Since the novel coronavirus rocked the world in early 2020, it’s had a profound effect everywhere. And here in the US, we’re nowhere near quashing the virus, with over 387,000 new cases just in a span of 7 days from October 12th to the 19th. It’s clear that things won’t go back to normal for a very long time.
This pandemic has changed how we do everything, including networking. If you’re wondering how to network in a time of social distancing, then read on.
Do Video Conferencing
Of course, the number one thing everyone’s been doing to safely network nowadays is video conferencing. More specifically, everyone’s using Zoom; daily meeting counts shot up from just 10 million in December 2019 to 200 million in March 2020 and then 300 million in April.
Video conferencing allows you and everyone else involved to see and converse with one another without being in the same room. this is highly convenient, but as expected, people are starting to become bored of Zoom meetings. You probably are too.
Below are some other fun ways you can successfully network in these uncertain times.
Host a Virtual Event
If you’re a small business, you might struggle to get your products and services out to your desired audience, even before the pandemic hit. A great way to showcase what you have to offer and network at the same time is to host a virtual event.
For instance, if you sell wines, you can hold a virtual wine tasting event. Send interested participants some of your product (wine, in this case), and then have a casual livestream. Those who are interested in hearing more afterward (whether they’re distributors or clients) can then reach out.
Virtual events are a fantastic way of showing off what you have to offer, plus it’s interactive, which makes it much more interesting and fun.
You can also scale down virtual events and have one-on-ones, such as virtual coffee meetings. Make it as close to the real thing by actually making a cup of java before you sit down for your call.
Reach Out on Social Media
Social media is a huge thing for today’s society, and it’s not going anywhere, pandemic or not. Most are more casual platforms, so feel free to jump into conversations to present a more fun side of your brand.
Most allow you to attach media to your messages, so don’t be afraid to take things to another level with pictures and videos. This can help ensure that you make a lasting impression.
Network in Safe but Fun Ways During the Pandemic
After reading this article, you now have several ways to network in safe but fun ways during the pandemic. Whether it’s hosting a virtual event, having a virtual coffee meeting, or reaching out on social media, you’re sure to grow your network. Not only will you find more people to collaborate with, but your brand will also become better known!
To say the last few weeks haven’t affected all of us both personally and professionally would be a disservice to our families and businesses. We want to reassure you that we are here for you and remind you of the importance to stay engaged with your clients – even online.
It may be your gut instinct to preserve your business by making cuts to your budget – particularly in marketing. However, studies of recent recessions have shown that businesses that refocus spending outperformed businesses that made sweeping cuts. Businesses that take a more progressive approach to spend during recessions have higher profitability and come out of recessions ahead of their competition.
That’s why it’s so critical to not direct funds away from marketing, but instead, reallocate funding into marketing. When we work together we can ensure that your sales and marketing efforts will not only continue but potentially thrive and lead to a greater chance of success when this time of crisis passes.
Here are some suggestions we have for continuing to reach your customers during the pandemic:
1. Be Easy to Find Online
There are currently more people online than there are people in their cars or walking around outside. Eyeballs are on screens. It’s never been more important to be searchable online.
Now is not the time to be hidden online. You should have:
An updated websitewith information about how your business is handling COVID-19
It’s not just to remind your customers that your business is still here and needs support, it’s an opportunity to show your audience real empathy. Never has been there a more ideal time to stand out in the marketplace by showing sensitivity and consideration toward people.
Show the people behind the business – staying at home, managing social isolation just like everyone else. Show how you care and how you’re helping – maybe by doing charitable acts or
fundraising. You can promote these good deeds on social media to build your brand. This will resonate with people and they will remember when this pandemic passes and money can flow more freely again.
3. Focus on SEO & Online Reviews
During the very few times many of us leave our homes, we want to stay close by to get food and supplies. Using SEO strategies to optimize your website can help put you closer to the top of the list of search results when people are making location-based searches.
Additionally, now is a great time to accumulate positive online reviews. If you can provide great service during a time of crisis, you can prove the best of your business’s reputation. Ask past customers and, especially, customers you serve during this time to leave you a review either on Google or Facebook.
