Just a matter of weeks ago, the outbreak of COVID-19 around the world seemed a distant problem.
How that has changed.
Here in the UK, schools, shops and all manner of public meeting places are closed; offices are empty as many work from home; the government is asking us not to go out save for the most vital of reasons; the health service is recruiting retired doctors and nurses to help cope with the rising number of the infected… and there may be more to come.
In the business world, conferences and trade shows are being postponed or called off; foreign travel plans are being cancelled; face-to-face meetings (with colleagues, with customers, with… well, everyone) are starting to feel like something of a bygone era. Almost overnight, almost everything seems to have change. I’m sure I’m not the only one to feel more than a little discombobulated.
Yet somehow, the show must go on…
A time for telling stories
With the cancelling of events and curtailing of personal contact, this is the time to consider other ways of communicating with your existing and potential customers. What do I mean?
Well, your engineers may not be giving any presentations at conferences for a while, so why not turn those presentations into white papers for your website (or you could think about recording the presentations, something that could be done from the comfort of a home office).
Perhaps it’s time to launch that blog you have been thinking about? Or to start pulling together those customer stories? Or to revamp your company magazine?
In the book Storytelling for Startups, Mark Evans lists ten types of content you can use to start telling your company’s story:
- Customer stories.
- Social Media.
- White papers.
- Email newsletters.
- Press releases.
All of these occur at ‘social distance’ – you’re not going to infect or be infected by writing a blog, creating an infographic or sending a newsletter. But all of them will help keep your relationships with customers and potential customers going. They might even improve those relationships. Humans are social beings; we need communication with others. Now more than ever.
Pull together five of the most frequently asked questions faced by your sales team and post answers to them on your website/social media over the course of a week.
Adapting to change
It’s also important not to forget your employees and colleagues. In among your company’s official COVID-19 response communications, is there also stuff to keep moral up? Many are being plunged into home working who (unlike this writer) may never have chosen it.
How do you ensure they don’t feel entirely cut off?
Working from home sounds easy. But it’s not necessarily so. Especially for those who thrive in the busy and social atmosphere of an office (or simply depend on time away from the kids to keep their sanity in check).
Start a Daily Survival Email or internal blog that includes advice, hints, thoughts, ideas, even kids’ activities, to help people adapt to working where they live.
Don’t be an ostrich
The phrase ‘self-isolating’ has taken on an almost mystical power here in the UK. Very quickly, it has become the new normal. But self-isolating does not have to mean isolated. Indeed, it’s imperative that it doesn’t.
You might not think that now is the best time to be starting anything new or ramping anything up. You may be tempted to hunker down until this all passes (which t will, by the way; all things do).
That would be wrong.
Now is not the time to bury your head in the sand. Now is the time to start writing. To share your company’s stories. To make sure your customers and your colleagues know you’re still out there – and that you’re thinking of them.