These last few weeks have been tough. We’re living through these turbulent times of furlough, business interruption and uncertainty. While we’ve all just been trying to keep our heads above water, the focus has purely been on reacting. Reacting to the new way of working. Reacting to the new way of communicating. Reacting to the new way of being. But we’re turning a corner, and we need to stop simply reacting. Demand is returning, and those who start preparing now will be better positioned to respond.
You’re likely experiencing a lull in activity at this very moment, which makes it the perfect time to prioritise projects that usually get pushed to the back of the queue. Don’t underestimate the advantage of perfecting your marketing materials now, so that you’re first out of the gate when the business world starts back up again.
There’s lots that we don’t know about the post COVID-19 world. Which businesses will survive? How will the landscape be changed? For how long will we continue to use the word ‘unprecedented’ every day?
But one thing is clear: things WILL return to some level of normality. Businesses will still have customers. Customers will still have requirements. One way or another, this whole machine will start turning over again, and the smart businesses will be ready for when it does.
We’re already seeing a murmur of activity. According to the latest research, and COVID-19 survivor Boris Johnson, we are “past the peak”.
Some shops are preparing for when the lockdown is eased, and the British Retail Consortium and Usdaw are setting out advice on how they could do it with the lowest risk. Wizz Air and Taylor Wimpey are also preparing to get their employees working again, as soon as possible. Clearly, things are moving, do you really want to be left behind?
There’s a danger in just standing still and waiting for all this to be over. Holding all action until we know what the new normal looks like may feel safe, but it’s a bad decision. Because your competitors aren’t. They’re analysing the various possibilities of the future business landscape, imagining how they can propel their brand under these new ways of working, and solve new problems that will inevitably arise – and you should too.
Stay front of mind
One of the first steps towards emerging out the other side as a stronger business is how you’re communicating with your customers during this time. Do they know you’re still there for them? And do they still need what you’re selling? Now is not the time for complacency.
Everyone’s worlds have fundamentally changed. It’s given people reason, and space, to re-evaluate every aspect of their business. It’s very risky to assume that your customers will just come straight back to you.
Let’s use Buffalo 7 as an example. We were quick off the mark to get everyone out of the office and working from home, and made sure that everyone had the tools to work remotely at 100% efficiency.
And it’s worked. Really well. So now we’re looking at our operations from a new viewpoint. Do we really need the phone system that’s sitting dormant in the office? Perhaps we don’t even need the office? Businesses are making big decisions, so you need to ensure your relevance now, and make sure they see your value moving forward.
Most organisations will need to rebuild awareness from scratch. You’ll probably need to remind them who you are, what value you add, and what your products and services can do for them all over again.
And that’s where your communications come in. Making sure that your messaging is tailored to their new problems, offering pitch-perfect solutions at every touchpoint in the journey.
It might have been a while since it’s had a refresh, so while things are understandably quiet, get them looking amazing.
Time for an audit.
Look the part
Do your presentations look like the rest of your collateral? Your website and social media, for instance. Or are they made up of a mish mash of the last few presentations that have merged over the years, with different logos, colour schemes and levels of quality?
Remember, now the green shoots are growing, you’ll be desperate to start making those pitches again, so don’t let a shoddy presentation let your company down. They need to look slick, premium and professional.
Do they follow your brand guidelines consistently? Are all the images up to date?
Do they represent your brand and company; do you feel proud to have them support your presentations?
Remember, it’s no good putting all your time, money and effort in at the top of the sales funnel, if you throw it all away when you finally get into the boardroom. Your slides need to represent the quality you offer.
A bad presentation shouldn’t lose you a pitch, but they very often do.
Sound the part
Do your presentations sound like you? More importantly, are the messages written with your audience’s needs in mind, or your own? When was the last time you had a deep discovery session to identify exactly who your target audience is, what pain points they have and how your solutions can overcome them?
When did you last think about your tone of voice, and whether it suits these audiences? When did you consider how to pitch your language to make sure that it’s impactful and consistent with your brand and values?
And how long has it been since you clarified all your key messages and put them into a compelling, emotive narrative?
If you have all this ready to go as soon as we get out of the tunnel, you can get back into the game with all cylinders firing.
Hone your messaging
We all know that our audiences respond to emotional, logical and inspirational content. And your current messaging has probably got a very precise mix of these three elements that was working great. Before.
But now, in the midst of (or directly after) a global pandemic, which has literally changed everyone’s lives, surely we all need to lean on being authentic, relatable – and even more vulnerable than ever before.
Maybe your messages didn’t have that compassion before, but do they now? It’s a good idea to consider empathising with your audience after such a huge ordeal.
At Buffalo 7, our people and their families have been directly affected by COVID-19. And the whole team has had to find new ways of working, new ways of juggling family responsibilities, new ways to socialise, to exercise and to communicate with one another.
So, we understand what our audiences are feeling, and we show them that we understand and we’re there to help. It works for us, maybe it could work for you.
But at the same time, don’t forget the rational side of your messaging. Empathy is great, but straight-forward, matter-of-fact truths also work wonders. It shows that you’re calm, composed and can get the job done. You’re dependable, and a cool head in a crisis. Just the kind of company to work with after a pandemic, right?
And finally, inspirational. Some good news. People want optimism, and seeing a company lead the way in delivering practical help, advice and services goes a long way in understanding their values.
Because the only way that we’ll get this big old machine purring again is working together. Forging, or re-forging, those relationships. Helping each other get back on top.
Communicating with one another in a more honest, relatable way.
So the time is now. We are seeing those green shoots. There is a speck of light at the end of that tunnel. Prepare your troops. Ready your business. And get your comms looking and sounding as good as they ever have, to race out of the traps and get back to where you belong.