So much of business in both the for and non-profit worlds has changed over the past few months. It’s done some really good things for business/organization owners and it’s also added lots of challenges and forced them into things they hadn’t done before. We’re not done changing yet and we certainly haven’t seen the end of the virus yet, but to start the month off for the next couple of weeks I thought I’d share a few things that I’ve seen some companies/organizations doing that I’ve really appreciated, and some suggestions for how we continue going forward.
Today we’re starting with one of my favorite topics, and that’s communication and staying connected. In the past I think many companies, especially the local/event businesses, took advantage of the fact that they didn’t really have to do a ton of work to stay connected with their customers, the customers just show up because the business is near where they live. Maybe they would encourage visits with frequent flyer discount cards or branded merchandise, and maybe they’d have a social presence that they updated occasionally, or send out a newsletter for Black Friday or the annual fundraising time. But the past few months of customers not being able to do regular activities has been a big strain on many businesses and they’ve been forced into really working to establish the online presence and offerings that don’t require people to be as physically present as before.
Having a regular presence on social media is important and one great way to not only develop a relationship but also share information with customers and potential customers, but so is having your own website and email newsletter. People are frequently on social media, but you don’t have nearly as much control over social media as you do over your own website and email (and optionally print) newsletter. None of this has to be complicated (or overly expensive), but it does have to be consistent and very regular.
Over the past few months I’ve gotten more information and updates from politicians than I ever have, I’ve heard from more frequently authors and other non-profit organizations with all kinds up updates and support and encouragement, and even some businesses have adjusted their marketing strategies to include less promotion and more personal updates and more community support. All of this connection effort shows your customers and supporters that you’re doing your best to be there for them and build a supportive and positive relationship with them.
Going forward what does all of this mean? It means that businesses really shouldn’t depend on customers just showing up, which means that they have to be more proactive about reaching out and supporting customers in a variety of ways, especially with updated information and ideas/support. If you don’t yet have a regular social strategy, a regular e-newsletter (and optionally print as well), and an updated-as-necessary website, it’s past time to get on that. How are you connecting with your customers and supporters?