How do you communicate with clients, prospects and suppliers during a crisis when there are business shutdowns and massive job losses. There has never been a more uncertain time. But one thing is for sure even if your business has shut down temporarily, you can’t put you head in the sand, now is the time to help your customers and prospects.
With this backdrop, in this episode Bec Derrington, a leading PR and Communications expert, from Source Bottle, discussed how business owners, marketing managers communicate better in this crisis.
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If you want more information from the podcast check out the transcript below.
Hi, and welcome to today’s Marketing Strategy Show. My name’s Kym Heffernan and I’m the host of the show. Normally in our episodes, we’re focusing on marketing strategy to help businesses improve their marketing, improve their sales, and grow their business. But these are different times. We’re in the midst of a COVID-19 crisis. We’ve got businesses shutting down who may never reopen again. We’ve got workers being laid off. The world seems in total chaos.
Kym Heffernan (00:30):
The world as we know it has been turned upside down. So amongst all that, how can you communicate with your clients so you don’t come across as salesy, but you come across as genuine, with information they want to hear? Now, originally this episode was going to be about public relations and PR, and we’ve invited a guest, a lady called Bec Derrington, who’s a PR expert.
Kym Heffernan (00:54):
Over the last 10 years, she’s been running an organisation called SourceBottle, which connects clients and PR experts together in one platform. She’s seen hundreds of messages go out to clients and she makes it her business to study them. Over the last few weeks, she’s been looking very critically at what people have been communicating to their clients about COVID-19. We decided today to turn this episode upside down, as well. We’re going to have a discussion about the sort of messages you should be communicating and how to communicate to your clients during this time period.
Kym Heffernan (01:31):
How to provide useful information, not to sell, these are times not for selling, even though the temptation is there, because revenue may be very likely to be way down. You have to be careful to be sensitive of the times. Your message must match the audience. But also, you can’t put your head in the sand. You can’t just ignore it and hope it will go away. It’s here and it’s going to be here to stay for a little while.
Kym Heffernan (01:58):
So how can you do that sensitively? What I’d like to do is ask Bec to join us now so we can have that discussion, and give you some key takeaways that you can use in your communications. Hi Bec. Are you there? Hello Bec.
Bec Derrington (02:12):
Kym Heffernan (02:14):
Thanks for joining us today. It’s rather a whole different world than when we first spoke about doing this podcast a few weeks ago. But before we actually get into that, can you just give people a little bit of background on Bec Derrington, where you’ve come from?
Bec Derrington (02:30):
Oh look, in a nutshell, my background is in PR, corporate communications, and marketing. And I have been working in this industry for 20 years. I did start out in professional services industry, looking at and supporting a lot of professional services firms in terms of business development, media relations, and corporate communications. And then when I had my family started, I of course wanted to scale back and have some work/life flexibility, and I did a lot of media relations for very small services oriented businesses and found that the media landscape was really fragmented.
Bec Derrington (03:18):
I just thought there had to be a better way. This is over 10 years ago now, so I started SourceBottle as a way of introducing or implementing or embracing I suppose that crowdsourcing culture which was just kind of starting at that time, and thinking as a collective of PRs and businesses alike, we can respond to journalists’ needs at the exact time they need it, and technology is a great enabler, of course, of making those sorts of things happen.
Bec Derrington (03:50):
I started SourceBottle with a dream to actually connect great story opportunities from journalists, with really great stories. Everyone was getting an opportunity. It’s kind of just levelled the playing field. You didn’t have a gatekeeper of a PR necessarily being the one who would connect you with a journalist with a story opportunity. All of a sudden everyone became able to tell their stories in this sort of time, this sort of fluid time of social media. Yeah, that’s how it started.
Kym Heffernan (04:22):
Bec, just a question. For people who aren’t, there shouldn’t be many of them, who aren’t familiar with SourceBottle, maybe you can explain … It’s S-O-U-R-C-E, SourceBottle. What SourceBottle’s all about?