4. Be Flexible & Connect in Uncertain Times
Nobody really knows what’s going to happen with how COVID-19 plays out and how much it will affect the economy so it’s imperative to remain flexible and fluid with your business during these times. Stay in touch with your customers – via email, social media, snail mail, website, or otherwise – and let them know how you’re adapting your business during these times. For example, if you’re a restaurant – delivery or curbside pick-up. Or if you’re a consultation-based buisness– online meetings only. Let your network know how you’re handling the changes as they come.
5. Use the Downtime to Finish To-Do Lists
Now that we’re restricted to working from home and have reclaimed some time from daily commutes back and forth to the office, it’s likely you have some extra time. Now is a great time to address those marketing to-do list items that have been sitting on the backburner.
We need to stay relevant and top of mind with our clients, especially when the dust settles from this coronavirus pandemic. This disruption will not last forever and we can still reach clients via email, social media, website, and snail-mail. Simply stated virtual is now our reality, but content is still king! As you know, the content that you present becomes your voice. Please reach out to CommCore Marketing if you need assistance with marketing during these uncertain times. Our thoughts go out to all of those affected by this crisis, please take good care of yourself and your family.
When it comes to branding, it’s critical to be consistent wherever you promote your brand. Both online and offline, your promotional efforts have to align with each other to be effective. Wherever your business has a presence, your brand identity needs to be clear.
When searching on the internet, people are not thinking of going offline to discover more about your brand, so neither should you. Your website is the ideal platform online to create a brand image with continuity so that any user who comes across it knows exactly who you are.
But how exactly does one create a lasting brand identity on a website that can also be leveraged offline? Here are five tips that will guide you in unifying your branding identity.
1. Branding Identity Basics: Your Logo, Typography, & Colors
If you haven’t already branded your business with a set of colors to use and a brand logo, this is the first thing you should do. You may not think it’s a priority, but these visual factors play a strong role in keeping your brand lodged in the minds of viewers.
First things first: your logo. If you haven’t already, get a logo designed ASAP. There is no shortage of graphic designers who are willing to help you design a logo. Then be sure your logo is on every material you put out as a business– your website pages, business cards, letterheads, etc. When you pick your brand colors, you need to consider that each color has psychological impacts. Red tends to convey feelings of excitement or intensity while gray gives off feelings of balance and calm. Do some research into the meanings of each color and decide from there which colors communicate the feelings you want to be associated with your brand.
Then– stick with the colors you pick. This will help reinforce your brand in a potential buyer’s mind. When you’re not consistent with color schemes, your brand becomes less memorable.
2. Use Language that Aligns with Your Brand
Your brand voice is incredibly important. Just like with your brand colors, you need to use language that speaks to your ideal buyer and client base. If you’re not sure what
language to use with the people you want to reach, start by considering how you want your brand to feel to your audience.
Write down a list of words and pick just three that you want to use for the base of your brand in the form of text. Here are just a few ideas:
What words jump out as ones that would work with your brand? If you’re a lawyer, you probably wouldn’t want to choose “fun, trendy, and laid-back.” These words might fit with a bowling alley brand, but a law office might be better off using words like “formal, informative, and dedicated.”
Brainstorm your list using words that could apply to your brand. You can find a list of more brand voice descriptors here. Then consider the tone and description of your voice. Will you use slang or formal language? Will you use long-winded sentences or short, pithy sentences?
These are all things to consider before writing content for your brand. Language is important in conveying your identity.
3. Use Relevant Imagery
Images you use on your website or any other materials your business puts out there must be high-resolution and quality, however, these are not the only factors you need to consider when selecting images for your website.
A picture really is worth a thousand words (or more). With that consideration, put yourself in your audience’s shoes. Someone viewing your website, social media profiles, or brick-and-mortar business wants a real glimpse into the brand that they’re researching.
Many brands choose imagery as if it’s just a checkbox on a list of how to create a good brand. These images are often stock images that are vaguely related to the brand. But
why would you use imagery that’s open for public use to describe your brand– a brand that you want to position as unique?
You need to use original imagery that truly describes your brand and gives viewers an idea of what you’re like. Include images of your staff, your products, and services, your office. All of these original and unique images communicate a sense of trustworthiness to viewers because it’s more transparent and authentic.
