By: Bonnie Kaye, Kaye Communications PR & Marketing
Special to the Boca and Delray newspaper
While we have all gone through the same storm, rest assured, we are all not surviving the COVID-19 health and economic crisis in the same boat. And that goes for you and your staff, and your customers, clients or donors and their families and friends, businesses, staff, etc.
Some are heartbroken to furlough or lay off staff; some have children who have already been accepted to their dream college have, due top cost, chosen to defer enrollment for a year. Others continue to grieve the loss of loved ones to COVID, some can’t continue to work because there is no one to take care of their children. Many businesses were lost during the first phase of re-opening, some survived because of the initial federal assistance programs that have now expired.
The second inning will bring other disruptions and many businesses will need to pivot once again. To be successful in the next phase, businesses must continually change their marketing mindset per each niche audience…and that audience’s needs (not wants) right now.
Right now, most of the general public are functioning in the lowest levels of Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs theory re: human motivation. A vast majority of people are not interested in the highest levels of self-actualization or esteem; they are seeking to fulfill the most basic needs: air, water, food, shelter, sleep, personal security, employment, resources, health and property, and those businesses that can remedy one or more will succeed.
Plain and Simple, “Know thy Audience”
Be mindful of the following when planning your pivots, client customer/donor communications and external marketing.
- It’s not what you have to sell, but what they need. Perhaps you can re-direct your production, design, menu; partner with another company for a mutual win. If you are a company/retailer that sends weekly emails about cruises. travel or other luxury products, services and experiences, consider adding a link in your emails offering customers the option to pause messages for the time being.
- It’s not what you say, but how you say it. Be sensitive; it is all about them. So many are on the emotional edge and how you approach them during COVID will be the difference between brand engagement or total disconnect.
- It’s not what you say, but when are you saying it. Make sure that when marketing on social and digital media, e-blasts, direct mail arrives that your customers/donors will be open to what you are offering. Be a “news” watcher/reader to get relevant on trends, special needs in the community and for your constituents. Avoid marketing after critically bad news is announced that directly affects your customers/donors, as parents have been with public and college closings, eviction legislation for parents.
- It’s not just what you are sharing, but to whom you are sharing. While this sounds like a “no brainer” many businesses continue to send their news to their total database without separating for niche market messaging. It is like sending a men’s clothing sale ad to a database of women, or a pharmaceutical company sending a women’s product to all customers). Yes, men can be a referral to women, but what the marketing is telling them is that a company doesn’t care about or know their audience needs.
- Always Seek New Opportunities
Because a great number of small businesses have been shuttered, they are forced to find another provider. Many fear trying something new, like a new vendor (i.e. printer, food supplier) or solution (i.e. hair salon, dentist restaurant, retailer). To gain this trust, know that:
- Empathy is critical
- Allow for building trust over time
- Be authentic; people do business with those they know, like and trust, especially now.
Bonnie Kaye can be reached at 561-392-5166, email@example.com