Bec Derrington (04:33):
SourceBottle is, I mean, I hate to demystify it completely, because we all love to talk in the world of tech, but really it’s an email service. It’s an email distribution service. We email between 14-15 million emails a year. Each email just holds a whole heap of media opportunities for people. You get to, if you sign up to SourceBottle, it’s a free media lead service, you get to customise your emails so you’re only receiving media call outs that are relevant to you, and then you’ll open your drink up … We call them drink up alerts. You get up to two a day, depending on your tailoring of your emails.
Bec Derrington (05:22):
And each of them will open up opportunities for a journalist, for example, it might be a business publication looking for like today, innovative ways of making money in this time of COVID-19. At the moment, what it’s done is just … I liken it to the metaphor of going to a restaurant. In the past, journalists have always been inundated with press releases so they’re proactive, people are just throwing their stories at you in the hope that one of them, that spray and pray approach. One of them might hit.
Bec Derrington (05:58):
That’s like a journalist going into a restaurant and sitting at a table and the waiting staff just plonking a whole heap of dishes out in front of them, and crossing their fingers and hoping one of them, that you like one of them. It’s ridiculous. It’s ineffective, and it’s incredibly frustrating for a journalist.
Bec Derrington (06:16):
What I wanted to do was just remove all that clutter, so a journalist now has a menu where they can choose exactly what they want. That’s really what SourceBottle does. It’s the connection platform between storytellers and great stories.
Kym Heffernan (06:31):
Great. And it gives from a business viewpoint, it gives businesses the opportunity just having to go out and compile a list of God knows how many publications, reach out to those individually to find really specific opportunities to promote their business.
Bec Derrington (06:45):
Exactly. I break PR or media relations, PR, into two forms. Proactive and reactive. Proactive is when you actually have to go and peddle your story out to journalists or influencers of any sort of format, just trying to get your story told by them. Whereas what SourceBottle is, it’s reactive. You can just sit and every day you’re peppered with story opportunities that are relevant to you, that you can put your hand up as a subject matter expert to respond to. And then just get free publicity in the process. That’s how the service works.
Kym Heffernan (07:23):
Okay, perfect. Let’s jump in deep I guess into where we are at the moment. We’re in a real crisis in business in Australia, and worldwide, and society generally, I think. How can businesses, and we spoke a little about this before the message, how can businesses not be seen to be taking advantage of the situation, not trying to oversell, but be helpful for the clients and still keep in front of clients and show they care, I guess?
Bec Derrington (07:51):
Yeah. I’ve just seen, Kym, so many organisations just do this wrongly. I mean, I mentioned this to you earlier, I just … I feel like if a brand has someone who’s working in any crisis communications, which is what I really think this is, if you’re working in crisis communications, you’re telling the brand, your client, that, “Okay, now is the time to demonstrate true humanity, empathy, and understanding.” And I think what we’re seeing is a lot of either these advisors not giving good advice, not … Being a bit tone deaf, or you’re finding brands that are refusing to listen to their advice and plough ahead with business as usual, because they’re more worried about their sales targets, as opposed to really having an ear to what people are feeling and thinking.
Bec Derrington (09:01):
Because everyone is going to take a hit right now. Everybody is taking a hit right now, but maybe except the supermarkets, and Harvey Norman, as I’ll talk about that media disaster in a minute. But everyone’s taking a hit, and the ones that will surface out of this with the best kind of public sentiment will be the ones who demonstrated the human face of their organisation, that demonstrated that they really understood what everyone was going through, what their staff was going through, how this has a human toll in every sense of the word.
Bec Derrington (09:46):
Businesses that are inward facing, that are all of a sudden just thinking about, “Oh, my God, my business is suffering,” at the expense of understanding that everybody’s business is suffering, are really going to find their messaging land very hard in the ears of the public, and the public will not support them, and the public will have a long memory. Like, I’ve got lots of examples where I mean I was … Last week, there was this lead up to this launch, and this is a digital marketer that I really respect. I won’t name and shame, but I got … He and his team employ quite in your face, interruption style marketing techniques, to communicate.
Bec Derrington (10:36):
I think on the whole, they work with their audience, because they seem to be flourishing. Well, they were. Anyway, there was this suspense, drip feed email chain that was coming through, saying, “Oh look, we’re going to launch something.” This was last Tuesday. They were going to launch something. And on the Wednesday, or it might have been the Tuesday, the Wednesday, whatever, I got a text message. As I said, guerrilla style marketing, really in your face.
