You’ve made banana bread, joined House Party (then deleted House Party), watched Tiger King, and then probably ostriched when it has come to promoting your work right now?
If I’m right, then read on. Whether your services have never been more in demand or your work dried up overnight you need to be communicating with your audience right now. Here are my tips to help you do just that.
1. What is your mission?
Yep. We need to go back to the drawing board. Why are you doing what it is you are doing? This is relevant pandemic or not. There was a reason you became a freelancer in the first place. What work do you want to do? Who do you want to serve? If you are not clear on what you are doing, you might be distracted to take less mission critical work, and this will take you away from your own business goals. Write down what you do, who your target audience is why you do what you do. Really drill down into the fundamentals behind your work. Then assess if you need to pivot what you are doing for this period. This is a marathon not a sprint so doesn’t kneejerk react to offering your work for a discount or for free. Equally, you don’t want to burn out by trying to overcommunicate quickly right now. Pace yourself and get a plan into place.
2. Read, read, read
Not the breaking news (I mean, a bit is ok but don’t get distracted). I’m talking about the publications your potential target audience can be found. There are a few reasons why this is beneficial. Firstly, it will help you identify a few journalists that are relevant for your business. It is only by studying the stories being covered that we can get a better idea of what a news outlet will cover. Struggling to feel creative? Reading inspiring stories of freelance and small business pivots and positive publicity news is going to assist you.
Many national titles are taking guest articles or including small businesses in a way I have never seen before in the 16 years I’ve worked in publicity. Look at the comment & opinion pages, real-life and first-person articles. Think about how you could use your personal situation to talk right now. Things that are very topical obviously include tips for working from home, working with your partner, office interiors, hobbies & craft, recipes from the store cupboard, quirky ways to connect at this time. See if you can spot a way to talk about yourself which maybe doesn’t directly talk about your product or service.
3. It IS what you say AND the way you say it
All of our communication for business is currently virtual. This means, you not only need to make sure your messaging is not off-piste but also that you are watching your tone and language. Make sure you don’t have any pre-scripted social media posts drafted that are unsuitable. Check your social media bios across all channels and ensure they are in good taste. Have a look at some of the bigger businesses that you respect and the language, messaging and tone they are using. Writing to promote your business is a muscle that needs training and exercising so by observing the techniques of others doing it well we can absorb that intonation. You are still allowed to celebrate your wins just been mindful of how others are feeling at this time. If you are on the other end of the spectrum asking for help or support is perfectly acceptable. Be really specific in your ask so your community knows how it can help you.
4. Keep it personal
Everyone globally is affected by what is happening in the world, which means for the first time ever, everyone, everywhere has something in common that we can all relate to. So make sure you are speaking to your audience. We can take our inspiration from big business where the CEOs are writing letters to their customers, taking out national advertisements talking to their audience. The key at this time is to make sure if you have not been doing so that you are putting yourself at the front of your business. As this current situation has shown us as humans, we crave social interaction and to be social. We also empathise with each other a lot. So putting yourself out there will help your audience or even a new audience to connect with you and that is going to help translate into new business for you either now or later down the line.
If you don’t feel like you want to talk or share with your audience right now. That is ok too but make sure you are keeping your customers or clients up to date with the situation your side. It’s ok to say you are taking some time away, now more than ever people will understand this, but you must always communicate what you are doing from your side.
5. Keep looking ahead
Babies are still being born, birthdays, anniversaries and occasions are still celebrated, summer is around the corner, before you know it the Christmas countdown is going to be on. Some people are still buying, and some businesses are still flourishing – can you think about ways you can innovate to service your audience in a different way right now? If not now, can you spend this time doing some preparation for what is coming ahead?
At the core, all great promotion is well thought through and aligned with your business goals. This doesn’t just change in the current climate but how you speak to your audience should.