Keeping Your Customers Up-to-Date

Normally, I talk about utilizing plenty of “evergreen” content to populate your business blog from week to week. However, times have changed and you will want to use your blog to keep your customers updated on what’s happening with your company during these unusual times.

Mixed Messages

A good blog will always be a healthy mix of news, current events, company updates, client engagement and, yes, some evergreen informational content. These days, the balance is shifting more toward the news and current events related to COVID-19 and how it is affecting your business.

Pretty much every business in the world is being affected by the coronavirus in some ways. In most cases, it has been a huge disruption—physically, emotionally and financially. Even as the economies start to open back up in the summer months of 2020, we’re still far from out of the woods. There is still so much we don’t know about what will happen the rest of this year—and beyond.

Time to Adapt

No matter what, any business that is reopening or any essential business that has been able to stay open this entire time is having to change a lot about how they operate. Face masks, social distancing, limited customers in a given space, non-essential goods that aren’t selling, services that can’t be provided, etc.—it’s going to be a major adjustment period for all businesses and their customers. Nothing will be normal anytime soon.

This is a great opportunity to use your blog, your social media and your other marketing resources. A lot of us have been watching more television than normal and I’m sure you’ve noticed the obvious tonal changes in commercials. Advertisers are changing their messages because they have to adapt to a changing culture—even if it’s just a temporary shift until this all blows over.

Refining Your Current Marketing Message

What is your business doing to protect its customers and staff? What new products and services are you offering during this time? How are your services being forced to change? Let your customers know through your marketing resources. Keep them up-to-date, educated and informed. People want helpful information right now and they want to feel safe and assured. Keeping them updated and providing helpful information will keep them engaged and help you build more brand loyalty. Your business may not be doing as well for awhile, but you can build equity over time by building trust with your customers.

Nothing is going to be easy about running a business in the COVID-19 economy, but it’s the reality we are all facing for the foreseeable future. You must adapt. You must change your marketing message. The good news is your blog, social media and other content will be a great way to communicate what’s happening with your business and relate it to issues that your customers care about most.

 

 

What Should You Be Blogging About During COVID-19?

Small businesses that are remaining open during the COVID-19 pandemic should still be blogging among other marketing activities. It is very important to keep your customers informed of what’s going on. Let them know you are still open and doing business, even if things aren’t exactly normal for the time being.

What if My Business Had to Close Temporarily?

Businesses that have been forced to temporarily close can also be blogging. You may consider cutting back on the frequency if budget is a concern. Some business owners are actually blogging more than ever right now because they have extra time to get involved. It’s still worthwhile to be putting quality content out there. You can let your customers know why you had to close, keep your employees up-to-date on future plans, provide helpful health and safety information for your community (whether it is related to your business or not), or just keep producing “evergreen” searchable content that will continue to help with your site’s organic SEO. Even though there’s no business right now, you are still building your web presence for when you ultimately are able to reopen.

What Should We Write About?

So, what should you be writing about right now? That is a good question to ask because there are different ways you can choose to approach it.

I can say that ignoring the elephant in the room (coronavirus) is probably a mistake. It’s literally the most important thing in the world right now. It’s a good idea to keep your customers, business partners and employees informed through this difficult time. Don’t be afraid to address how COVID-19 is affecting your business and what you are doing to deal with the challenges it presents (financially, physically and emotionally). This content will be very relatable and genuine, which can go a long way in helping build brand loyalty over time.

Stay Positive

Though you can get real in your blog posts, you still want to try staying focused on the positives. That may be hard to do, but it’s important not to add to the doom, gloom and panic already out there in the news. Talk about what’s going on and provide information, tips and resources to help others get through the situation. Of course, people will be coming to your website for insight on topics relating to your products and services. That should drive most of your content. Still, you can also just provide more general news, updates and information about what’s happening in your local community as it relates to COVID-19 “shelter in place” orders, social distancing, medical resources, etc. Don’t be afraid to provide something of value beyond just talking about your business.

