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How to Show Up For Your Audience During a Crisis

I don’t know about you, but the past few weeks have left me questioning everything.  Everything I know about myself, everything I know about my business, everything I know about the world in general.  There are hours when I feel like I experience the entire spectrum of human emotion in a mere sixty minutes.  From gratitude to boredom, anxiety to hope, fear to amusement, creativity to frustration, anger to acceptance.

As business owners, this time has been particularly challenging to navigate.  Not only are we juggling all the personal stresses, but we’re juggling the professional ones as well.  We’re trying to keep our businesses afloat on top of our households.  We’re worried about the health and well-being of our employees (if you have them) as well as our families.  We’re concerned about how our companies are going to weather this storm and also concerned for our communities.  We’re trying to show up and stay connected to our customers as well as to the friends and family we’re now being kept apart from.

It’s a lot to process and adjust to, friends.  There is so much that we’re not in control of.

But the one thing you are in complete control of right now?  Your response.  You are 100% in control of how you, as a brand, respond to this and show up.  I’m not trying to downplay the seriousness of this crisis or how challenging these times are.  If this is keeping you up at night, I am right there with you.  But as a business owner, one of the most important things you can do for your business right now is make sure you are still showing up for your audience.

So maybe you’re wondering how you do that.  Maybe your business is closed until further notice or your product or service just doesn’t seem to be on people’s radars right now.  Showing up for your audience can be tricky in the midst of a crisis.  Everything you knew about them before goes right out the window, from their values and beliefs to their habits and consumer journey.  But rest assured there are ways for you to be there for your audience and make a difference, even in small ways.  And if you set aside some time to really think about it and do some good old fashioned brainstorming, I know you can come up with some awesome ideas. 

I’ve put together a short digital workbook (linked below) with additional prompts and ideas to help you break it down. 🙂

recommit to your brand mission, values, and beliefs

Now more than ever, you need to be doubling down on who you are as a brand because that is who your audience has come to know, love, and trust.  And in times of uncertainty, people need things they can depend on.  Make sure your brand is one of those things.  You might need to pivot a bit in how you live into your brand ethos, but your response, whatever it may be, needs to first and foremost be authentic to the identity you’ve established.

reevaluate your target audience

Who your audience is on the surface will likely not change.  If your audience is new moms, or fitness enthusiasts, or foodies, they should still be your primary focus.  But who they are as people has likely seen a dramatic shift in the past few weeks.  Their needs, desires, fears, and dreams have changed.  Their mindset has changed.  Their habits have changed.  And as a result, how they think about and interact with your brand or your industry at large has changed as well, and likely in ways that they weren’t prepared for or anticipating.  As a result, you’re going to need to adjust right alongside them.

Take some time to put yourself in their shoes.  Get into their head space.  Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How have their habits changed?  Think about this generally, as well as through the lens of your business.
  • What are they needing from businesses like yours?  How can you give this to them?
  • What new barriers are they facing right now?  How can you address these?
  • How have their physical and emotional needs changed?  What can you do to bring them support?
  • What is keeping them up at night these days?  Is there anything you can do to help, even in small ways?

rethink your strategy

Now bring it all together and do some good old fashioned brainstorming.  Think outside of the box.  Get a piece of paper or a white board and write down everything that comes to your mind, even if it seems dumb or infeasible.  Write it down.  If you’re sitting there right now and your business is one that is currently closed and you think there’s nothing you can do right now for your customers, I urge you to think again.  Get creative.  There is always something you can do.  There is always a way you can show up.

Maybe you’re a hair stylist who can’t take clients right now.  What about offering beauty tips, mask recipes, style trends, etc. on your social feeds?  What about sending free samples of products to preferred clients?  Or teaching classes over Facebook Live or IGTV on how to do popular styling techniques?

Or maybe you’re a wedding photographer and your brand mission is to document true love so it can bring people joy for generations to come, but you can’t currently photograph new clients.  Can you resurrect the love stories of past clients and retell them on social?  Can you do a “where are they now” series where you interview past couples about what married life has been like for them?  It’s still a way to capture true love, just in a COVID friendly way.

If you want to take it a step further, break your strategy down into retention tactics (things you’ll do for your current clients) and prospecting tactics (things you’ll do to grow your audience now so you potentially have a new pool of clients later) and have a few ideas for each.

reassurance and positivity are key

Everyone is in the same boat right now.  Everyone is adjusting to a new normal and uncertain about the future.  There is value in providing reassurance.  And that’s not just providing the reassurance that everything will be okay, or that their feelings are valid, or that we’re all in it together – which are all GREAT things to do.  But it’s also in reassuring people that your business is still there to serve them, even if it looks a little different than it has before.

I truly believe showing up right now is so, so important, friends, and could be the ticket to coming out on the other side of this stronger than ever.  When times get tough, dependability, authenticity, and creativity matter so much more.  They keep people going, keep them pushing forward, and give them hope.  Business may be down and your bottom line may be hurting and you may be totally at a loss as to what to do next.

My advice?  Keep showing up.  Keep putting one foot in front of the other.  Keep being you.  Seasons change.  This one will too.

Want to download the workbook?  Just click on the photo below to download, no email required.

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I’m Morgan, the dreamer and designer behind Atlas + Anchor.  I help small businesses and solopreneurs build better brands that help them stand out from the crowd.

 

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