Bec Derrington (11:09):
And my appetite for that, or my tolerance levels for that are fairly high on the whole, because I understand as a marketer-
Kym Heffernan (11:17):
You work in marketing, right?
Bec Derrington (11:18):
… [crosstalk 00:11:18]. Exactly. So, I’m probably more tolerant than some other organisations for this style of marketing. But still, with what was going on in the air and the way that the mood was changing and how people were starting to recognise we’re in this for the long haul, it landed so badly. Like, it was so jarring and so confronting that I just immediately unsubscribed. And then I got a letter in the mail about it, and then I got another series of emails, and they were all self-serving, they were all inward focusing, and I just couldn’t believe that someone as savvy as that would make such a rookie error. It really is. Like, I just don’t understand how you can’t appreciate that sort of stuff, that sort of approach right now is inappropriate.
Kym Heffernan (12:12):
So where do you start? Where would you start with the messaging? I’ve got a group of clients I need to communicate something to, where do we start as businesses?
Bec Derrington (12:24):
Well, I mean, I’m putting together an article to do and with some experts that have responded. I put a call out on SourceBottle because I want to write a post on this myself about some good examples and some poor examples.
Kym Heffernan (12:38):
I’ll share that in the show notes, too, Bec. That’d be great if I can-
Bec Derrington (12:40):
Oh, great. Okay, yeah.
Kym Heffernan (12:41):
… give some link to that. Perfect, yeah.
Bec Derrington (12:43):
For sure. Thank you. Because there’s a lot of really … As I said, I haven’t written this and I’m just starting to get some of the responses now, but already I can see there’s some really savvy responses coming through. I think they’re all pretty much saying along the same lines, I mean, some of them are giving some examples of failed or missed opportunities, but they’re all saying again, it’s about demonstrating empathy, compassion and a human face, and also recognising that sometimes all you need to say, if you’re not someone who’s selling, like I mean I mentioned to you this morning I put out, in the drink up alert that I sent out, I just sent out a message.
Bec Derrington (13:21):
Mine’s a free service, there are value adds that you can upsell to, or that you can subscribe to, but the core service is free. The message that I had to communicate is that we’re still here. Things will continue, and I mean, I said to you, in this time of chaos and unknown, sometimes there’s comfort in knowing that some things just stay the same, and that’s what I wanted to communicate to my audience, to just say, “Okay, every day, you’re still going to receive this. Nothing’s going to change, so while in this stage where everything seems to be changing, we’re okay. We’re here.”
Bec Derrington (13:59):
I mean, I know I got … There was an example of a brokerage firm saying, “Hey listen, in the last three weeks when we saw this coming, we worked out how we’re going to work remotely and continue to offer the service that we offer to you.” If you are in a services industry, I think there’s a really important message about being comforting, and not stepping out of your wheelhouse. Like, if I started saying now, “Please wash your hands and do all these sort of COVID-19-
Kym Heffernan (14:32):
It doesn’t make sense, right?
Bec Derrington (14:35):
It’s ridiculous. And who am I? I’m not an authority. I think one of the biggest challenges actually, Kym, they’re seeing is, and I’ve been reading a lot of articles about this, about influencers and how right now they’re being incredibly reckless. You’ve got some wellness, like there was some, there’s an example and we can put this in the show notes too, if you want, The Daily Beast has an article they put out recently and it was talking about this influencer called Logan Paul.
Bec Derrington (15:05):
Now, he’s a YouTuber and I think he talks about a whole lot of different things, but his latest post, and I mean he has 17.4 million followers, but his latest post, and I’ll also tell you, at last viewing on Instagram, received over a million likes, is an image of him with four women around him in gas masks, him with no gas mask or lifted over his head, a woman making a sexually suggestive image down the bottom, and saying, “F the coronavirus.”
Bec Derrington (15:47):
I’m thinking, “Well, that’s just ridiculous.” Then you’ve got all these other wellness influencers who are saying, “Oh, this works for coronavirus, and do this. Buy my product” or, “Buy this product that I’m endorsing, and you’ll get through this.” Really reckless, really dangerous, and that sort of thing is where, I’m floored by not only the ignorance, but also the fact that that can be done. The fact that there’s no accountability for stuff like that.
