In the past week, how many times have you heard (or read) the words ...
These are truly extra-ordinary times
Thousands right? From the "I'm a CEO on a 6 figure salary but I care for you so much I'm gonna lay off some folk" emails, to the folks at Facebook trying to position themselves as "THE authority" on disaster mitigation for business (by posting a "comprehensive guide for small business" which by the way is really not that great at all but that's because it's written by marketers rather than professionals ...) I've seen thousands of emails, social posts and all sorts of other communications out there.
And truth be told, it's pretty scary.
Because the reality we are all faced with is a cacophony of noise akin to digital vandalism that leaves us anxious, confused and full of questions rather than answers.
This post however isn't a thesis on disaster communications it's about what to do as a small business owner now, and in respect of your communications (written from the perspective and experience of a small business owner).
SORT OUT YOUR COMMUNICATIONS
"your business routine, let alone communications is now so disrupted it's likely to be ineffective"
This is true because
- You were over-relying on "social media" to communicate which is now riddled with other folk who, just like you, don't know how to react and have all the time in the world to fill their timelines with cute dog photos and the contents of their dinner. Meaning you are competing more than ever for the attention of others.
- You didn't really have a plan for this sort of thing because, let's face it nobody did, but also because your daily routine meant you never really spent any time thinking "what if"
- There is widespread disruption around you meaning other channels are likely to be irrelevant. And there is nothing you can do about that so accept it and move on.
"focus on your existing clients in more human way"
Do this by
- making a routine that ensures you are reaching out to them, by text, by phone, by mail pigeon whatever!
- making a routine of creating useful items for your business.
- making a routine that ensures your social media is not riddled with "copy this if you care" items.
Just make sure you're reaching out to ask if your clients are doing ok. This will be appreciated because we are humans first and foremost and not wallets. If you decide to create something useful for and from your business make something useful NOW that your business can rely on later (you know rather than a half baked PDF that blatantly wants to harvest people's email addresses). This can be your website, your business cards, some leaflets or even some how to's for the products you sell. How about process funnels for how to deal with enquiries or actual business during this time, or even high level plans that will guide your response once the worst of this is behind us. Best thing of all is that those are resources you can share and people will appreciate it too! Whatever it is it will surely make your business better AND that will be appreciated by your clients when the time comes. Everyone, including your clients and prospects, need to know that you are safe and carrying on more than they need to know that you are playing the guitar from your balcony. Having simple routines in place and following through will ensure you continue to re-assure people by making what you do (i.e. your core business) relevant and present in your communications.
SORT OUT YOUR PROCESSES
"your business routine is affected by lack of business"
This is true because
- We are all socially isolating therefore traditional business that relies on footfall is likely to be affected.
- There are simply some jobs that you cannot do from home.
- Likely buyers of any product, or service for that matter, will tend to shut up shop in times of crisis and evaluate what is necessary and what they can do without
"be productive in other ways, i.e. codify parts of your business in a way that will make you more efficient in future"
This will help because
- You will have pre-planned responses to scenarios that normally take up valuable time (example - write a list of things you would do if you got a bad review from a customer. preparing something like this now ensures good customer service responses in future)
- You will be less likely to make un-informed and costly decisions (example - devise an advertising campaign ie what you would do to advertise for your business, on which channels, with what words and artwork, how much you would look to spend, how long would you run it for and what results you expected to get. doing this as a table top exercise means that when it comes to researching and doing it for real you are less likely to spend good money over bad)
- You will be much more productive (example - plan a weekly routine around your marketing and allocate time to time-consuming and let's face it tedious tasks like updating your website or posting stuff. these are essential functions that are likely taking you away from what you love doing but, if you plan how to tackle them whilst you have time to properly consider it you will be much better off during the busier times which are ahead of us.
SORT OUT YOUR FUTURE STEPS
"all of us fall foul of looking to "gurus" and "leaders" and "authorities" on social media and beyond for "inspiration meaning we base decisions on sub standard information at best"
This is counter-productive because
- Most sources of information, ESPECIALLY ON SOCIAL MEDIA, is designed to sell you something! and you should be on the other side of that curve rather than relying on shouty mcshouty on LinkedIn for "business advice".
- Most sources of information really and genuinely are absolutely of no relevance to you or your business! Bold claim? Here's how to test it! Open your go-to social media channel, or periodical, or newspaper or whatever you use to inform yourself and your business about opportunities and or other information and take a note of the first ten things on there. Chances are they are neither world shattering revelations nor million dollar ideas, now are they? If you rely on such to break the market or invest a billion quid chances are you're wasting good money after bad.
- Most sources of information have absolutely no clue what your direction is or should be. Think about it. You are the expert at what you do. You know your craft and the business landscape around you like the back of your hand. Most small business owners and entrepreneurs do! But most of us need that little validation that we get from someone "more qualified" as a shield and, within that lies the trap of running around blind to what is really around us.
"be brave, you got this!"
This is easier than you realise
- Use any and all down time to plan your strategy.
- Commit your ideas to paper, then test them!
- Make decisions and stick with them.
Planning a strategy starts with finding information about core ideas that affect your business from at least two separate sources, but you should also be spending time to rationalise what this information means and how you will go about utilising it! Once you are happy you have information it's time to commit. Writing those ideas lets you revisit them and test your assumptions against your findings. For example if you think a website is a good idea for your business describe it in words to yourself using pen and paper. What does it look like, what functions does it accomplish, what content does it have and so on. This way you'll be able to test your assumptions and really add value to your efforts. Lastly you mustn't underestimate the value of following through with a decision. For example if you think that advertising using leaflets is a good idea, give your campaign an adequate amount of time to mature. If every decision we made bore fruit instantly then we would all be likely gazillionaires by now... Remember good things, usually, come to those that wait.
Thanks for reading. If you want more ideas like this please visit again. There is no need to subscribe to anything. Just search Coffee Cups Ink on the web and the rest will reveal itself. For anything else, such as help with websites and online communications please drop us a line on the website and we will be in touch to discuss your business needs.