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As the COVID-19 pandemic disrupts our daily lives, forcing many of us to work from home, it’s important to maintain business as usual as best you can.

With so much uncertainty in the air, business owners have a responsibility to provide calm and responsive leadership. Obviously, in-person contact is discouraged during this period of “social distancing.” Fortunately, there are various ways in the digital age to maintain communication with coworkers and clients.

Over the Phone
You should compile a list of your employees’ phone numbers (work and personal, if necessary) and email it to everyone in the company. Sometimes it’s easier to call or shoot a text, especially in a time crunch. You should also set up a weekly conference call so everyone shares what they’re working on, how they’re handling working from home, company updates and ideas for projects. Free conference call services include FreeConference (up to 400 participants at a time), UberConference (45-minute limit, up to 10 participants at a time) and FreeConferenceCall (1,000 participants at a time).

While having a paper trail is preferred when communicating with clients, it’s important to check in with at least one phone call to see how they’re doing and how you can help. Our inboxes have been inundated with email blasts from brands we haven’t engaged with in forever, claiming to care about us during this trying time. Picking up the phone and speaking with your customers shows you truly care. You can follow up via text in the days and weeks to come.

Email
Email is the dominant form of communication in the promotional products industry; nearly 92% of end-buyers use it to do business with distributors, according to ASI research. Older generations have adopted it, and despite all the chatter over social media and texting, younger generations do rely on email. In fact, nearly 68% of teenagers and 73% of twenty-somethings prefer communications from businesses to come via email, according to email marketing company Adestra.

But with people receiving hundreds of emails per day, it’s imperative to grab your recipient. Compelling subject lines are essential. They must be attention-getting, but not misleading. And because email apps will cut off the subject line, make sure the first 35 characters contain the most important words.

There are many pitfalls to avoid, such as misspellings, incorrect grammar and misrepresentation of tone. If someone doesn’t know your sense of humor, they can misconstrue what you intended as a joke as an insult. Read your email aloud to make sure the message you’re trying to get across is easily understood. Also, always proofread your writing before sending. Use your built-in spellcheck or free software tools like Grammarly to fix any mistakes and make your message crystal clear.

Social Media
The importance of maintaining an active social media presence should be common knowledge by now. After all, more than 30% of distributors say social networking has gained them new business in 2018, up from 19% four years prior, according to 2019 Counselor State of the Industry data.

With so much time at home, people will be scrolling social media more than ever before. You should be posting on your company’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn pages daily. Inform your customers of how you’re handling the pandemic, any service restrictions, product delays, etc. Create and share content that will help their business: tutorials on new technology, software and social media features; productivity tips; advice for dealing with stress; and new products related to their industry. Scan your clients’ pages to see how they’ve been affected by the pandemic, looking for any opportunities that you can capitalize on. Being proactive is crucial at a time when your competition will be looking for the same opportunities.

-COUNSELER – by John Corrigan

 

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