Kym Heffernan (16:22):
I think it comes back, we discussed this a little bit before the call, it comes back to probably starting with [inaudible 00:16:26], doesn’t it? I loved your-
Bec Derrington (16:29):
Oh, spot on.
Kym Heffernan (16:29):
I loved your analysis if you like, if you’re thinking inwardly, it’s going to have the wrong message. If you’re thinking outwardly, probably not. If you’re thinking about, “Oh, my God, my sales down, I need to get some more clients and sell some more products,” yeah, it’s not going to work. I mean, the world as you said has basically pretty much stopped, and will stop for sometime, rightfully so. But how can you help your clients and other people? Whether it’s through information, whether it’s through services, or whatever. That to me is the starting point. What do you think?
Bec Derrington (17:01):
Oh, spot on. I think there’s a couple of different things. That whole inward/outward approach is a perfect demonstration of an organisation looking outward. Sorry, looking inward, is the NRL coming out recently with [inaudible 00:17:21] and coming out cap in hand and saying, “The government needs to bail us out.” I just cannot believe how tone deaf an organisation like that can be.
Bec Derrington (17:31):
Gerry Harvey talking on 60 Minutes saying, “We’re doing roaring trade.” I just don’t understand how someone who’s so savvy usually, could appear so … I mean, I understand editing, I understand all of that, but someone who could appear to be so tone deaf to how many people are really, really struggling. I tell you what else it’s really disturbing, and I will talk about free-
Kym Heffernan (17:58):
No, please, yeah.
Bec Derrington (18:01):
… actionable tactics. But I’m sort of finding, so examples for me of things where organisations should know better, are doing the wrong thing, I’m a big fan of Kogan. I think Ruslan Kogan has done an incredible job. At the moment, I’m receiving a whole heap of emails, sales emails. I think I bought something recently from Kogan and as a result, I’m now receiving a whole barrage, and that’s their aggressive marketing [inaudible 00:18:33] and sometimes that’s fine.
Bec Derrington (18:35):
At the moment, though, I’m seeing they’re pushing things like masks and hand sanitizers. I noticed one of the first things they started to sell was bidets which I thought was actually probably a stroke of genius, but in terms of replacing toilet paper.
Kym Heffernan (18:54):
The whole toilet paper thing, absolutely.
Bec Derrington (18:56):
But then so when I started receiving this, I thought, “Oh okay, that’s great.” But then I saw the prices, and they were clearly price gouging. Whether he was acting or whether the organization’s acting as a reseller, and I think in some of the instances they are, so they’re not actually necessarily responsible for those prices, it just, I was just appalled. Hand sanitizer, which 50 mills selling for outrageous prices. I just thought that just really, really irks me to the point where I don’t want to buy anything from them.
Bec Derrington (19:32):
Like, I just can’t believe that. To me, just seems to reckless and it’s continuing to promote this panic buying, this panic and people financially benefiting from people, this level of distress. Just awful. It really upsets me. Anyway. That’s my [crosstalk 00:19:57].
Kym Heffernan (19:58):
I think that’s a really good point you make there. As business owners, I mean, and people working in business, maybe we should be just thinking about the messages we’re receiving as consumers, not as business people now, and saying, “Which of those do you find offensive?” Like that one you just said. And learn from that. I mean, learn from others’ mistakes. Everyone’s getting a tonne of messages at the moment, right?
Bec Derrington (20:20):
Kym Heffernan (20:20):
So maybe the simple thing is to sit back and say, “This one actually wasn’t bad. This one, I really hated that because they’re just trying to sell me something.” Think about yourself as a consumer first, and that’s how your customers are going to see your messages, right?
Bec Derrington (20:34):
I totally agree, Kym. That’s how I’ve been making my way through the last couple of weeks, syphoning in and out, and wondering how this message is landing with me, or why I’m so enraged by something that I see. As I said, that upsets me, and when I dive a little deeper and try to understand why I’ve got that reaction, it’s exactly that. Watching people like the Gerry Harveys, people talking about how they’re financially benefiting from this terrible situation, this very dire crisis, and how that doesn’t seem responsible to me. It seems very cold and calculated, and-
Kym Heffernan (21:16):
There’s no empathy there, right?
