Just recently, before the novel coronavirus, your business ran as usual. But the COVID-19 pandemic has shaken things up. If you reacted like most organizations did, you have reasonably let your staff work from home, cancelled conferences, postponed member or client events and issued some communication from a management leader explaining how your organization handles the new challenges of keeping everyone safe from the virus.

Do not panic

No one can tell how long this situation will persist or when, if ever, we will be able to safely forgo social distancing and get back to doing business in person. You may rightfully feel that your organization will start losing invaluable connections with its clients or members, because the face-to-face component of communication and networking is now gone.

Does it have to be so? We at Halmyre believe it doesn’t. As consultants, we work remotely most of the time and will gladly share some useful practices and insights learned from experience.

Come to think of it, contemporary communication is mostly physically remote, and there is a plethora of digital channels that enable activities that are social in nature. You can still engage with your audience – it just requires some technological adaptation and focused effort.

You are, of course, aware of video conferencing tools – that’s what keeps your organization going while your team is working from home. But how about creating and operating in a full-scale remote business paradigm?

Create full-scale events and conferences online

Remote events can allow your audience to enjoy all the benefits of a big event, no travel required. Versatile platforms exist for all event types and sizes – online conferences, conventions, tradeshows and education – and they offer much more than standard online meeting or conferencing software:

  • Capterra automates event marketing, registration, coordination and scheduling.
  • Attendease allows you to host professional website-style event pages on your own domain, schedule features for speakers and customize access to teams working on the events, plus it offers full automation to make creating new events fast.
  • VConferenceOnline offers options for monetizing your event, including exhibitors, advertisements, games for attendees and event DVDs. You can choose livestreaming, pre-recorded or simulated live sessions.
  • vFairs enables networking and connects virtual attendees through rich interactive tools such as audio/‌video/‌text chat and polls.

Keep in touch with your audiences

Just as you do with conventional, non-remote events, remote event platforms enable you to send personalised email and short message service (SMS )reminders and other communications before and after events. You can also use the built-in social sharing function for even more engagement. If you haven’t adopted an email marketing tool yet, the options are plentiful. MailChimp and ConstantContact are just two examples of popular email tools.

Invest in awareness and promotion

Now more than ever, you will need to invest in paid digital channels to support awareness and remain top-of-mind for your clients and members. Do not retreat in a time of turmoil and uncertainty – your target needs you now to be a stable presence in their lives. If you did your homework with your value proposition and became a trusted brand, the time is now to maintain that position and be there for your clientele or members. If you are looking to build trust, now is your chance to be helpful with your offering.

What does your target need? Find out, and figure out how to become essential to their success.

Thankfully, every dollar you spend on digital campaigns is trackable in terms of measurable results. Pay per click (PPC) campaigns on Google, Bing, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram, and remarketing campaigns targeting your website visitors, can all be set up to specifically target your members and clients, and you will pay only when a targeted person clicks on your ad. Other bidding options include cost per thousand impressions (CPM) and cost per action (CPA). Paid digital tactics are effective and efficient – be sure to take advantage of this channel, promote your organization and keep the connection with your audience alive.

While a PPC campaign is vital, don’t disregard conventional marketing vehicles that are still available and widely used, such as print or digital magazines that your audience reads, outdoor billboards they drive by or radio stations they rely on for breaking news and entertainment. Keep your brand voice strong despite the worldwide need for social distancing.

Re-evaluate your messaging strategy

Many of the enabling tools mentioned above have free versions, but their paid versions are quite affordable. Your real investment will be in a robust communication strategy. The heart of all communication, regardless of the channel, is messaging. It’s a make-or-break factor for any communication – either you get your audience’s attention or you will lose them forever to the flood of distracting messages that bombard them every minute. How do you grab your audience’s attention? Find out what your members or clients see as a problem that needs to be solved – and build a conversation around it.

If you are anything like us at Halmyre, your next step will be helping clients and members find strategic solutions, and that’s as close as you can get to business as usual in a time of uncertainty.

What to do with this information today

Do:

  • Audit your value proposition and reinforce its meaning for your target – today.
  • Go back to your strategy fundamentals – change your plan, not your strategy.
  • Engage a partner that will share the burden and become an extension of your marketing team when you need it most – because you’re busy setting up your team and operations for success in times of uncertainty.

Don’t:

  • Forget what you stand for and what value you are bringing to your clients or members.
  • Change your strategy because the times are changing – if your strategy is solid, it will work today.
  • Overextend yourself or your team with tasks and projects that can be delegated – it’s time to rely on partners you trust.

About Lana Morley

Halmyre Director of Marketing Strategy Lana Morley is a marketing guru with a strong mix of digital and traditional media expertise applicable to any problem-solving scenario in any industry. Her calling is to create and implement winning promotion and acquisition strategies and she has worked agency-side and client-side for over a decade. Lana holds an MBA from Schulich School of Business, York University, in Toronto and a Master's degree in Philosophy from a National University in Ukraine where she is originally from.


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