Effective communication - breaking through the clutter during a pandemic, with
These are unprecedented times. Uncertain times.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect all of us - from the way we work, to how we function as families and communities.
On top of it, news reports across the country are screaming, “Australia is officially in recession for the first time in 30 years”.
Tough times indeed.
However, the thing about a “tough time” is that while it impacts us all at our very core, it also brings out the best in people.
From healthcare workers and supermarket staff to office workers and trades services professionals, there are countless examples of the indomitable human spirit, right here in Australia.
While some leaders have taken a step back, sending their organisations spiraling backwards, with terrible service delivery, and even worse communication, others have risen to the occasion. The latter have shown empathy, care and compassion, through their words, backed by action. Sometimes, these messages, from the heart, inspire. They help us see the silver lining.
Brand and culture transformation expert Martin Lindstrom says in his article, “Your ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ opportunity”, “Leadership, in my opinion, is all about visibility and in these times… encouragement”.
We can achieve this through effective communication.
Here are my 4 tips to effective communication to break through the clutter during times of pandemic, using my CARE model:
Your audience’s capacity to process information is limited during uncertain times. Carefully crafted messages with authenticity and empathy, assuring them that your priorities are realigned are crucial.
However, it’s not about doing it once and ticking it off your list.
You must repeat, repeat, and repeat.
Consistency breeds familiarity and trust.
With employees, it is imperative that they are “in the know” all times. This makes it easier to communicate cohesively to the outside world. To help put their minds at ease, at i4Tradies, we:
Communicate up-to-date information via internal emails and virtual meetings.
Touch base with the whole team a minimum of once every two days - we do this with Video Conference meetings where we check on everyone, have a laugh, and finally, get down to business.
Customers, on the other hand, do not have access to the internal workings of our business. So, we leverage email and social media.
Other examples of this are Target and Woolworths who reached out to their customers through email and social media, communicating how they enhanced cleaning procedures, stock management and staff availability to best serve them.
JetBlue became the first airline to waive and cancel fees to support customers. They also backed their service with substantial safety procedures and training for their employees.
Instead of being salesy, show your human side. Connect with your audience using platforms like Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn and show people who you are. The real you. Don’t be afraid to take them “behind the scenes”, giving them a glimpse of how you’re coping with similar situations.
My wife captured this picture last weekend as I was working on our garden patch, dirt and all.
I was reluctant to post it. But, here it is.
What prompted me to post it was it took me out of my comfort zone.
For you, it’s Logan in his garden.
For me, it’s a simple picture that communicates, “While I’m stuck indoors at home in Victoria,
I’m taking you “behind the scenes”, being authentic. Being myself. Not in a suit or smart casuals which is customary in my line of work, but in a muddy tracksuit and jumper.
Instead of my laptop or iPad, I’m working with garden tools. And, I’m loving it!
At the beginning of 2020, we may have had plans for launching products, marketing campaigns etc. However, now is the time to review your situation and show how your priority has shifted from the business to your employees and customers.
Let our audience know what measures we are taking to help the community.
Focus on communications that will help unite the community and pave way for cumulative growth.
However, during the pandemic, as consumers were reluctant to outsource work to tradies, and tradies saw their revenues decline with job shortages, we went back to the drawing board to see how we can help the community.
With ERC, all consumers have to do is text in their details and our dedicated support team matches them with suitable, certified trades services professionals nearby. While making it easier for consumers to access these professionals via SMS, this helped trades businesses generate leads, thus creating more work.
“The whole goal of ERC is to help tradies win business opportunities in their localities through the pandemic. As consumers were presented with a new, innovative way of getting their work taken care of, it opened the floodgates for trades services professionals to keep doing what they do best”, says Sachi Wickramage, Co-founder and COO of i4Tradies.
To rethink priorities, we keeping asking:
Collate information from your employees so that everyone has a clear understanding of what’s going on and what challenges you’re facing.
This not only helps prioritise your strategies, but also become empathetic towards your stakeholders as opposed to looking for selling opportunities.
But, not easy.
Take the time to check in with your employees and customers. Open up your social channels to facilitate 2-way conversations. Take your time with small-talk.
Any company is only as resilient as its people. So, we try to ensure our communication is aimed at easing anxiety and burn-out. It’s only when our people are happy and feeling good that we can communicate in a humane manner to customers.
When communicating with customers, we strive to avoid corporate-speak and jargon. Show, rather than tell, that you are in this with them. When done consistently, they will begin to trust you.
One of my favourite leaders who communicates with empathy is the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern. From her prompt and heartfelt reaction to the Christchurch shootings, to the more recent resurgence of the COVID situation in the country, while expressing compassion, she has also communicated her pride in her country for how they, as a nation, managed the situation. Plus, she leaves little to no room for guesswork or inaccuracies.
CARE is never more important than during uncertain times such as a pandemic.
Be consistent in your communications, remain authentic (vulnerabilities and all), review your priorities and be empathetic. You will not only earn your audience’s trust and loyalty, but you will also inspire them.
Yes, it may be hard (at first). It may require you to be transparent. But, the stories you tell will connect with them.
These stories will break through the clutter.
They will shine through the myriad of “buy from me” messages a lot of businesses are putting out.
Keep in mind, people will not remember your advertising campaigns.
But, they will remember how you connected with them, and made them feel.
They will remember how you CAREd.