How have you been feeling when marketing messages ping into your inbox? I’ve unsubscribed from more than a few. I’ve also unfollowed more people on social media than ever before. If I see a name in my inbox or on my social media timelines, and it doesn’t make me feel good, I block it.

At this rate there’s a risk that my Twitter feed will comprise mostly bots talking to other bots.

What this means to you

Pushing your usual sales message at a time like this will feel ill-timed, ill-judged and inappropriate to the recipients. You also need to avoid people thinking you’re jumping on any kind of bandwagon.

If you do have to send a message, tone of voice is critical. Don’t send an update that’s all ‘me, me, me’ e.g. here’s what we’re doing to keep our staff safe, letting them work at home etc. The underlying message behind all that is ‘please keep buying from us’.

Times are suddenly and unexpectedly tough and getting tougher, events are being cancelled, projects postponed, budgets withdrawn, and businesses forced to close. Yet we all need to generate income to survive.

So what should you do instead?

Don’t hard-sell.

Don’t make your copy all about you. Include something about them. Show you care. Give them ideas how they can help themselves (like I’m doing here, and in every other tipsheet I’ve issued).

Show empathy. To do this, it’s even more important than ever to use ‘bottom-up language (you and your) rather than top-down language (I, us, we, our).

Check, edit or cancel any automated social media messages you may have running. First, because they’re not necessarily a good idea anyway. Mostly because one insensitive update could lose you years of goodwill.

Don’t pass on fake news. Check your sources. Again, this has always been good advice. Even more so now.

Be open, honest, transparent and human. This was also always good advice. Be even more authentic in your marketing comms.

Admit your vulnerability, because it’s a strength. You know how nice it is to be able to help others, when you can. Now let others experience that feeling by helping you, if they can.

If you need help, just ask. It might not feel natural. It might not be easy. You might be surprised to find who’s out there ready, willing and able to support you. (Also look out for the new ‘Just Ask’ book by Andy Lopata, coming soon).

After this is all over, things aren’t going to be the same. But if it’s taught us one thing, it’s that we’re one world. We may be in isolation but we’re not alone. We’re all in this together. And luckily we have technology so we can stay connected, even if we’re geographically remote.

I hope you and your loved ones stay well x


Jackie Barrie · March 24, 2020 at 7:02 am

I had another thought. One-to-many marketing is the challenge, because it’s hard to pitch it right. One-to-one marketing is the way forward. It’s a good time to contact each of your clients and suppliers individually to see how they are doing. Human-to-human. It’s another trend that’s been on its way anyway, and now it’s even more important.

Jackie Barrie · March 24, 2020 at 8:31 am

In summary, when you communicate with your target customers, don’t say: “Here’s what I offer”. Instead, ask what they need.

For example: “You know what we do. You don’t need us to tell you. Instead, tell us what you need and how we can help you. We’ll see what we can do.”

Be sincere.

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