I didn’t expect to be celebrating my two-year ‘going self-employed’ anniversary on lockdown, with the country in the midst of fighting a global pandemic. But here we are.
Two years ago, I left the University of Southampton to go freelance and what a two year’s it’s been. Massive wins, desperate lows, valuable lessons learnt and new relationships that I will keep for life. It’s been a roller-coaster of emotions and it’s been really difficult at times, but it has also been incredible exciting and a lot of fun.
Like most people the coronavirus has turned my professional and personal life upside down and now I find myself losing clients, juggling homeschooling, worrying about the future and looking forward to the one-hour of government-endorsed outside exercise.
Professionally, it’s not all been bad. Some work has come in, old clients have asked for help and my networks have remained incredibly supportive. I recognize that it has not been like that for many people who run their own businesses and I realise I am in a lucky position and am extremely grateful.
Understandably many businesses are doing everything they can to survive at this time and therefore quality communications will fall down the priority list. But I believe, this will actually hinder a business’ progress. Clear and concise communications with your audiences, whether that’s customers, stakeholders, funders, are needed now more than ever.
Content is one of the most effective ways to market a business or a product. It’s great for a website’s SEO and it can increase engagement and return on investment – 72% of marketers say content marketing increases the number of leads.
However, for some brands and organisations, the ability to use clear messaging is a challenge, especially in a time like this, when everything is upside down. But do not worry. There are a few easy things you can do to ensure your messages remaining on the point and not alienate people.
Consider which channels you’re using
When time is short, or you feel like you’re in a troubled situation like the current pandemic, choosing the best channels to reach your audience is vital. Pick the one or two that reach your audience the easiest and get the best engagement. That may mean putting a few social media channels on the back burner. Making sure the right message is being distributed via the right channel is really important. Your audience will digest the message more quickly and things will not get lost in translation.
Post regularly but not too much
Getting the balance of posting the right amount of content is not easy. Many businesses either post too much or not enough – both will alienate your audience. The key is to be aware of what your audience likes and responds well to – if you see a drop off in engagement think about what you posted and when. Was it only an hour after your previous post? Or maybe a few days?
Why use 30 words when 10 will do?
This seems so simple but so many people want to use more words than actually needed. A good exercise when creating your messaging is to write out the same thing in different ways to see if you can reduce the words used. Be clear, to the point and your audience will digest it much easier.
We are all dealing with the coronavirus pandemic in different ways. The best thing you can do is be honest. If you need you’re audience to do something, ask them. Make the content authentic and true to you and your brand and the engagement will be richer.
Images or video
We live in a visual world – especially on social media. Content with images are more likely to get more views and shares so will help spread your message wider. Consider what photos, slide shows or infographics you could include to make your post a thumb-stopping post. Similarly, videos get just as much attention. YouTube is now a major marketing platform and audiences now demand more video content – 54% of customers prefer to see videos, over other marketing tactics, from the brands they support.
Be ready for the recovery phase
This pandemic will end at some point and when it does, businesses and brands will all be fighting for marketing space. Be ready for that. Plan some content now to use when things start to ease. If you do the preparation now, you will not be grappling around for ideas when others are racing ahead.
The pandemic is causing every business owner some sort of stress at the moment, but don’t let quality content and communications activity be one of them. Your audiences want and need to hear from you.