If you’ve always counted on personal contact to spread the word about your business or service, the last 18 months have been challenging! What have you done to keep connected? I plan to write a couple of Memos on the topic and would be happy to share your thoughts. (Email below.)
Here are some starter ideas based on conversations with clients as well as my own experience.
Use the virtual tools: The reality of our life today is that people have a variety of different feelings about in-person meetings. I see this every day. First, try to diplomatically explore the comfort level of each person. I’ve been surprised by healthcare clients who are okay with in-person meetings and utility clients who only meet via Zoom. Whatever the venue, the point is to stay in touch! We have long gone past the “well, let’s just wait until we can meet in person” period. If these people are significant to you and your business, you need to stay connected in whatever way they are comfortable.
Write a Monthly Memo: For a small $20,000.00 licensing fee, you too can write a Monthly Memo. (Kidding!) The point is to offer some regular content for your community. The more thoughtful or thought provoking the better, as long as it stays on brand. Is there one voice that best expresses your organization? Can the person who speaks in that voice add this to their to-do list? I would encourage team members to suggest topics and always listen for kernels of ideas as you go about your work. (For the record, I write each Memo and really enjoy the exercise. Once, I had someone fill in as a “guest columnist” and, while they did a great job, it felt a bit “off brand.”)
Stay consistent: If you would connect with your people once a month, keep doing it. Don’t let COVID be your excuse for disappearing off the radar. As soon as you seem to disconnect it is an opening for someone else to step in. A creative friend of mine, Pat Hazell, started hosting virtual parties (“Be in the Zoom where it happened!”) with special guests from the Hamilton cast who had been sidelined during the heart of the pandemic. Now that’s a get-together people will show up for! Sure, Broadway stars may not be in your circle, but what if you offer special access to senior leaders from your organization? Your CEO can sit at their desk and zip thru a dozen of these in a couple of hours. Whatever works for your organization, keep the calendar full of visits.
Keep it genuine: This is the most important point and why I’ve left it for last. If you remember nothing else about communication and marketing in the virtual world, know that you need to keep your efforts genuine. Let’s say you don’t feel comfortable with some aspect of it – Zoom meetings for example – say it! Make it part of your conversation, then listen to the client and help that set your course moving forward. Be up front and genuine about your feelings while also moving ahead.
Life and business are all about adjusting. Sure, the last 18 months have felt like a constant list of adjustments, but there is much to this time that has been a shared experience. Use that as your jumping off point to keep telling your story and staying connected.