What we can learn about business communication during COVID-19
We are all used to constant social interaction, be it physical or virtual, but in the time of Covid-19, we are forced to carefully select the people that we most want to connect with. This offers a rare opportunity to hone in on the key players in your own professional lives and forge new ways of connecting with each other. Amidst a crisis such as the one we face now, there are lessons to be learned that may benefit your business – and can result in a more resilient and flexible way of working.
It goes without saying that the economic environment will be uncertain for the foreseeable future. Here are our top business communication tips during COVID-19 that you can implement now to keep your business visible and relevant.
Identify your people
With many physical businesses closed and reduced socialisation options, our ‘accidental’ interactions with others have shrunk considerably. We are now required to make our key connections happen and this provides an excellent opportunity to note the people and businesses that you are reaching out to. Keep track of who you are contacting and why throughout this period, as well as who isn’t making the list – you might be surprised. Identifying our most valued connections is an activity that we should be reviewing on a regular basis, but best practice aside, consider this time a rare chance to drill down on who is paramount to your business.
Stay email savvy
There is always a fine balance of emailing customers enough to stay relevant, but without becoming an irritant; the time of Covid-19 is no different.
Many New Zealand businesses are doing an excellent job of remaining top of their customers’ minds without overtly pushing sales or services, and they are achieving this by remaining authentic to their brand. For example, if you are a clothing company that manufactures all items in New Zealand, now is an excellent time to proudly remind people of this. You are simultaneously endorsing your brand while remaining loyal to your company values and connecting with the people who share them. Keep your email content clear, ideally letting photos speak louder than words, and steer well away from taking a stance on the crisis.
Times of uncertainty can bring communities closer together and we will be looking to each other for support. Businesses can provide this community reassurance in three ways:
- Keep a local and humanistic tone to messaging. Whether it be an email, social media message, phone call, or Zoom video, make sure that you are clear about the tone and intent of your message. Regardless of your industry, people are most interested in your commitment to them and feeling that we are all in this together. The time will come again for advertising, but right now, what will really resonate with others is your compassion.
- Connection with other businesses. Now is not the time to isolate from other companies, but rather to ramp up your business connections and display a united front. If you have been waiting for the opportunity to collaborate with another business, now is a brilliant chance to get started. In times of crisis, businesses need each other in the same way that individuals do.
- Keep it upbeat. There is another fine line to be balanced here, but so long as you are sensitive to the circumstances, humour can be an asset right now. With anxiety and stress levels understandably high, people are looking for some joy to punctuate the hard news. Keep it in-line with your brand, stay concise, but now is an excellent time to incorporate some joie de vivre into your communications.
As business owners, you are diligent and hard-working, but have you stretched your creative muscles recently? You might be thinking that in a time of uncertainty, you are better off sticking with the bare business necessities, but now is a great time to challenge your current offerings. It could be something as simple as updating your website content, adding a business blog or something larger such as introducing an additional product or collaborating with an art studio to produce merchandise. Some of your ideas might not be realised until more of the community is up and running, but you will have done the background work and be ready for action when things do take off again.
Smart and sensitive social media
Neglecting social media during Covid-19 would be a big mistake. Late April saw Instagram and Facebook use nearly double so staying present on these platforms is a must-do. Although the temptation might be to churn-up as much content as possible, resist the urge to bombard clients and instead create a plan for regular posts that speak to the crisis while also incorporating your brand. For example, some businesses have chosen to offer sales during Covid-19 – this is a good way of keeping people linked to your product and services but is even more powerful when linked to a rationale, such as supporting local business or keeping staff on. Look to your competitors for inspiration on what is clicking with people and re-work it to suit your clientele.
Hopefully these tips will help with planning your business communications over the next months. During this period of uncertainty, remember that what people want most is clarity, and you have the opportunity to provide this through considered communication. And if you need help crafting your message or refining your communications strategy, feel free to contact us.
Thank you for reading – please continue to stay safe out there and look out for one another.