Bec Derrington (21:18):
Again, it comes down to there’s three things you need to demonstrate. Empathy, compassion, and a human face. When you’ve got organisations like Qantas, and when you’ve got Alan Joyce saying he was going to … I think he either said he was going to go without pay, or he was going to … He was demonstrating that it was going to take a toll on him personally as well. That’s good messaging.
Bec Derrington (21:43):
We all want to see that as a collective, we’re bunkering down and we’re doing the right thing by everybody. We’re not profiting out of this situation. It just lands so badly, and people will remember. Like, it’s going to take a long time for me to say, “I might go back to Kogan. Maybe they’ve got a good deal. No, I just really, that’s really landed badly with me.”
Kym Heffernan (22:10):
Yeah. “They really pissed me off two months, whatever, so I’m not going to go back to them yet. It might take some time.”
Bec Derrington (22:15):
That’s right. It might take some time. But there is a cost for that. In terms of takeaways, I think you mentioned this before and I think this is really important, we need to be … I think we need to try to be kind of a soothing balm. Everyone is panicked, and I think really strong leadership in organisations need to try to help communicate as much as they can, what’s coming, what they anticipate, what could be the very worst, what could be the very best, and probably this is what’s really going to happen.
Bec Derrington (22:55):
And try to give some people some parameters to work within. There’s got to be some comfort messaging. I kind of feel like when all that terrible panic buying was coming out at the beginning, we needed leadership from the supermarkets to say, “Listen,” and from governments to say, “Listen, the supermarkets aren’t closing. We don’t need to worry about panic buying.” We need the suppliers to say, “Okay, now what we’ve done is now we’ve upped the ante. We’re manufacturing or we’re producing 24 hours a day and we’re restocking. We’ve removed the barriers to, in terms of timing around opening hours because we need time to stock or refill-
Kym Heffernan (23:40):
Deliver stuff, yeah.
Bec Derrington (23:40):
Exactly. That red tape’s being removed, so we’re now able to provide a better service. We need to be communicating those things, those calming messages. It’s not the time, I said in a tweet the other day, I think we all needed to hear, the supermarkets will stay open. There’s no need to panic buy, and we will continue with supply. Toilet paper is being manufactured in Australia, there is no problem in terms of the supply chain for that staple.
Bec Derrington (24:16):
Let’s hit them with rather than saying, “Stop it. Stop hoarding, it’s Un-Australian.” Say, “It’s okay. I understand why you’re panic buying. I want to reassure the suppliers will be there. The suppliers will be there. This is why maybe at the moment there’s empty shelves. This is what we’re doing to” … That so leadership is what I think we need to see to help calm the panic. As much as we can.
Kym Heffernan (24:44):
I love that soothing voice, Bec. It’s such an important thing, the messaging, the tone needs to be that soothing voice. Not, “There’s only 10 left, hurry now and buy now” type of stuff which is … And that’s part of the problem. I like that approach to the soothing voice. I think that’s really important. Are you seeing, it may be too early yet, a demand from some of the media organisations on how people are coping with this whole crisis? Is there a-
Bec Derrington (25:13):
Kym Heffernan (25:14):
… need to talk to each other via email or whatever communication you use to customers, via social media, say, “Here’s what we’re doing. We’re not panicking. Here’s what we’re doing to cope?”
Bec Derrington (25:27):
Look, I think a lot of media outlets are … I mean, I think they’re very responsive anyway to changes in the market, like their whole approach is very fluid and timely and immediate and responsive. The call outs have been for the last few … I mean, COVID-19 of course is pretty much the driver behind just about well, 80% of the call outs that are going out, and it’s all about how to cope. Whether it’s how to home school, how to set up efficient or stay-at-home work practises in your office, how to pivot as a restaurant to an online menu and a takeaway menu.
Bec Derrington (26:15):
The media have been, and this is why I kind of feel like a service like SourceBottle, which is why I sent that message out today, I think it’s really important to be able to be heard, to have these stories-
Kym Heffernan (26:27):
Bec Derrington (26:28):
… from businesses, to be told, and the media in all its forms is the best outlet. Because that business, that industry has been hit hard for years, but at the moment, it’s its time to shine, to really step up and be able to work from both good and bad. Of course, to inflame everyone and create that sense of panic, and a sense of urgency, which perhaps in some respects we still need, we still need to communicate the necessary precautions, because this is a real-
Kym Heffernan (27:06):
Bec Derrington (27:06):
A real issue.