4. The Essential Branding Info
Many businesses neglect to make use of this opportunity to distinguish themselves from others in their industry. No matter what your brand does, you should always have a page on your website describing who you are and what your brand values are. This is the chance to get explicit about your brand mission and vision and drive home what makes your brand unique as compared to your competitors.
Once you have that information on your site, you can use the same verbiage on social media, at networking events, and on marketing materials to uniquely position your brand.
This may not seem like it belongs in a discussion about branding, but it’s imperative to connect the dots between branding and business. If a person who wants to reach out to your business cannot find contact information, your brand is in serious trouble. You’re a business; you want people contacting you! Make sure anyone who goes out of their way to find how to contact you can do so easily. Include as many contact methods as possible: phone, email, physical address, hours of operation, etc.
5. Get Social
Many brands think of social media as a to-do item on a list to be a successful business. But social media is not just a nice addition to your brand– it’s an extension of your brand.
Think of it this way: there are more eyes on social media sites than there are on your website or inside your store. Instead of leveraging people off of social media, engage them directly where their attention is. Your social accounts should be just as active as you are in your business.
Be sure to link all of your social accounts to your site and make it easy for people to find your various social channels when they’re on your website. Social media should be a big part of your branding strategy.
The key to brand unity is to be sure to be consistent with your logo, brand colors, language, and imagery you use. Make it as easy as possible for people to learn about who you are, and make it easy for them to engage you where they’re already giving their attention. Want more guidance on unifying your brand’s identity? Reach out to CommCore Marketing today!
It’s no secret nowadays that successful brands make the most of social media marketing– especially on Facebook.
You see advertisements every time you log on, whether they be sponsored ads or ads that pop up on the sidebar. Facebook makes sure you see them because it makes all its revenue off of selling your information to businesses.
Maybe you have even previously created a Facebook ad for your business. But if Facebook ads aren’t created with the right goal in mind, they won’t be helpful to you in bringing quality potential customers.
There’s considerably more that you can do on Facebook to maximize your marketing efforts. Here are a few tips:
Make Your Website a Priority
When creating an ad, many businesses will place focus on the metrics Facebook offers – Likes, Reach, Engagement – in order to measure the ad’s success. This isn’t wrong, but these metrics can be meaningless unless you’re driving quality traffic.What is quality traffic?
Quality traffic is people who have a legitimate interest in your brand. These are the people who will answer your call to action and yield legitimate leads to sales. This is an audience that actually cares about you.Anyone can see a post, like it, or comment and share it. But unless your content inspires people to go a step further and make it to your website, your Facebook metrics won’t mean very much to your salespeople.But how do you actually build a quality audience? That brings us to the next tip.
Create Original and Helpful Content
Sure, sharing funny memes, videos, and photos that regularly circulate Facebook can get you more attention. But unless your brand offers content that’s original, relevant, and useful, there’s no motivation for your audience to have a genuine interest in you as a brand.
Creating original content will provide a value to your brand for your audience. Most of this content should have little to do with your product. Depending on your industry, you will want to create content generally based around it. For example, if you are a real estate agent, you could create content answering questions like…
a. What are some common real estate misconceptions?
b. What is a buyer’s agent?
c. What are some tips for first time buyers?
With this type of content, you will be able to start creating a quality audience base that ultimately ends up at your website.
Share, Promote, Build!
Once you’ve created your content, you have to share it and get back to focusing on your Facebook metrics. At first you won’t get very much engagement. This is because most people aren’t interested in your content – but the people who are will be the people who click, and those are the people you really care about!
Promote this content – this is what you want to spend your ad dollars on. The more value you have to offer, the higher the quality of your audience will become.
Building a quality base that will respond to your calls to action is key in Facebook marketing.
So don’t just make your Facebook marketing about what happens on Facebook – create original content that drives people back to your website. Create actual value that will attract a quality fan base. Once you have a quality fan base, your opportunities will expand.
Surely by now, you’re familiar with the advertisements that pop up on your Facebook Newsfeed. They can appear on the right hand side or within the actual feed while you’re scrolling. Some of these ads can seem targeted specifically, sometimes too specifically, for you. If you’ve experienced this before, you have experienced the magic of Facebook ads.