At the same time, it’s still okay to weave in some more evergreen content that will have long-term SEO appeal. Coronavirus is the hot topic right now and will likely be for the next few months, but eventually (hopefully) it won’t be as relevant. Evergreen topics and information will always be relevant and will have value in the long run, even if it’s not as important while all this craziness is going on.

What Happens Next?

Nobody knows exactly what our future has in store. Coronavirus is likely to change how some businesses operate forever, while others will be able to quickly get back to normal (or at least a “new normal”) once the virus is contained and/or cured. For now, hang in there and stay safe. Keep your blog content flowing, but really think about what you what topics will have the most value (both short-term and long-term) to find the right overall balance of information to put out there.

Hopefully you find this blog helpful. If there is anything else you want to talk about when it comes to how to approach your blog during this unusual situation, contact NextGear Marketing today for a free initial content consultation.

Marketing Activities During a Slow Period

Well, we’re on a “stay at home” lockdown here in California. At least that’s the theory, but it sure seems like many people and businesses are still doing what they want to do until the restrictions get clearer and tougher.

I guess it’s a pretty good time to be someone who works from home. However, as my clients are affected by coronavirus concerns, so will my business. Right now, it’s survival mode for many small businesses as we all hope things get back to “normal” sooner than later.

The good news is there are some things you can do on a marketing front amidst this craziness—and many of these marketing activities are good ideas during any slow period in your business. Perhaps you are in a seasonal market or you just naturally have ups and downs throughout the year.

Here are a few things you can be doing:

Developing, Reviewing and Revising Your Marketing Plan

When things slow down, it’s a good time to take a deeper look at your business. From a marketing perspective, you can use this time to develop a marketing plan if you didn’t have one laid out before. Or, if you do have one in motion, you can use a slow period to review and revise it. This way, you are better positioned when business picks back up.

Work on Your Website

Now is definitely an opportune time to work on your website. I have multiple clients who just happen to be in the midst of developing new sites, so the timing kind of works out to focus on that, get it launched and start populating it with good SEO content. Or, you can take this time to go through your website and make much-needed updates.

Keep Your Blog Going

This can be hard to do with so many distractions going on, but it is still good content that will continue to help your organic SEO appeal. You have the choice if you want to write about more current events and topics that are relevant right now. Or, you can keep writing “evergreen” content that will be searchable no matter what’s happening in the market. With the coronavirus, it’s probably a good idea to address it in at least one blog post (how it may be affecting your business and your clients, safety precautions being taken, etc.). You may shift directions temporarily and then get back to normal posts. How you mix them up is ultimately up to you.

Stay Engaged with Customers

Keep your customers engaged and updated through social media, your blog, letters, emails and phone calls. Let them know what’s happening with your business and assure them that you are there to help in whatever ways possible. People are filled with anxiety right now, so providing a calming or reassuring presence will really help build your value in their mind.

Look for Ways to Be Proactive and Productive

If you are quarantined at home or business is slow, use the time to find productive activities that will help you. It’s better to be proactive than sit around bored and depressed during times like this.

I think we’re all a little lost and confused right now, but we’ll all get through this together and hopefully come out the other side with a better appreciation for the good things in our lives and businesses.

 

Blog Strategy: Mixing Your Messages

When it comes to branding and your overall brand message, I believe consistency is very important. You want to maintain a certain tone that reflects your brand in every piece of marketing that you put out there.

Consistency with Variety

However, when it comes to your business blog, I feel it’s a good idea to mix up your messages in terms of the types of articles you produce and the topics that you cover. So, there should be a common tone throughout your posts, but it’s a great idea to vary what types of posts you are making.

Here’s an example. I have one client who is very partial to repurposing news articles related to their industry. It is fine, and it’s what they want to do. The content is very searchable and relevant to current events. At the same time, the articles can get dated. When that “news” is no longer new, then the post won’t have a ton of shelf life. I do my best to encourage this client to work in some “evergreen” topics from time to time. These are more information-based and will stay relevant for a much longer time.