Kym Heffernan (27:08):
Yeah, the social distancing and the work from home, all those messages are important obviously, to be able to do as well. 100%.
Bec Derrington (27:15):
And the other side is we’re having a lot of call outs for psychologists and healthcare professionals, about how to … Things that you don’t think about. If you’re in a home where there’s perhaps domestic violence, how do you safely lockdown? Things like that. Things that you maybe don’t think about, but there are a whole lot of people that are really suffering for other reasons, beyond just the inconvenience of being able to go and have a coffee with a mate.
Bec Derrington (27:50):
Things like healthcare professionals talking about loneliness and that sense of connection is so important, so sense of connection is so important to combat loneliness and how you do that in a time of self-isolation. Talking about examples of the community and how they’re stepping up. Those good stories to help feed the soul so that we all think that there’s not just, the world’s not full of parasites. Like, those sorts of things, you’ve got a lot of people with incredible expertise that need to be sharing and communicating those things via the media, in all its forms, via social media as well, responsibly. That’s how things are being impacted on my industry, personally.
Kym Heffernan (28:36):
I’ve got, and it’s only a hunch, and I’d love to get your feedback on this. As this goes on, more and more people will be looking for more positive stories. When it’s hope based or whatever it might be, rather than all the panic stories. I think people who do show, “Here’s how we’re calmly coping,” something simple for example is your, if you’re an IT company, “Here’s some simple tips you can do and working from home to improve your internet, or improve your computer,” or whatever it might be. Just things like that, that are actually helpful to people.
Bec Derrington (29:11):
So important. And I mean, the last podcast that I was listening to, that fabulous woman, what was her name?
Kym Heffernan (29:20):
Leanne. Was that Leanne?
Bec Derrington (29:21):
Yeah. About the blogging?
Kym Heffernan (29:22):
Bec Derrington (29:23):
Yeah. I mean, I kind of feel like [crosstalk 00:29:26]-
Kym Heffernan (29:25):
Bec Derrington (29:27):
Blog. If you’ve got expertise, you’ve got your own media channels. Media is broken up into paid, earned, and owned, and I’m sure you know, and I feel like now’s the time to step up and … As I said, I’ve got a blog called Spin the SourceBottle obviously, and at the moment I think the one thing I need to do is try to communicate and demonstrate how organisations are marketing this time of crisis well, and poorly. And to draw on the experts so they can help them share their expertise, as well.
Bec Derrington (30:04):
If you’ve got expertise to share right now, as an IT professional, now’s the time to be offering that sort of stuff up, to people who need it most, for free, if you can.
Kym Heffernan (30:18):
Even simple low cost ways of marketing your business is something that we would do. Just [crosstalk 00:30:25]-
Bec Derrington (30:24):
Really useful. Really useful.
Kym Heffernan (30:27):
Just draught it and … I mean, everyone has a contact list. It’s called a phone in most cases. [inaudible 00:30:33] get out of their phone, find the emails, the phone numbers of their clients, and reach out to them to say, “Here’s some ideas that might help you and your business get through this time. Here’s how I’m doing it.” Not to just use some ideas, “Click here to find out how.” You don’t want that sort of stuff, but, “Here’s what we’re doing. Here’s the things I thought I’d share with you, you can do.”
Kym Heffernan (30:54):
I mean, if it’s downtime, it’s client work, it might be as simple as working on your website that you can do for nothing. It might be building your database. Whatever you can do to make this type of stuff you never get time to do. You could be doing that now.
Bec Derrington (31:07):
Kym Heffernan (31:08):
So when you’re in a position …
Bec Derrington (31:12):
That’s right. In terms of I keep coming back to this takeaways that you’re sort of saying, and I think in terms of being meaningful, offering something up that maybe as a takeaway, so yes, it’s not a time to panic to … If you can migrate a lot of your business online or remotely and offer your services, have that service continuity, then fantastic. I know it’s not possible for some organisations, but if you can, that’s great. And three, as you’re saying Kym, offer meaningful support, help, in whatever format you can, in whatever communication vehicle you use.
