History has taught us that while crises come and go, they do not last forever. Knowing there will always be something new on the horizon, practitioners should focus their marketing and brand communications on multiple fronts. First on the now. The ways your firm interacts with and assists clients as they find their stride during and after a crisis will have a lasting impact long after it has passed. Second on the future. If your firm concentrates solely on what is happening in the near term, you will miss the opportunity to help your clients prepare for what is on the horizon.
Your marketing and brand communications can play an essential role in your client’s journey as they look to find new paths forward. Let’s take a closer look at key considerations, new findings and best practices that you can use right away in your firm as you navigate both fronts.
As with any transformational event, it is first essential to help your clients take control of the current situation. Not sure where to begin? Look to these findings from the recent Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report: Brand Trust in 2020 to set the tone for your firm’s strategies and actions.
Solve, don’t sell
Brands should focus on finding appropriate solutions to problems that people currently face.
Show that you care
Communicate with emotion, compassion and facts. Use empathy to inform and calm. Reassure with positive brand actions and commitments.
Communicate how you are helping
Brands have a vital role to play. Show up, do your part and use your resources and creativity to make a difference.
Bring people together
Don’t act alone. There is strength in collaboration.
Be mindful that your clients want to hear from you but in a way that is comforting, reassuring and offers specific solutions your firm can provide. While trust has always been important, it should now be at the center of your firm’s core message.
Rethink your firm’s brand communications
How do you incorporate new needs and preferences into your firm’s marketing and brand communications? Focus on five central areas in your practice.
Look at your brand communications through a new lens
Transformational times call for a reboot. Your clients and target audience have experienced a great deal both personally and professionally and as a result have new priorities. While some have achieved record growth, others struggle to keep the doors open. Make sure your communications are relevant to them and their needs. Carefully consider how and where you will gain the proper attention and trust of your audience.
How will you adapt your communications to new preferences?
What are you doing to make sure your messages are relevant?
Do your current communications gain the attention and trust of your audience
Consider your messages
The messages from your firm are essential to building trust with clients which goes for the ways in which you convey them too. What resonated in the past is not necessarily what will be meaningful now. Get clear on what you want to say and how you will say it. Perhaps consider someone as a spokesperson for the firm. Industry and technical experts, peers, founders and brand employees (or your firm’s designated spokesperson) often garner the greatest trust these days according to Edelman.
What central messages do you want your clients to take away from your communications?
What tone will you use to convey these messages? How will this differ from past communications?
Who will you rely on to deliver these messages?
Be a voice of reason
While we do not have all the answers in our practices, it is important to be present and actively involved when so many are looking for insight. Position your firm as a voice of reason to businesses and their owners searching for a clear way forward. Provide information, solutions and hope. Focus on key areas of interest to them. Include these themes in your communications, website, blog, social media, print and digital media. Set up an online resource center focused on current hot topics. Host webinars and podcasts. Write solutions focused articles for your firm’s blog and newsletters. Reach out to community organizations, industry trade groups and business associations to offer your resources for their websites, newsletters and blogs.
Do your messages provide information, solutions and hope?
Do your communications highlight new perspectives and new ways forward?
Are you focused on topics of interest to your clients and target audience?
Match client needs to solutions
Business leaders are in search of solutions. Your firm should focus its brand communications on your clients’ most pressing needs. Include insight into what you and your colleagues are doing to address and resolve their needs and help them achieve their top priorities. One sound approach is to reimagine client solutions based on their current operational state. Organizations experiencing hyper growth, for example, may want your help with growth management, business modeling, restructuring, data analytics, supply chain and ecommerce. Businesses on a normal growth trajectory will look for services such as client advisory services (CAS), returning to work and reopening, cash management, mergers and acquisitions, cloud computing, fraud and data security. Businesses working to keep the doors open will look for help with relief programs, business interruption and bankruptcy assistance. Showcase how you are bringing clients together and creating opportunities for collaboration through your online communities, virtual business roundtables and regular podcasts.
Do your communications address topics that align with your clients’ current needs?
Do you highlight the primary solutions that your firm provides to address those needs
Does your firm communicate its solutions in terms of the state of a client’s operations?
What solutions does your firm offer to clients in hyper growth?
How does your firm help clients in normal growth mode?
How does your firm assist clients looking to survive?
Tell authentic brand stories
One of the most effective ways that you can bring your firm’s brand to life is through real life stories. These narratives allow others to understand that a solution may be available to them when they learn how your team helps other businesses with similar challenges. Brand stories can also demonstrate how your firm brings new perspectives to your clients as they search for solutions. Make sure these stories are sincere and authentic versus humorous and too lighthearted to portray the situation and obviously don’t include sensitive information.
What success stories do you want to tell?
What stories best highlight key solutions to current challenges?
Who would you like to feature?
Resilient firms understand the importance of looking forward with their clients before the horizon has cleared. Make it a priority to help those you serve think about and plan for what’s next. This future focused mindset is critical to the ongoing success of their business and yours. Consider these three key areas as you and your colleagues plan strategies and content for your brand communications.
Focus on gaps and new opportunities
During transitional periods, situations arise bringing to light new gaps and opportunities to fill them. Explore these opportunities with your clients to bring viable ideas to life. A good way to initiate the process is through your firm’s brand communications. Write articles and create podcasts that describe and outline necessary steps. Focus on practical advice to help clients consider, explore and weigh the value of recently discovered opportunities. Offer tips and tricks to guide them in developing selected ideas for their businesses. Share stories of how your firm has helped businesses turn opportunities into new services. The same goes for new procedures that resulted in improved processes and cost savings. Reference these communications when you conduct regular client check-in calls. Suggest a meeting to discuss opportunities in greater detail.
How do you engage with clients on new opportunities they are exploring?
What client success stories can you share in your brand communications?
Do you speak with clients about their experiences in your firm’s podcasts, newsletters and blog posts?
Reignite dreams and ambitions
Encourage clients to reengage their ambitions for their businesses. Include messages in your firm’s communications that inspire them to revisit plans they put on hold. Follow a process like the identification of gaps and new opportunities described above. Develop articles, blog posts, podcasts and webinars on the subject. Provide positive how-to advice and tips to help them get started. These also make good conversation starters during client check-ins.
How is your firm encouraging its clients to revisit dreams for their business?
How are you engaging with clients to discuss their ambitions for the business?
How will you incorporate these messages into your brand communications?
Monitor trends and preferences
Crises change how we live and how we do business. Consider the impact of one of the most prolific and rapid shifts in the digital space that occurred due to the COVID-19 lockdown. From where and how we work, get our news, communicate with clients and colleagues, learn, network and make purchasing decisions, sudden shifts quickly became a reality. As we look to the future, it will be important for practitioners to regularly be on the lookout for new and emerging trends and client preferences. Talk about these on social media channels to gain greater insight. Use your findings to keep your messages current and relevant as you interact with clients.
How does your firm track trends and preferences?
How do you use social media platforms to explore these trends?
How do you incorporate new preferences into your brand communications?
Firms that earn client trust during these transformational times and beyond are the ones able to help clients navigate the now while looking to the future. Your firm’s communications play an important role in this journey by sharing key messages that can serve as a springboard for new ideas, conversations and actions. Along the way, your messages will reinforce initiatives of the firm’s practitioners, offering empathy and understanding combined with support, new perspectives and hope for new ways forward.