Marketing in a Pandemic

Marketing in a Pandemic

This post is being written in bursts between video uploads, legislative update emails, Zoom meetings, and many snacks for my 4-year-old who is at home with me all day.  (I stopped counting screen time and glasses of wine on Quarantine Day 3).  I don’t have all of the answers, but I have been giving thought to how I can best support my clients in helping you support YOUR clients through this terrible time.  If you find a typo or grammatical error below, forgive me on this Friday afternoon.  Also, yes the featured image is my little guy riding his bike… because one more photo of a virus is one too many this week.

Review everything in the queue   

First things first, anything you had queued-up or planned needs to be reviewed and potentially stopped.   What seemed OK in December would be appalling today and what seems OK today may seem tone-deaf next week.  If you’re working from an editorial calendar developed at the beginning of the year, you’ll want to review it before publishing articles on autopilot.  In doing this for my clients, I stopped an article in the queue for April for an estate planning law firm called “What to Expect as a Surviving Spouse”.  EEK!  That could have gone viral for the WRONG reasons!

Shorten your planning timeline

News is flying out of Washington and State Houses across the country.  The advice you give clients today may be different from what you will say next week.  While we might like to plan ahead for articles or third-party social posts or events to host in the late spring, now is not the time for long-range planning.

Consider this; a CPA firm client told me that he got a question from a business owner looking for a way to save cash and asked about delaying sales tax payments to the State.  The CPA had to advise against it – until two days later when the State changed those exact rules!

It is important to stay agile because the news is moving fast.  It’s OK to “plan” on something for a few weeks from now but I would be ready to delay or cancel any public announcements or publications depending on the mood of the community/country at that time.

Communicate often

E-V-E-R-Y company sent an email about their response to COVID-19.  After the 12th one I stopped opening them.  We’re past that phase.  We know you’re working remotely and that your email and phones still work.  Great.  Now your communications can back to be substantive.  Communicate often with clients about the ways in which they can count on you that maybe they didn’t need to before.  Their needs have changed and your guidance is more important to them than ever.

One client of mine is doing daily videos both about the legislative changes and about how business owners can survive this turbulent time.   We’re posting them on YouTube, the blog, social, and sending a daily aggregated email.

Synthesize information for your clients

A while back I wrote about the importance of professional services firm advisors being the information synthesizers for clients.  There is too much data, but not enough understanding.  Today that’s still true and ON TOP OF IT there is more misinformation in the world, facts are changing every day, emotions are running high, and everyone has TOO MUCH to do.  If you can be the voice of reason and help find order in the swirling storm of options and priorities, you’ll have found yourself a client for life.   Help your clients understand their options and take action. Business owners need to know what they should prioritize first and how to comply with new regulations.

Don’t just push out your version of the latest legislative announcement, tell your clients what it means for them.  If it applies to more than one audience, break it down into sections.   Or, better yet, if have (or can quickly) segment your database, you can send people just the information they need.   With “too much” out there, people find great value in content that is relevant to them.  (A quick note that this was GOING TO be my March article topic until, you know, the apocalypse.)

When you can, plan ahead

COVID-19 will eventually be under control.  Just as it was important that you were agile during this crisis, it will also be important for you to help your clients see the path out.  If you can take time to think through what questions you’ll get as we turn the corner, then you’ll be ready to provide guidance to clients as we transition back to the old normal.   (Hopefully it will be sooner than later.)  I predict “business as usual” will come sooner for some industries than others based on the ways in which they were impacted.   Think about your niche areas.  What might be different later than it was before?  Unemployment?  Company debt?   Employees who want to work longer because their 401(k)s are down?  Business owners who will decide to sell?   Companies that will be forced to merge?  Employees who refuse to go back to an in-office environment in favor of remote work?

Take care of yourself

You can’t advise others if you’re distracted, exhausted, and stressed out.  It’s Friday.  Those of you who can, take a weekend as a weekend.  Challenge yourself to a full day without screens (and especially Twitter… there’s nothing good happening there!).    My son and I went for a walk today to find evidence of Spring.  It’s coming!  Get outdoors, start your spring cleaning, read a book, breathe!

I’m here for you!

Whatever you need, we’re going to make it happen.  You know how to reach me!

And just remember…. Pants are optional for video conferences (or video play dates with your grandparents)… not pictured – me on a Zoom meeting… wearing pants!

