Should you continue to sell in times of crisis?

Seller is offering, selling potted flowers at outdoor flea market protected against virus COVID-19, Corona.

Everyone seems to have an opinion about whether you should sell and or market your business in a time of crisis. I am here to let you know that absolutely you should be marketing and selling. Crisis or no crisis, now is not the time to drop the exact thing that is going to keep your business afloat.

The only thing that is going to keep your business open, is if you have customers or clients. Without this, cashflow dries up and you end up as a statistic in the graveyard of businesses that were once great.

You need to keep marketing. You need to keep selling. And you need to be smart about how that happens. Follow these five steps so you can get it right, and keep the doors open.

1. Be sensitive but pragmatic

It’s important in times of crisis for business owners to be sensitive but also pragmatic while they’re still marketing and selling. We saw this happen when the bushfires hit Australia in early 2020. We’ve seen it through the COVID-19 crisis. We’ll continue to see it again. It’s important to let people know that you’re feeling that things are hard. That you empathise with their plight.

You also have the fiscal obligation to look after your financial status. This means you have to keep selling! Be sensitive, but also make the right financial decisions for your business. Your livelihood depends on it.

2. Split your content between regular content and crisis specific content

I recommend a 70/30 marketing content split. Make 70 per cent of your marketing content “business as usual” content. Keep adding value, keep sharing your advice, hints and tips the way you would normally. Make 30 per cent of your content specific to the crisis.

Make the 30 per cent relevant to what’s happening at the moment and the 70 per cent will be the foundations that see you through.

3. Be available and track what’s happening on social media

You’re going to need to spend a bit more time than usual online. You need fuel for the 30 per cent segment of your content, so it’s important that you know what’s going on in the crisis. It’s also necessary for you to be aware of it’s relevance to your industry.

Additionally, you need to be on top of any interaction within your posts. Respond personally, even if it’s adding your name at the end if you have a formal company name. This helps your audience realise that there is someone behind the brand interacting with them. It helps them to feel safe and heard.

4. Adapt/change/pivot in need

If your products and services aren’t selling quite like they used to, then perhaps it’s time to adapt/change or pivot your offers. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater, though! Sometimes a slight tweak in your messaging, your posts can make all the difference.

5. Be consistent

Humans need something solid that they can grab onto in times of crisis. We are all wired to have our need for certainty met. Usually, we’d get this from routines, heading to work, going and grabbing a coffee with our co-workers through the day. Most of these have been stripped away from us for the time being – your audience included.

Be the business that shows up consistently. Ideally at the same times every day. Put up a daily or even weekly video sharing a bit about what is happening behind the scenes. I recommend championing some of the team to do videos. Video is the best way to reach your audience right now.

Nicola Moras, social media and visibility expert and author of “Visible”, a guide for business owners on how to generate financial results from social media and digital marketing