Our county issued a stay-at-home order last night through April 12.
Most of the country is already there.
Everyone is scared. Either of getting sick or losing their job/business or both.
It’s hitting everyone differently. Some of us are still able to work because we can easily do our jobs from home, but we may be having a hard time finding people willing to buy right now.
For other businesses, it is literally impossible to work safely and legally.
Most people are not spending money because they don’t know when or if they’ll be able to make more.
As a business, unless you’re Charmin or Purell, this sucks.
But the clouds will part. Stores and wallets will open again. We’ll all be a bit wiser. And if you make smart decisions during this time – you may find your business in a better position than before.
It’s time to invest in brand. In relationships. It’s time to be generous. It’s time to sow into your community and the human race. Help. Be the good guy.
Here are five steps to help your business not only survive the COVID-19 crisis but come out with a stronger brand on the other side.
*** The first two steps are for businesses who can still safely and legally sell. If you literally can’t – then you need to spend the remainder of this crisis building relationships, expanding your audience, generating goodwill, and growing your list. Skip to step 3 if you are absolutely sure there’s nothing you can sell.
Step 1: Dance with the one who brung ya
I’m talking about your existing customers.
The ones who already know you.
They will be the easiest for you to help right now and the most likely to keep your cash flow going. It’s time to think about your ascension ladder. Is there something logical that you can offer right now that might be helpful during the crisis?
If not, what are you capable of offering?
Tell them. Put it on social media, send it to your customer email list, mail letters if you have to.
Sometimes this gets forced on you.
Restaurants can no longer seat people in their dining rooms, so they offer delivery and curbside pickup. I’m sure this was an uncomfortable adjustment to make – but they’re doing what they can to feed their customers and pay their bills and employees.
What is your “curbside pickup”?
Step 2: Get Outside the Box and Find a Way to Keep Selling
In fact, throw the old box away. You have to think differently in these strange times.
Go back to your persona/avatar documents and look at them through the lens of this crisis. What does your specific audience need right now?
What’s keeping them up at night?
And what can you do to help? Are there any big problems or little frustrations that you can solve?
If you’ve never done an avatar exercise, you can download our template here.
We’re talking about entry point offers. The point is not to make a ton of profit. The goal is to expand your audience and help people. If you’re able to keep some cash coming in – that’s a bonus.
If you’ve noticed – just about everyone who offers an online course of any kind is giving it away for free right now. That’s because they understand 2 things:
People are sitting around with a ton of time to spend improving themselves and their business.
If they can begin the relationship with those people now (for free), they’ll probably be able to keep them around when people are spending money again. They will end up with more customers than they had before.
The goal of this offer is to provide some sort of “Ah-Ha” moment that not only helps people in this unique time of crisis but also allows them to understand who you are and why you are awesome.
It’s a way for them to buy into you now so they can buy from you later.
For many businesses, this offering may be the same thing you’re using in Step 1. The difference is that one offer is specifically for existing customers and the other is for a broader (and colder) audience.
Step 3: Build Your List
It’s already been said, but people are afraid to buy right now. While you may not be able to fill the coffers, you can create a list of people that you can identify as interested in a specific topic or that are suffering from a particular frustration (people that you can help).
Sow now to reap later.
Do you have (or can you create) a piece of high-value content that’s a little too good to blast out publicly, but that you can bear to let go of at no-cost?
It can be some kind of downloadable resource, a video course, it can be a coupon, special access to an exclusive online group… be creative.
One word of warning.
This resource needs to do two things:
It needs to provide perceived and actual value. People can tell when something has been created just to get the lead. It’s a bad first impression and you’ll do more harm than good. You need to sincerely help people. Again – go back to your personas and view them through the lens of the COVID-19 crisis.
It needs to be specific. For example, what’s more appealing “guide to Facebook marketing” or “swipe file of proven Facebook headlines for chiropractors that sell”?
Once you’ve got your resource ready to go, put it behind a form and start collecting email addresses. With multiple resources, you can segment your email lists based on different interests.
If you already have a lead magnet, review it to see if there is a way you can make it more relevant for today.
Step 4: Be a Resource for Knowledge, Hope, or Entertainment
If there is one thing you take from this entire article it should be this: you cannot create enough content right now.
Internet usage is up about 40%, which means people are spending more time searching for information to help them navigate this season and entertainment to help pass the time.
Now is the time for people to get to know you.
Be generous with your expertise. Answer questions. Be available. Be honest.
It’s a good time to revisit some of your greatest hits. While blog posts aren’t as popular now as they were a few years ago, this may be a good time to give some of your most popular articles from the past a refresh.
If you can successfully create content that causes people to engage with your brand right now, then you will have a nice warm audience to tell about your products and services later.
For now – just help people. As much as possible. Give your expertise away.
As you probably know, when someone watches your video on Facebook or Youtube, or visits posts or pages on your website, you are able to “cookie” or “pixel” those people and build audiences that can be segmented based on their interests and level of intent to purchase.
It’s a lot like segmentation in your email lists, but it’s usually a much larger audience, it’s completely anonymous data, and you have to pay to get back in front of them through advertising.
Bottom line: this season is about audience expansion and brand building, not about maximizing revenue. That will come later.
Step 5: Don’t Stop Promoting
Because so many people are spending time on Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube, and because there are so many Google searches being done right now – ad inventory is very high.
That means it’s really cheap to advertise. We’re seeing cost per click decreases from 20% - 40%.
Additionally, many of your competitors are probably pulling back.
The ground is yours to take.
Your best bet is to promote your most-engaged-with top of funnel content to get as much awareness and engagement as you can.
Build and segment your audiences.
Run your new entry point offer to custom audiences or build a lookalike from your existing customer lists.
Target your existing customers with the offer from step 1.
And of course, retarget relevant offers based on content that your audience has engaged with.
This will pass. Sow now and you will reap later. Help as many people as you can.
If you need help brainstorming some of the offers in step one or two, or you want to talk about content strategy, check out our “PJ Workshop: Rethink Your Offer”.
We want to see businesses navigate this time and come out ahead on the other side.
About the Author Matt Brannon
Matt graduated from Baylor University in 2003 and married his college sweetheart Ginny.
They moved to Austin and Matt began working for Governor Rick Perry, first as an Advance Man and then later as the Governor’s Executive Aide.
In 2007, Matt and Ginny moved to Los Angeles where Matt worked in public relations for an independent film (and Toronto Film Fest winner), “Bella”. His primary role was implementing grassroots efforts on a new online network called “Facebook”.
After the promotion of Bella came to an end, Matt worked various jobs in entertainment and also spent 5 years working at Cedars-Sinai hospital.
in 2013, Matt and Ginny moved back to their home state of Texas and joined the team at Gravity Digital.
Matt’s distinctive value for his clients is his ability to bring out-of-the-box ideas and solve problems creatively.
Follow Matt Brannon: LinkedIn | Twitter