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How to Adjust Your Messaging & Strategy in a Crisis

By: Andrea Panno

Times are different right now. There’s no question about that. For B2B companies, this means that the messaging and marketing tactics you use to reach prospects right now, should be different too.

In B2B industries where many healthcare, technology, manufacturing, and business services companies are still serving customers, even if through an adjusted business continuity plan, it’s important that new and existing customers know how the crisis is affecting your business, and how it may affect them.

During this crisis, we’ve helped clients adapt their marketing messaging, strategy, and tactics to account for the times we’re living in with relevant, tactful, and helpful communications. Companies like medical apparel and PAPR suppliers, facility services, and technology companies, are critical to this pandemic, and it’s never been more important for them to communicate clearly to their stakeholders.

Whether you’re fully operational, working from a continuity plan, or temporarily closed, we want to help you communicate your status to stakeholders with the right message, on the right channels.

How to Adjust Your Messaging In a Crisis

Times like these require thoughtfulness and tact. Emails and ads with messaging that was clearly written pre-crisis sticks out like a sore thumb, and risks turning prospects off from your brand. You may have experienced a few of these “sore thumbs” for yourself the past few weeks. Avoid being one of these brands by IMMEDIATELY checking on any automated emails or social media posts that are scheduled to publish in the next few weeks. Ask yourself: Is this the right time to launch or promote this campaign?

Adjusting your messaging platform should be a priority right now. You need to get important information out to your audience about the status of your business and its products and services. Marketing managers should work alongside management, human resources, and sales to gather the facts about your company’s situation. Then, work with your agency or copywriter to write messaging.

Your messaging should answer these questions:

  • Is your company operational? Fully or partly?
  • Are you taking on new clients?
  • Do you have a business continuity plan?
  • Will there be service or product delays?
  • How are you managing employee safety?
  • How are you supporting the community?

Clarity and tone are extremely important here. In a crisis, people want facts so they can make informed decisions. The facts, however, must be written in a tone that matches the emotional state that the readers are in today, which might be more serious, direct, or urgent than your normal communications.

Where to Promote Your Message in a Crisis

  • Website Banner or Popup

Your website is the online face of your company. It’s the first place prospects and customers are going to look to for updates about your company’s status in a time of crisis, so it’s important that they receive the information they’re looking for right away. Create a banner or pop-up box that provides the most important fact first. In this crisis, the biggest question is: Are you open or closed for business? See how this company utilized a brightly colored banner at the top of their website.

  • Editorial Content
    First things first: remove irrelevant content from your editorial calendar for the next few weeks. As we discussed, publishing content that was written pre-crisis can stand out negatively and turn readers off. In times like these, the crisis is top-of-mind, and reading something that doesn’t acknowledge the state of the world can be perceived as canned, insensitive, and even confusing. Consider ways to adjust your topics to be relevant and helpful based on your area of expertise.

    • If you’re a technology company, discuss remote working best practices.
    • If you’re a healthcare company, discuss how your solutions are helping the issue.
    • If you’re a manufacturing company, discuss continuity across the supply chain.

That said, stay in your lane. Everyone is publishing content—if you have nothing to do with remote working, stay away from the topic no matter how important or interesting you think it is.

  • Dedicated Landing Pages
    If your company is fully operational and working from a business continuity plan that supports the needs of your customers, it’s important to publish this information to foster transparency and trust. Landing pages are a great channel for building a dedicated page for all of the important information. Your landing page can serve as a resource for Frequently Asked Questions, your crisis communications plan and messaging platform, helpful links to other relevant resources and organizations, messages of support and thanks, and so on. Review Keystone Healthcare’s landing page example.
  • Email Marketing
    Like your editorial calendar, double check that you don’t have any irrelevant emails going out in the next few weeks. Instead, use email as a primary communication tool for prospects, customers, employees, and other stakeholders. People expect communication right now! Even if your business is continuing as usual…you should be using email to let people know and to stay top of mind. In a crisis, you want to get ahead of the narrative in your industry by creating the information yourself.

If you’re wondering what type of message to send to your stakeholders, use this as a starting point:

  • Prospects: Let prospects know the status of your company and you can support them
  • Customers: Let customers know of any changes to your services and express support
  • Employees: Let employees know their safety is your priority and communicate details
  • Stakeholders: Let other stakeholders know about the status of your company
  • Email Signatures
    A small but powerful tactic. Think about how many emails you send in a day. Use this channel to publish important information from your messaging platform. Tools like Sigstr allow you to create professional banners promoting specific content. See how we’re using Sigstr in the example shown.

  • Public Relations
    PR is an interesting tactic during times of crisis. News outlets are typically flooded with urgent information and updates about the crisis, meaning there might be less bandwidth for outlets to cover news about your company that’s unrelated to the current event. However, during times of crisis, certain outlets are looking for good-news stories to uplift the world. If your company is doing something to support the community, relief organizations, first responders, or small businesses, let people know—but do it for the right reasons, not because you want to promote your company.
  • Social Media

After your website, social media is the next place prospects and customers will go to find updates about your company’s status in a time of crisis. Be smart about how you use social media:

  • Update your profile with information about your hours of operation if that applies
  • Post and pin any important messages about your company’s status to the top of your page
  • Use your channels as a place to promote your relevant content and landing pages
  • Leverage hashtags when appropriate to become part of the global conversation

Sustain Traction by Staying Relevant With These Adjustments

We can’t plan for unprecedented times like these, but we can adapt as events unfold. Consider all the marketing tactics your company is currently running and make small adjustments to accommodate for these temporary times. It’s important to stay top-of-mind to your audience—but only by being helpful, informative, and relevant.

At Sagefrog, our fully operational team is working remotely, helping our clients communicate with their stakeholders through strategy, website updates, blogs, content, emails, social media, digital marketing, and everything in between. If you need help adjusting your message and tactics, we’re available to help you deal with the disruption and sustain traction with responsive support and full-service marketing.

Download this helpful guide to help you communicate your status to stakeholders with the right message, on the right channels.

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