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Over time and through trial and error, you've likely developed a system of marketing that works for your business. But, in many ways, 2020 has ushered in changes that can have an impact on the way businesses communicate. This period of pandemic, social unrest, economic volatility and general uncertainty weighs heavily on the minds of many customers. Businesses may need to overhaul their tried-and-true outreach to be sensitive to current concerns, not to mention to preserve cash.
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"I think a lot of folks are having these introspective and reflective moments to go back to the root of who they are,” says Rakia Reynolds, founder of Philadelphia-based public relations firm Skai Blue Media. Reynolds says the first step many businesses should take is to audit how they're currently communicating with customers and prospects, making note of their tone, messaging, frequency and outreach platforms. Once they have a clear vision of how they're communicating, they can start to adjust.
1. Find out what your customers want
Regardless of who your target audience is, chances are it's been affected by the pandemic, says Jonathan Ochart, CEO of the Postcard Agency, a San Antonio, Texas, marketing agency. It's important to understand your would-be customers’ thinking now, so get their feedback about the concerns they have, ask what kind of information they want from you, and ask how your business can help them now. You may also inquire about the platforms and vehicles they prefer. For example, are they following your social media channels daily for updates or would they prefer weekly email newsletters? This information will help you choose the right platforms, Ochart says.
To collect the feedback, you may want to send out an email and ask respondents to fill out a short survey on a tool like SurveyMonkey. Or you may simply call some of your top customers or clients to get their thoughts. The latter will also give you an opportunity to connect with some of the people or businesses that are important to your company and strengthen the relationship, Ochart says.
2. Evaluate your messaging
Make no mistake: Customers do want to hear from you now. A survey of Twitter users in March found that 64 percent think brands should continue advertising, and more than half agreed that seeing and hearing ads gives them a sense of normality. At the same time, they want your tone to reflect today's context — just 7 percent think brands should continue using their “normal brand tone of voice."