It may not feel like it, and certainly the old hard sell probably ain’t a great idea at the moment. (Frankly, it wasn’t a great idea a month ago when we were still operating under the “old normal.”)
Then again, the other extreme may not be much better. We’re all getting dozens of thinly-veiled sales pitches in the form of a “we’re here for you” message every day.
A personal appeal like that might seem to be the obvious and safe choice — but only until you think about the underlying emotion. How do you react when someone with whom you have only a casual relationship suddenly goes out of their way to be helpful? If you’re like me, your “spidey-sense’ starts tingling and you’re immediately either suspicious or creeped out.
The same holds true for brands. If you’ve never been there for them on a personal level before, your new-found concern and compassion may set off alarms.
To be fair, that’s not entirely your fault. Many of us are feeling a little more “we’ than “me” right now, even as we worry about what our futures hold. And we are sincerely trying to connect. But about a billion brands have gotten there first, and not all of them have been as sincere as you are.
I’m not suggesting you go dark during this crisis. I am suggesting that your sales and marketing be done with sensitivity.
Offer your heartfelt thoughts for those who are suffering, but do it concisely and then move on to helping. That’s what will elevate your message today. Sincere offers of help.
Your help has to be, well, helpful. “If there’s anything we can do …” puts the onus on your audience to sort out how you might be able to help. Nobody is going to take that seriously.
Offer specific help or share ideas about how others are responding to their changed circumstances. (We’re helping our clients add announcements to their home page, create issue-specific email newsletter templates, crafting messaging that keeps their clients informed about how current conditions affect services, and so on.)
Your goal should be to let clients and prospects see that you are prepared for and adapting to this mighty strange situation.
For most of us, our businesses are not built on a project here or a retainer there. They’re built on relationships forged over time. And I expect that as we do weather this storm, those relationships will be why. For that, I am truly grateful.
Now, who’s up for a virtual happy hour? Give a shout!