More and more businesses are moving away from traditional advertising channels to advertising on Facebook. But why? Because it works! Facebook ads are able to target audiences that no other medium can – not even Google!
Yes, it’s true, not even the almighty Google has the targeting power that Facebook has.
The truth of the matter is that with Google, you can only advertise to the people who search for keywords related to your product. That’s a pretty limited audience and there are a limited number of keywords that you can use for any product. Then, when you take into account that your competitors will also bid on these limited keywords, Google Adwords can get pretty pricey.
Do you really want to be pouring money into a bidding war on an already limited audience? Maybe not.
Here’s where Facebook is different than Google: It doesn’t matter what your users are searching, all that matters is who your customers are. Rather than targeting web users with keywords, you’re targeting real people with jobs, interests, and personalities.
The Custom Audiences feature on Facebook allows you to target or retarget a very specific niche of users. This laser-focused type of advertising has proven so successful that even B2B companies are finding Facebook ads useful.
It’s fairly simple to create your own Facebook ad. You can go to Settings in your Facebook account and then ‘Facebook Ads Manager.’ First, it will ask you what your objective is. Do you want to promote your Page? Send people to your website? Increase conversions on your website? Raise attendance at your event? Reach people near your business? There are 12 different objectives you can choose from.
Once you’ve selected an objective, it will prompt you to name your ad campaign and fill in some basic information. Then you can start defining your audience. After selecting the basic demographics of your audience — locations, age range, gender, and
languages spoken — you’ll move onto the detailed targeting where you can select specific demographics, interests, or behaviors or your audience. This is where you can get creative! You might be surprised how specific you can get, and just how much of an audience each of these specifications has.
For example, if you wanted to target an audience that buys eco-friendly and environmentally-conscious products, you could do so by entering the drop down menu and selecting Behaviors > Purchase behavior > Buyer Profile > Green Living. This specification on its own yields a Facebook target audience of over 33 million people. Not, bad huh? You can also add Connections, or people who have a specific kind of connection to your Page, app, or event.
Once you have specified your audience, a little meter on the right hand side will tell you whether your audience is broad or narrow, and about how many potential users your ad will reach. All that’s left to do is to select ad placement (it’s recommended to set this on “automatic”) and set your budget and schedule. You can set a daily or lifetime budget, and you can make your ad run continuously or have a start or end date.
Once you’ve done all that, you create the Facebook ad, place the order, and you’re good to go! Facebook makes tracking your ad’s success easy, allowing you to customize the notifications you receive. So give it a try and watch your conversions grow! If this seems daunting or you simply don’t have the time, contact us and we can help connect your business to the rest of the world using Facebook Ads.
When we’re busy running our businesses, we hardly think we have the time to build relationships with other businesspeople. But the truth is that your success really is dependent not only who you know but who knows you. The connections we build with others are ultimately what drives our ever-changing realm of opportunity.
Networking is about making connections that lead to enduring and mutually beneficial relationships. There are many networking groups and resources out there established for the sole purpose of cultivating these connections. Whether it be your local chamber chapter, a prestigious international networking group such as BNI, or just a virtual network like LinkedIn, there are many chances to begin reaching out to other businesspeople.
When we build these relationships with other businesspeople, we’re giving these other people a unique position in their minds. We become more than just “that guy who runs the carpeting and floors business”; we become “Brian, that guy who runs the carpeting and floor business with the wife and three kids and heck of a golf record.” When you’re associated with more than just a business in someone’s mind, when more of your personality is remembered by others, then your business begins to stand out. We rise and remain at the top of mind.
Networking also makes doing business much more friendly. When you know and like the person you’re doing business with, you’re much more happy to do it. People do business with those they like and trust. The more people who know not just your business, but you, the more your referrals you will get. You want to be on people’s minds — that’s where REAL advertising takes place.
So make sure you get out there and communicate with businesspeople in your communities. And if you personally don’t have the time to get out there and network, send someone to do it for you. Get someone out there who will be a good face for your business. The more relationships you build, the more opportunities for success you will have.