggling or are afraid that they're about to struggle. Therefore, it’s more than likely that they are looking to seek comfort on the internet, and one of those outlets is consuming information online.
At times like these, it is a healthy practice for marketing agencies to churn out more content than ever and push out information online to curb the fear in the minds of local businesses.
But how do we do that? How do marketing agencies become the voices of reason?
The answers lie in the simplest of things. Let's teach customers and local businesses about the things that are working at this time by doing webinars, going live on social media platforms, and writing more blogs than ever on topics that are relevant and really important right now.
While the ongoing coronavirus outbreak might have brought the world to a standstill, I believe that all hope is not lost. Digital marketing agencies can still make an impact at times like these and tackle the COVID-19 hardships by creating an action plan to build their brand presence.
Show customers that you’re prepared
I’ve realized that most marketing agencies, at this time, might be reluctant to create content because they either don't want to drown out the news that's out there or provide misinformation.
However, during these tough times, if you're not showing your customers who you are and how you're coping with the situation, then they won’t be able to do so themselves. Not only would this trickle-down effect impact your customers, but it would also impact their customers.
Marketing agencies must help out small businesses by showing that they have a plan to get themselves through this storm. Doing so would encourage their clients to do the same as well.
Furthermore, a lot of people are afraid of marketing because they feel that it would appear insensitive right now. I don’t blame them. Who would want to be on the receiving end of a message that says, “how dare you try to sell when there is an emergency kind of situation.”
But, when agencies approach this situation with a message that positions them as someone who’s out there to care about people and to educate them, things become different.
Share stories to connect with customers
The core essence of marketing is to share stories with people and connect with them on an emotional level. There can be many ways for you to do so, but the best way is to be authentic and tell your customers the things that you have learnt from your personal experience.
For example, maybe you post a video on your social media platforms that starts with you drinking a can of soda in your kitchen, and then talking about it for the next 15 seconds.
You can talk about how as a kid you used to love hanging out with your friends and family to drink that soda, or any other such light moment, and then finally move into the business aspect.
Or perhaps you want to start the video by talking straight to your lighthouse client and about what their most-valued topic of discussion is. Maybe it’s a photography studio and you start off by talking to them about the features of your new Sony Alpha a7R IV digital camera.
Recommended Reading: How to Generate Leads Using the Lighthouse Client Strategy
You can start off by telling a story and creating a connection between yourself and your customers and then remind them that despite the circumstances you’re still in business.
It could be something to the effect of, “I'm here in my kitchen and we just cooked some steak and I want to let you know that even though I'm here in my kitchen, I'm still here for you and we're still open for business.”
There are many different ways that marketing agencies can tell stories. They don't have to be in one video and can instead be in multiple 15-second videos posted on social media.
In fact, digital marketing agencies should actually increase their marketing efforts during this time period, provided that they have the financial resources to weather a couple of months.
Send out a Coronavirus notice
It’s advisable for all businesses, irrespective of being large or small, to have a proper COVID-19 notice that they send out to their customers, informing them about the business happenings.
This step is very important for marketing agencies since it shows their customers that they care about them, are prepared to fight, and are strong enough to tackle the situation at hand.
Agencies can go a step further and personalize their COVID-19 notices as well by turning them into videos and informing their customers that, while their physical doors might be closed, they are still virtually operating and are open for business.
The key to making videos and sending them out as notices is to add a sense of personalization to it. During the outbreak, all companies would be sending out COVID-19 notices and that could lead to customer mailboxes being flooded with tons of emails.
The last thing you want is to have your notice get lost in the flurry of emails.
The best way to overcome this is to share stories about your current company operations, in the form of a COVID-19 notice, that talks about yourself and your employees.
Such an approach helps marketing agencies humanize themselves to their customers by showing them that they too are going through the turmoil and are working towards adjusting.
Further, customers need to hear that their marketing agencies are still open for business, have transitioned everything to working from home, are still available during the same hours as before, and are evolved enough to keep their existing systems working.
If your customers do not hear from you, they can assume that you’re no longer existent because that’s what people are reading online. Every customer needs assurance and you, as a digital marketing agency, must give that so that they can then do the same for their customers.