Alison Simons Receives Boston Club’s Virtual Reality Award

Alison Simons Receives Boston Club’s Virtual Reality Award

It is awkward to write about your own award – but I would do it for any of you, so I should do it for myself.

I have been an active member of The Boston Club since 2011.  Having served on the Governance, Corporate Relations, Programs Leadership, and Marketing committees – many of those simultaneously so that I could liaise between them – I like to think that my time has made an impact.

In 2016 I had the idea that programming and member communications and relationship building needed to move beyond just in-person options.  So, under my leadership, the marketing committee worked with the technology committee to devise, design, and launch ROME, the Remote and Online Member Engagement initiative.

Essentially we allowed members to engage with Boston Club committees and programs digitally – through Zoom meetings instead of conference calls (admittedly not always a popular option) and to access programming through live streaming, video clips, blog posts, and Facebook Live.  The roll-out was led by my co-winner of the award, Stefanie Heiter (shown left in the photo).

Thank you for the kind recognition of the Virtual Reality Award.  It is always a pleasure to see ideas put into practice and appreciated by others.

If I can help your firm with new ideas, please contact me!

What I’m Reading this Month: February 2018

What I’m Reading this Month: February 2018

I hate February.  Its only redeeming quality is that it’s short…. except that now I find myself with 3 fewer days than normal to write an article for you all.  (My tardiness couldn’t possibly be because I’m in Florida with my little guy.)

As anyone who also write blog posts knows, it takes time to consider and present ideas well.  I’d rather do justice to my on-deck topic, the difference between marketing and business development, in a March article than rush through it now.  Stay tuned!

It has been a while since I’ve shared what I’m reading.  There are some great resources for you!  Happy reading!

 

BOOK:  The Longevity Economy by Joseph Coughlin of the MIT AgeLab

“In The Longevity Economy, Dr. Coughlin provides the framing and insight business leaders need to serve the growing older market: a vast, diverse group of consumers representing every possible level of health and wealth, worth about $8 trillion in the United States alone and climbing.”

“MIT’s AgeLab has a message for you about a severely underestimated, undertapped market. By 2050, people over 65 will be more than 16.7% of the world’s population—and more than 25% of the populations of some European and Asian countries. Yet ‘less than 15 percent of companies have established any sort of strategies focused on older adults.’ Meanwhile, older women in particular are projected by economists to have a huge influence on the marketplace.” (1)

 

ARTICLE:  A Winning LinkedIn Profile:  Three Questions to Ask and Answer

Why LinkedIn?  “Nearly 80% of marketers consider [LinkedIn] the most effective social media source of lead generation.”  “Fully 92% of B2B marketers prefer LinkedIn over other social networks.”

This article does a nice job of talking about what areas of your profile to focus on and how to give a great first impression.

 

STUDY:  The Hinge Marketing 2018 High Growth Study Executive Summary  (Note: gated content but well worth the download)

“[H]igh-growth firms listed the top five most impactful marketing techniques as networking at targeted conferences, trade shows and events; providing assessments or consultations; providing demos, either in person or through digital channels; using a proposal took kit; and speaking at the aforementioned conferences. Providing downloadable, gated content, publishing written blog posts, video blogging and nurturing prospects through phone calls also made the top 10.”

 

BONUS:  Pictures of a cute kid in Florida

Painting with Grammy!

He calls this “dig dig”

How the Fastest Growing CPA Firms Spend their Marketing Budgets

How the Fastest Growing CPA Firms Spend their Marketing Budgets

Next month I’ll be presenting on the topic of How the Fastest Growing CPA Firms Spend their Marketing Dollars at the MSCPA’s Practice Management conference.  If you’re a CPA, I’ll hope you attend!

While the research this article (and presentation) is based on is from CPA firms, I believe the basic principles are true for all of professional services firms, so everyone, please, read on!

(more…)

Mea Culpa and baby pics

Mea Culpa and baby pics

Niagara Maid of the Mist

My family on the Maid of the Mist in Niagara Falls.

It’s time to start using the past tense when referring to the summer… as sad as that is.  But here we are on the doorstep of Labor Day.  Which is a reminder that I’ve let time slip by without a blog post.  All I can say is, I’m sorry, mea culpa, and I’ll be back on track for September.  Until then, I’ll distract you with the same thing that distracted me this summer… my son, Jack.  True to form he has something in – or going in – his mouth in half of these photos!

 

(more…)