Bec Derrington (31:53):
If it’s a Facebook Live, if it’s an email, make sure that you’re offering up what you can to your community to either, to demonstrate that there’s business continuity. You can be relied on. Or, to communicate the issues that you might have in … And if you are pivoting to a different delivery vehicle, say like retail-
Kym Heffernan (32:21):
Online gym training or whatever it might be, yeah?
Bec Derrington (32:24):
Exactly. Just communicate. And let people know that as we go through this state of flux, there might be hiccups. Please bear with us. People are prepared to do that. We want to obviously shop locally, get takeaways as much as we can, to try to support the local services industry where we live. Now, I noticed a sign and I was speaking to one of the proprietors of a restaurant recently and saying we’re moving to takeaway, we’re having problems supplying takeaway containers. God, you never even think about things like that.
Bec Derrington (33:01):
But we’re slowly doing this, and we’re going to communicate via Facebook. Okay, fine. We’re all prepared to just be patient, because we really want to help those in our industry, local businesses, that are really struggling. I think recognising that this might be a long haul issue, so you probably should pivot if you can. How to do it? Communicate with your audience and your clients and your customers, and just let them know how they can help you. Because everyone wants to help you. Like, they really do. If we can.
Kym Heffernan (33:40):
I think that’s a really important … I love that. I’d almost add another to that is don’t step outside your boundaries, which you touched on before. Don’t start commenting on this is over hyped or it’s never going to spread or whatever else. I’ve got a personal bugbear about the number of people jumping on social media saying the government should do this and this person should do that. It doesn’t help anyone. It’s not going to change it. If you can’t say anything positive, stay off social media to me.
Bec Derrington (34:10):
Yeah. No, that’s a good point. I think there are a lot of people who their brand is to shock and criticise, and I think they’ll be having a field day at the moment. I kind of try to steer clear of that, because it just really starts to erode your own … It starts to erode your own mental health after a period of time.
Kym Heffernan (34:35):
Well, it does. I think that’s something people need to be mindful of as well. I mean, it is a bit of isolation as to working from home, but I mean, even if your business, one of the things in my business, I’m part of a networking group that used to meet every week. We now do that online via Zoom. Send out to your people saying, “I’m doing client meeting via Zoom. If you haven’t heard of Zoom, here it is.”
Bec Derrington (34:59):
Kym Heffernan (35:00):
Just little stuff like that, that you don’t think, but you’re coming at it from a sharing viewpoint, like you said. You’re being a soothing voice saying, “Here’s something to think about.” You talk about what’s coming for them. You’re really showing some positive information, I guess, aren’t you? And putting that out there.
Bec Derrington (35:20):
Yep. And as I said, for a lot of organisations, if you need your community to help you, if you need your community to support, ask. Ask. Ask how they can show that they can help you, because they want to help you, and so make sure you make it clear how they can help you, make it easy for them to do so, if it’s like providing a link or providing something, so that they can easily demonstrate. Because it makes everyone feel better, if we’re all helping support each other, in a time when it’s really pretty dire.
Bec Derrington (35:54):
And the other thing, Kym, really, really important as well, that same marketer I think maybe got some backlash, the one that I said was using-
Kym Heffernan (36:06):
Bec Derrington (36:06):
… some of those-
Kym Heffernan (36:06):
The sequencing stuff, yeah.
Bec Derrington (36:08):
… [crosstalk 00:36:08] … That’s right. Anything automated marketing, anything automated right now is going to really-
Kym Heffernan (36:16):
Stop the automation.
Bec Derrington (36:16):
… fall badly, so just stop it.
Kym Heffernan (36:18):
Bec Derrington (36:18):
But the other thing is the most recent communication I received from them was disguising the sale among a suggestion of concern. Just as bad. Just be overt. You may as well be overt. Being sneaky about it, and still trying to get the sale at the end, getting you down through the funnel, because I was really interested to see how, and it was still how this was going to help them.
Kym Heffernan (36:53):
It was still download the guide, and give us your details, was it?