Go live on your social media channels
Sending an initial COVID-19 notice to your customers is just the first step for businesses. It’s the start of a constant dialogue that marketing agencies must maintain in order to stay relevant.
Once you send out the notice, it’s imperative that you walk the talk and demonstrate daily that you’re living up to the promise of being there for your customers.
The best way to show your customers that you’re working for them, despite the chaos, is to have live interactive sessions with them on your social media channels.
You can do a Facebook live for 10 minutes everyday, asking everyone how things are and telling them what is happening on your end. It can just be a casual check-in and does not necessarily have to be a proper presentation.
Always remember that this does not have to be a public speaking engagement, where the onus is on you to have a speech prepared. This is an interactive online session where you’re sharing your thoughts about your business, the situation, and how everyone can work together to win.
You can share the highs and lows of the day, encourage others to participate in the session, and gather essential feedback regarding what’s been working and what’s been missing.
When you go live, it’s different from a scheduled webinar or pre-recorded content because the key is driving engagement. Therefore, you must ask people things like how they're doing, where they're from, what they had to eat, and what they thought about certain other aspects.
Then, and this is the crucial part, to keep people from being gloomy, you must share a piece of good news to uplift the morale of the room. For example, you could talk about how things might be improving soon or state real life instances of people recovering from COVID-19, etc.
This exercise is a great way to set an example for your customers to replicate the same strategy with their customers. If you practice what you preach, your customers are more likely to trust you and, therefore, are more likely to stick with you despite the uncertainty.
Make your training sessions free
I know what you are thinking. What if I don’t have any training sessions or digital marketing courses to make free for my customers? How do I get my hands on something to give out?
The answer is very simple. When I encourage agencies to make their training sessions free, I’m throwing light at the different things that you could do to create those sessions for your clients. Things that you’ve been saying all along, but haven’t had the opportunity or time to jot down.
Have you been in situations where you’ve coached your customers about business topics? Maybe you’ve been in situations where you’ve taught them the best social media strategies.
Now’s the time to convert those learnings into training sessions for the world to see. This doesn’t have to be in the form of a proper document with a table of contents and a bibliography. You can create these training courses in the form of short 15-second videos as well.
The ultimate aim is to give things for free and create positivity that flows through the community.
You could take an existing ebook and turn it into short videos or vice versa. Take a long video, convert it into an ebook with your insights and learnings, and share the same on social media. You could even hire a virtual assistant (VA) to create the training and do all your heavy lifting.
Recommended Reading: What is a Virtual Assistant and What Does a VA Do
For example, let’s say that you come across a video that you wish to convert into an ebook or a guide. How do you go about doing that? You start off by transcribing the video and getting a transcript. After that, you take portions off that transcript and create an ebook or a guide.
In my experience, the easiest kind of guide to create from long form content is a top X list. The top X email marketing practices or the top X social media media strategies, etc. Consequently, you could also take content from a webinar and convert the learnings into a training session.
At times like these, you as a marketing agency must proactively get on the ‘providing free training’ bandwagon. You must take the initiative and call up every one of your clients and ask them to get together for a complimentary training session.
Lastly, once you post the training sessions for free on your social media channels, it’s time for you to increase the engagement of that post to improve the reach. You can do that by replying to everyone who comments on the post. Doing so will help you triple the reach of your post.
There might be a lot of uncertainty and objections around whether to keep spending on digital marketing during these tough times. With COVID-19 playing a toll on local businesses, arguments can be made for marketing agencies to wait it out and save their resources.
However, let’s face another reality. Due to this outbreak, each day more and more businesses are moving online. Not only are people spending more time than ever online, but they’re also investing in themselves and accentuating the whole online learning community.
I agree that spending time online doesn’t necessarily mean learning. It could also be spent watching Netflix. But, having access to free training and courses is game-changing.
If digital marketing agencies put this COVID-19 action plan in play right now and make their training and courses free for their customers, it will ultimately benefit them in the long run.
There would be many businesses educating themselves and wanting to sell products using such learnings. And while some of them might implement the learnings and do everything themselves for their businesses, there will surely be other local businesses who would rather just pay the experts like yourself to do the job for them.
So, what are you waiting for? Download the COVID-19 action plan and get started.