This morning, I panicked.
I was already a bit of an anxious hypochondriac, so I wasn’t exactly feeling “safe” in the midst of this current pandemic anyway.
But then the signs started rolling in that we’re headed for a recession.
And I lost it for a minute. My instinct was to shrink. Hide. Sleep.
From what I gather from other small business owners, many of us are feeling a similar urge to shutter the store, hoard what we can, and ride this f*cker out.
What I can I cut from my expenses? Who can I let go? Where can I pull back?
This feels like the most natural thing in the world to do.
But it’s not what our businesses need, and it’s not what our customers need.
Running your company from a place of fear and scarcity is going to…. Engender more fear and scarcity. Shutting down the sales and marketing train is going to… shut down your sales.
So… Don’t panic. Don’t hide. Continue to show up and make sales.
And if part of you is hiding because you don’t know what to say to your customers right now, keep reading.
Start by saying something
Step one? Don’t ghost on your customers.
You know how eerie it feels that every restaurant and bar in town is closed for business right now? That’s how it feels to your customers if you go dark.
Just by not cutting regular communications—like your email list, social media feed, and content—you’re signaling to customers that your company can be relied on. That things are okay.
This is a massive opportunity to establish trust in your brand. Don’t waste it by panicking.
Acknowledge turbulent emotions
Inject empathy into your communications.
“But of course!” You might be thinking.
However, when all those scary what ifs are rolling around in your head, it’s really challenging to have empathy. It’s easy to forget that our customers are suffering and worried, too.
So, take a moment to stop the mind-panic, and genuinely think about what your customers are most worried about. Then acknowledge that in your next communication.
Ramp up communications and content—but thoughtfully
Guess what people are doing more than ever right now? Going online to look for information, support, comfort, connection, and distraction.
Can your company be a source for any of that?
Create content with the goal of helping your customers feel better or cope with change.
For example, a company that sells kid’s clothing or toys might create a “Guide for keeping your kids happy while working from home,” featuring one to two products they sell that can help parents in this transition.
Rethink the problem your product solves
Many small business owners are worried because they view their product as a “nice to have.” This includes those in the apparel, jewelry, art, and home décor industries (along with many others).
How do you possibly sell a bracelet to a customer who’s frantic about their elderly parent getting seriously ill? Or sell a piece of art to someone who’s panicking that the economy is crashing?
Shift your mindset.
It’s not: “This pretty accessory is a nice way to spend your extra cash when you’re in a good mood!”
It’s: “In a world that’s hurting, people need something JOYFUL and BEAUTIFUL in their life right now.”
View your product—whatever it is—not as something that’s “taking your customers’ money” but as something that’s kind and helpful for them in this time of need.
Let this new mindset guide your marketing; your customers need what you offer.
Finally, humanize your brand
Do you feel it? Do you feel the pull toward vulnerability and connection?
I sure do. And I’m guessing your customers do, too. Studies have shown that in times of crisis, we humans band together like never before.
Don’t shy away from this urge. Lean into it. Get personal in your content. Show up as the business owner on social media. Share your own fears and hopes.
Let your customers see your company for what it is: A collection of humans doing their best to make a positive mark on their corner of the world.
And if you found this article helpful, share it with your community.
Content courtesy of Krista Walsh, creative copywriting for purpose-driven companies and passionate people
CONTRIBUTING AUTHOR, KRISTA WALSH
Krista Walsh writes website copy, blog posts, and product descriptions for small eCommerce companies and service-based solopreneurs. Her writing and messaging strategies help her clients speak to their customers’ values and emotions, for meaningful sales.
In her free time, she writes about purpose-driven business and freelance life at kristawalshcopywriter.com. On the off chance she’s not writing, she’s volunteering to walk the big ole’ dogs over at the Dog Café LA or watching (pretty bad honestly) TV dramas on Netflix.