More than ever, business owners have had to communicate good, bad, and ugly news, sometimes all in the same day. The pandemic may be the biggest hurdle of an entrepreneur’s journey and yet there may also be a silver lining: If you can communicate how valuable your services are to your community, you may just be able to create more raving fans for your business.
Start by reestablishing your “why” with your clientele and team: Shine a light on why you started this business and how it is more important (or perhaps how it’s shifted) during this crisis time. Maybe your why is to improve kids’ math skills through music education, or to help stressed-out moms relax through yoga classes. Perhaps you are building stronger kids through the arts or teaching kids self-control through fitness. Whatever your reason for being is, reeducate your people about it and show them how that reason is even more beneficial during a crisis. Share this kind of information publicly using social media platforms, newsletters, or advertising.
Share Your Story
Don’t be afraid to be transparent about how this crisis has affected you personally and professionally. Take your clients on your journey so they will rally behind you and feel the bond of your common experience. For example, let them know of the little mishaps that your business experienced during this transition. Maybe you had technical difficulties, or maybe you are experiencing the same homeschooling struggles your clients are. Let them get a glimpse of your common struggle. Share this kind of information more privately in small group chats, targeted emails, and Zoom calls.
Find Out What Matters
Get to the heart of your clients’ wants and needs. Send out surveys; ask questions. Listen to their answers and deliver on their requests as best as you can. Then, wow them by over-delivering in the ways you are able. Maybe consider a special discount for essential workers or first responders. Or consider hosting free and fun activities on social media to keep families busy. Try surprising clients and team members with some exclusive swag or bonus material mailed right to their house.
Double-Down on Your Culture
Create a culture of giving and community action for those in need. When your people see you lending a hand, they will too. Find a way and help your furloughed and financially suffering clients through payment extensions or payment plans. Some studios have even had clients anonymously pay other clients fees or tuition. Get families involved with making a difference in the community through donations or acts of service that you have helped facilitate, such as food bank collections or having small groups of (safely distanced) students perform outside nursing home windows to entertain residents.
Show your humanity. Remember that many people are stressed and anxious right now, and there will be people who overreact to regulations and recommendations. Emotions are running high. Remind yourself and your staff to be patient with clients. You may want to hold off replying to negative emails and voicemails for several hours so that a client has time to calm down and you have time to prepare your side of the conversation in a thoughtful and composed manner. And never underestimate the power of a personal touch. A personal phone call or email to check in on a client may be just what they needed to hear from you.
Communicating with your clients and leading with grace can make all the difference in turning your people into the most prominent champions of your business. If done well, your communications can lift up your business long before the crisis is over, keeping your clients engaged, encouraged, and ready for more of what you have to offer.