Bec Derrington (36:56):
Still pay. No, no. There’s no freebie in this, this is still, “This is what it’s going to cost you. This is a fantastic offer.” I’m like, we’re not interested in your fantastic offers right now. And certainly don’t try to hide them in a sense of a concerned email. It’s even worse. It’s even worse. Be genuine. Be human. Be authentic. It’s never been more important.
Kym Heffernan (37:19):
Yeah, I guess it comes down to the very thing that you spoke about at the beginning, is intent. I mean, if intent is-
Bec Derrington (37:25):
You’re spot on.
Kym Heffernan (37:25):
… to share and help, and it’s a customer focus, it’s really pretty basic. Even though we’re in a crisis, it’s basic stuff, focusing on customers rather than yourself.
Bec Derrington (37:35):
Yeah. I mean, all the big crises … All the crisis communications disasters, all the PR disaster have come about when people have either put their head in the sand and just not communicated anything, or have come across as being inward facing, and as you say, if the intent is how I’m going to weasel my way out of this situation, or I’m going to benefit from this situation, or at your expense, like if any of that is the intent behind the messaging, it doesn’t matter what you say. It’s going to come across, and people will remember. People will remember the organisations that are supporting them, that help them, and people will remember the ones that were as you say, inward facing with the wrong intent.
Kym Heffernan (38:25):
Yeah, and I don’t think anyone can put their head in the sand at the moment. I remember a gym trainer, I won’t mention which one, I sent a message from another one which said, “Hey, look, we closed down from yesterday. Really sorry to have this happen. Obviously we’re suspending all your fees.” The one I’m a member of sent something out saying, “Hey, we’re closed down, and your local organisation will contact you.” No mention about fees-
Bec Derrington (38:49):
Kym Heffernan (38:50):
… mention of anything. I had to write back to them and say, “Hey, I want it suspended immediately.” That’s just poor messaging, for example.
Bec Derrington (38:58):
Kym Heffernan (38:59):
They’re clearly thinking about what’s going to happen to their revenues, no doubt about that. It’s not great messaging.
Bec Derrington (39:05):
There you go. The intent was clear, it’s the wrong intent. It is the wrong intent.
Kym Heffernan (39:12):
So to [inaudible 00:39:13] people, I think if you go back as you and I both said, have a look at the messages you’re receiving and seeing what’s working, not working. Don’t copy the ones that aren’t working. Think about how you felt as a customer. Do you want your customers and prospective customers to feel the same?
Bec Derrington (39:30):
Kym Heffernan (39:32):
The answer is no. Look Bec, it’s been a wonderful discussion. I really appreciate your time, particularly I know you’re probably flat out at the moment with people trying to find stories and getting a platform up and running. It must be a bit of a crisis time for you as well, so I really do appreciate your time and your wisdom as well.
Bec Derrington (39:47):
Oh no. It’s been really great talking to you, Kym. [crosstalk 00:39:52].
Kym Heffernan (39:52):
The best way for people to contact you, is that through, go to TheSourceBottle.com.au? How do you want people to reach out and connect with you?
Bec Derrington (39:58):
Yeah, look, I’m available everywhere. I’m Bec Derrington on LinkedIn. I’m [email protected] It’s just .com. But yeah, I mean, just … I’m Bec Derrington on Twitter, because I love Twitter, it’s my favourite platform.
Kym Heffernan (40:18):
I think you’re putting out a lot of great content as well, so go to SourceBottle, subscribe, and you’ll see what’s happening, get a feel for what’s happening out there as well. Because I think sometimes we can be a bit insulated by what happens on mainstream media and the stories and online media. A lot of things you’re putting out on SourceBottle are the stories people want to hear, and that’ll give you a guideline, right? What to write about to your own clients as well.
Bec Derrington (40:42):
Kym Heffernan (40:43):
Bec, thank you again for your time. I really appreciate it.
Bec Derrington (40:45):
No problems. Thank you, Kym.
Kym Heffernan (40:47):
Thanks. Bye bye. That’s it for me, Kym Heffernan, and The Marketing Strategy Show today. We hope you found the tips useful in learning how to better communicate with your clients and prospects during this crisis. Keep well, keep safe, and keep smiling because we will get over this together. Thank you.