Then, I have other clients who prefer more general content and there isn’t a whole lot of personality in the posts. They don’t want to talk about current news or inject an opinion. We always work in key brand messaging elements and SEO keywords, but again the overall blog loses a little something because all the posts have a similar feel. I do my best to mix things up when I can, but there’s only so much you can do when clients set certain parameters.

It’s Okay to Try Different Approaches

What I always try to recommend to my clients and anyone out there running a business blog—whether they choose to follow my advice or not—is to use a variety of topics, approaches and article styles. One week you might have a case study or customer testimonial story. The next week might be a current news article relating to your geographic market or industry. You could mix in employee profiles, tips, general information, product and service features, and more. This point is to do something a little different from week to week. This will keep the blog more engaging and also give you a wider reach in terms of SEO potential.

Now, you may end up with a rotation of article styles. This works well and you can create series where you revisit certain topic themes or use a similar approach that applies to multiple articles over the life of your blog.

Study the Results

Mixing up your blog approach is also great for testing the campaign results. Over time, you can see which types of posts draw the most site visitors or clickthroughs on social media. As the blog goes on, you can still keep a variety going. Just do less of the articles that aren’t working as well and more of the ones that are generating the most interest.

Your business blog should be ever-evolving. Have fun with it, so it is entertaining, engaging, information and unique to your brand identity.

For help building a successful business blog campaign, contact NextGear Marketing. I’d be happy to show you my approach and how it can make a difference as part of your company’s marketing system.

How to Be Proactive, Not Reactive

I have numerous clients that I am working with regularly. Many fall into one of two broad categories. They are either proactive or reactive in nature, and it definitely affects my role as a marketing consultant and content provider.

Proactive vs. Reactive

Proactive means they are always on top of things and ahead of the game. They like to explore new ideas and think things through, which helps make sure we’re on the same page before working on various projects. It provides more time to strategize and develop materials.

Then, there are those who are reactive. This means they typically don’t know what they want until they need it. It’s a lot more frantic because projects end up getting rushed and the results are much less predictable.

I bet you can guess which type of client I prefer working with! Truth be told, many clients fall somewhere on a spectrum in between proactive and reactive, which is perfectly normal. Sometimes you need to rush a project that comes up suddenly. Other times, it’s nice to have plenty of time to work out the details in a more methodical fashion.

Proactive vs. Analytical

Really, this boils down to human nature. Some people are thinkers and planners, which isn’t always a good thing. Sometimes it’s easy to overanalyze things to death. “Paralysis by analysis,” if you will. Other people are procrastinators and like to fly by the seat of their pants. This way of life brings its own challenge. I talk a lot about finding balance on the NextGear Marketing Blog, and this is another instance where it helps to fall somewhere in the middle. That said, my goal is usually to try and get clients to skew more toward the proactive side of the spectrum.

It’s almost always beneficial to look before you leap or follow the carpenter’s rule of “measure twice, cut once.” However, if you stand there staring at your goal without ever taking any real action, you won’t get anywhere either. That’s why I prefer using the term “proactive” rather than “analytical.” It’s important to think about what you are doing, but still have to be willing to take positive and decisive action to achieve your goals.

Where Do You Fall?

Are you more proactive or reactive when it comes to running your business and implementing marketing strategies? Is there room for improvement? How can we help you reach your goals?

NextGear Marketing is here to help with your marketing needs, from graphic design and copywriting to blogging and web content services. Contact us today for more information.

Sealing the Deal

I’ve been very busy lately working to sign on new clients and keep growing my business. It’s never easy, but the effort must be made to keep progressing.

As good as I am at marketing, my sales skills could use some refinement. I tend to like letting my work speak for itself. I like to provide information and education to help my clients make decisions on how they want to proceed. Sometimes, however, it takes a more aggressive “closer” mentality to get a contract locked in.

