By Giselle Ugarte
I’m not going to pretend that what we’re going through right now is easy. It’s not. Whether your business has been crumbling, struggling—or even booming—the last five months have been hard on all of us.
I’ll be 100% honest and admit that I’ve struggled to find the right words to say, even as I write this. We still don’t know how or when this is going to end, or if we’ll ever fully return to what we once knew as “normal.” But we ARE learning that many of the best practices we’ve been using during this time are so effective that they should last well beyond the pandemic.
Building connections online—like, REAL and genuine connections, not just increasing followers by the numbers: that’s my specialty. Creating storylines through social media: That’s my superpower. Helping you restore control and confidence in your business, your vision and yourself: That’s my purpose on this planet.
In that spirit, here are five essential tips for navigating the COVID crisis that should become permanent ways of doing business:
1. Show up.
Look, I know it can be tempting to hide under the covers, give it all up, delete your social media accounts and just throw your phone right out the window. But no. Do NOT disappear.
Your people, your staff, your family, your customers, your followers, your neighbors, your community, WE NEED YOU. It’s okay if you’re not quite sure what to do (yet). It’s okay if you don’t know what’s going to happen (no one does). It’s okay if you have no idea what to say. That’s more than okay!
The biggest mistake is people trying to pretend like they know it all or that everything is just rainbows and butterflies. Um … NO you don’t, and NO it’s not. People crave connection far more than perfection. They want someone to lean on. They want to be reminded of community. And they want to support their neighbors.
Forget about the algorithm and your perfectly curated feed. Understand that the best thing you can do is to bring consistency and authenticity like never before. Be honest with yourself and your people. Be willing to ask for help, both professionally and emotionally. Be transparent in what you need—from your family, your staff and your customers. And, of course, be willing to offer the same in return.
2. Embrace new media.
Ask yourself: Is there any part of your business that I can shift into interactions and/or sales ONLINE? Think advertising, online shopping, online ordering, online coursing, webinars, digital products, one-on-one coaching, group coaching, e-books, podcasting . .
Take a deep dive on your own and with your team. Consider surveying your customers to see what existing offerings could translate into an online service. Then take one MAJOR step outside your comfort zone and brainstorm the question, “How can I possibly take my business to (and take care of my people on) a whole new level?” Maybe it’s temporary play, or maybe this could be a brand new stream of recession-proof revenue.
3. Build your email list.
Your return is as strong as your email list.
We don’t know when this is going to be over. But when it is, I want you to come out stronger, more trusted and more equipped to deliver for your people. One way to do that is to offer any/all of what you came up with in #2 for FREE—simply for the sake of collecting contact information and growing your email list (think free downloads, free webinars, free one-on-one training, etc.).
If you’re thinking, “But Giselle, I HATE an inbox full of spam and sales pitches! I don’t want to be ‘that guy’!” Let me make this crystal clear: If you’re only sending emails for sales, discounts or promotions, you’re doing it very wrong, my friend.
A newsletter should be a storyline. It should be a strategic, heartfelt sequence in which you show who you are, demonstrate that you care, and educate your people with snackable nuggets of wisdom. It should allow you to show people that you care, show off your diverse skills and build that ethos. Then sprinkle in the sales, at which point, it doesn’t even feel like a sale, because you’ve taken the time to build trust.
Can you hear me now? Good. Because I have a little sales pitch at the end of this post. So keep reading. : )
If you don’t have a list, then now is definitely the time to start one. If you don’t have a newsletter cadence, or don’t remember the last time you sent a mass message to your people, then now is definitely the time to kick it off, make it a ritual and get into your groove of connecting with your people and PROVIDING VALUE beyond a sale.
FRESH EMAIL IDEAS
– a heartfelt letter from your CEO
– a look behind the curtain for a work in progress
– a spotlight on someone who doesn’t get nearly enough credit
– an odd number of tips for an at-home do-it-yourself project
– a call to action to help someone outside of your business
Take alone time when you need it, but don’t mistake the call for social distancing as a call for complete and total social isolation.
This is a great time to reach out to your community, clients, partners, friends, even your competition, and figure out how you can help each other. Proximity is POWER. Think cross-promotions and shout-outs on social media, coupons or even bundled deals when you shop from both of your businesses, hosting one another as guests on podcasts or online live sessions, etc.
The most powerful action you can possibly take is to reach out with no expectation at all—no sales pitch or motive—and just say, “Hey. How are you? How can I support you? I see you, I feel it, too. It sucks, but I wanted to let you know that you’re not alone, and I’m here.” And perhaps from there, friendships are born and a camaraderie is built that will go far beyond this relief.
I challenge you to start conducting all of your calls over video. ALL of them, both personal and professional.
With so much technology at our fingertips, it’s easy to lose that personal touch for the sake of convenience and efficiency. Let’s be real: In some cases, we hide behind it. We send the text instead of picking up the phone, or we send the email because we don’t even want to send the text.
Whether or not you feel comfortable behind a camera, I challenge you to start incorporating video into EVERYTHING you do. Learn to hold your phone properly for a phone vlog or a FaceTime (your elbow should be slightly bent and you shouldn’t have more than one chin). Download Zoom (it’s free and syncs up to your online calendar). I’m also a big fan of BombBomb, which is a video emailing system that’s also great for capturing video testimonials, or even saving time by sending automated video responses to frequently asked questions.
Know why I love using video the most right now? Because people are letting their guards down and letting more of their true selves show through. You get to look inside someone’s home in many cases. You have dogs and kids running around, cups on the desk and clothes on the floor. Makeup is optional at this point. No suits or ties. More than ever, you’re reminded that that customer, client or partner is HUMAN. We’re all going through the ups, downs, in-betweens and “what the fill-in-the-blank is going on?” moments together.
The #1 marketing strategy, right now and always, is to CARE—about your work, your people, your community and doing the right thing. People will remember you not because of how awesome you were when things were good, but how genuine you were when things got bad.
And that’s why I’m proud to introduce you to Master of Media Bridge, a monthly membership that will allow me to be your online performance coach with live trainings, content templates, office hours and email challenges.
Not ready to take that step? Totally cool. I’ll continue serving up free tips through this blog until you’re ready to take our relationship to the next level.
In the meantime, I’m here for you!