This is something a lot of small businesses and contractors struggle with. You could have the best marketing plan in the world that attracts a lot of attention for your business or generates plenty of good leads. Then, it’s a matter of sealing the deal.

In addition to great marketing, you need a good sales presentation, quality products/services and follow-up system to really keep expanding your business the right way.

Sales

It’s nice to be able to get people in the door, but it’s no good if you can’t get them to buy anything. Some people are naturally great at sales, but not so good at marketing. Then, there are people like me who are better at marketing than sales. Ultimately, you need to have both areas covered to be truly successful. You need to attract them to your brand and your business offerings. Then you need them to actually purchase something, whether it’s a service contract or physical products.

Product and Services

Next, you need good products and/or customer service. Your marketing and sales efforts might get someone to buy something. Unfortunately, if what they buy is less than satisfactory, it will lead to failure in the long run. They might write negative reviews or never buy your products again. When it comes to customer service, you want to provide a quality experience that builds trust and positive feelings. This can lead to repeat customers and positive word-of-mouth that will go a long way in building your business.

Follow-Up System

Last but not least, you need a good follow-up system to stay in touch with current and past customers. The idea is to stay in front of them and continue a positive relationship. This way they don’t forget about your business. Most importantly, it can generate more repeat customers and more referral business. Never be afraid to ask for referrals. Most small businesses depend on repeat and referral customers. A good follow-up system and messaging will make a huge difference on this front.

This is a pretty simplified view of this concept, but the point is what starts with good marketing needs to continue with the sales, products, services and follow-up that you provide. When all these elements are working together, you can build a better small business and keep achieving growth year after year.

For help with your marketing and follow-up systems such as email campaigns, direct mail and social media strategies, contact NextGear Marketing today.

Attitude is Everything

I’ve talked some about my passion for golf on this blog, but I haven’t really talked about one of my other passions: disc golf. Though they share a name and some similar rules/terminology, these are actually two pretty different sports. They are equally fun and frustrating at the same time, though.

I’ve been playing regular golf my whole life. Disc golf is a more recent obsession I’ve taken up in the past few years. It’s more affordable to play, there’s a quicker learning curve and it provides a great form of exercise—not to mention the camaraderie of playing with friends and the relaxation of spending quality time outdoors. There is a huge disc golf culture that most people aren’t even aware of, which means there are a lot of competitive events.

Between weekly clubs at different local courses, monthly tournaments and bigger annual tournaments, you can probably play some competitive form of disc golf just about 365 days a year here in Southern California. This year, I have been playing in more big tournaments. I still participate in the lower “recreational” or “intermediate” amateur divisions, but it is good experience.

I used to get frustrated and angry when I didn’t play well, especially in competitive settings. This year, though, I’ve really been working on my attitude while out on the course. I have to remind myself I’m not playing for the world championship, and at its core, disc golf is meant to be a fun sport. I don’t need to take myself too seriously or beat myself up when I make mistakes.

As I’ve adopted a more positive attitude. A lot of this comes from playing in my local weekly league out here in Palm Desert. It’s a really fun group of people and everyone encourages one another to play well. I’ve been able to apply some of this positive energy when I play in bigger tournaments. Though I have yet to win anything significant, I see the progress happening as I finish higher and higher in each event.

Having the right attitude is part of disc golf, as it should be for any sport or activity you participate in. I’ve been working personally on having a better attitude with my business and that has enabled me to keep it growing throughout the year. I still have plenty of growth ahead of me, but it’s important to recognize progress and keep focusing on the positive.

I share my little disc golf story to hopefully encourage anyone reading this blog to stay positive. This is a mindset that will benefit you in life and in business. As a small business owner, it’s easy to get down, frustrated, panicked, etc. and be swallowed up by the negative energy. It also helps to surround yourself with positive people.

For help with your small business marketing and web content, let NextGear Marketing point you in a positive direction. Contact me today to learn more about my affordable writing/design services and custom blog plans.