Expert Connexions: Coronavirus Marketing Strategies

Good morning.

Welcome to our specialFacebook live series called expert connexions where we are interviewingexperts to help all of us during this COVID-19 pandemic.

This morning we kickoff our first of three live interviews today.

Coming up today at one o'clockwe'll be talking to Vicki Hamilton Allen.

She is the CEO of Habitat for HumanityCapital Region.

All construction work has come to a stop, so we're gonna talk withVicki about how the coronavirus is impacting her nonprofit and hearwhat she's doing about that.

Then today coming up at 3 o'clock, some majorchanges impacting the spring housing market.

Amy Jackson of 517realestate.

com will join us to talk about what to expect if you are looking, if you were looking forward to that spring housing market, we're gonna hearabout all the changes there and what to expect but first a few of my veryfavorites are going to join us today to talk about marketing.

So let me bringthem in.

First we have Stephanie Barnhill.

Stephanie is, let's bring that up there, Stephanie is an organizational consultant with mConnexions.

Goodmorning Stephanie.

Good morning excited to be here today.

and we also have Alexis joining us.

Alexis is a digital marketing strategist, she's a graphic designer with mConnexions.

Good morning Alexis.

Hey Julie.

And then we have Katie Rexrode who is a writer and a strategist withmConnexions.

Good morning Katie.

Hi.

I know I'm so biased that I keep sayingsome of my favorite experts are joining us but I'm really lookingforward to this conversation.

Ladies from the outside looking in we have beendoing an extraordinary amount of Facebook lives lately.

I think we willhave nearly 20 and all by the end of today alone, which might make it looklike we have a lot of time on our hands.

The reality is we've actually taken manyof the conversations that we've been having privately with all of our clientsand we're sharing them here on Facebook to help as many people as we can andwe've all agreed that too it's time for kind of this peek behindthe curtains and I know I couldn't be doing all of these lives without all ofyou and your support with our team.

Well and Julie I just want to chime in youmake these Facebook lives look so easy but I know and we all know on our teamthat there are a lot of effort and it really does take a hefty amount ofteamwork to make the dream work as we say.

Yes teamwork makes the dream work.

Ieven have my nieces and nephew saying that and they don't know Steph that itcame from your husband or wherever he got it from but um but absolutely weknow there are a lot of changes for businesses.

We're workingthrough them on a daily basis with our clients.

We feel them here in ourcommunity, we feel them with their own business, and so thank you all forjoining me to talk about the marketing aspects of this and I want to quick sayto our audience have your questions ready.

Feel free to use the chat box.

Fairgame anything you want to ask we are here to answer your marketingquestions.

So first Alexis I want to start with you um because you work on alot of strategy.

So as a brand or business what are some of the thingsthat people should be doing online right now like what are some things thatyou would recommend businesses be doing? Okay that's a great question.

I know thiscan be kind of a scary time for businesses to figure out okay where'sthe line? You know there was business as usual and now there's today and wherewe're at so you know where's that balance? So the first thing I wouldsay for businesses just across the board is watch your tone.

Don't scare people.

Wewant to provide information that is accurate and fact-checkedbut we don't want to be too doom and gloom and we also don't want to be toocheerful.

You can't ignore the fact that this is happening and that you know thisis a scary time and it is an uncertain time and it's okay to acknowledge thatwithout going you know too far into you know this is a disaster and you knowwe're all really freaked out.

We want to stay positive whilebeing cognizant of what everyone including you know ourselves as brandsand businesses are going through.

So I think that's the biggest thing.

Maintaining your brand and staying authentic.

You are yourbranded business and that doesn't need to change just because we're in adifferent situation right now.

So you want to maintain who you are.

Yourcustomers know you, your clients know you, they come to you for the servicesthat you provide, so stick with that.

You want to try to figure out how you canadjust your approach for the current circumstances, but don't make broad scalechanges where you're you know completely changing up your messaging and whatyou stand for and what you're doing.

Stay consistent and stay authentic and youknow and just be just be real.

Be the brand in business that you've alwaysbeen, but don't be afraid to make to make changes that will empower your businessto be successful in the current climate.

and Alexis I'll just jump in realquick because I love what you're saying you're so spot-on with authenticity.

Ithink it's something that we know you know especially you know our teamand marketing knows that this is authenticity is already important allthe time right, but right now going this current crisis it feels like now morethan ever people aren't wanting to be sold to and they're not wantingto be you know feel like they're being swindled or taken advantage of duringthis critical time and so it feels like that this is it's even more crucial nowto really understand a business.

If you're wanting to work with the business, what's their mission? What are they doing to give back? How are they supportingthat you know they're their company internally, but also externally as well?And you know with every dollar that matters right now that we're spending onpurchases or services we really want to be aligned it feels like to me we reallywant to be aligned with companies that are doing good and sticking withtheir own brand and own mission and so I think I think you're right authenticityis just as important now as it ever is but even more so.

Yeah definitely Ithink you know you don't want to abandon your clients and your customers you know.

You don't want to abruptly change your entire persona and who you are.

I thinkone of the things that is so difficult about the you know current state of theworld is there's so much uncertainty.

So as a brand or business don't feed intothat.

Be consistent, stay authentic, do what you can to support both yourcommunity, fellow businesses, and your clients and customers.

You knowjust letting them know that you're there for them.

You're not trying to sell tothem.

You know now is not the time to implement you know your new latest andgreatest sales strategy.

You know we don't want to capitalize on this timeand try to take advantage of it but we do want to just be present and beavailable for the people who are gonna rely on us.

Absolutely and Alexis andStephanie both that you've been talking two things have come to mind.

One Alexisyou said like it is not business as usual right now.

At this point anybusiness that is pretending that it's business as usual and by pretending youmight not actually be pretending but if you're still going through the motions.

If you set up an email campaign prior to this stay home, thisshelter-in-place order, then if it's still running and it's running likebusiness as usual, something's wrong.

You need to stop that campaign.

You need toreevaluate you know any social media posts that you scheduled prior to this, look at the messaging.

Alexis we're putting our heads together right beforethis broadcast because you know we had a post that had kind of snuck through andwe were looking at okay how do we change the messaging on this?The content is still relevant.

The content is still good, but we need tomake sure that we're addressing the situation and the reality of what peopleare going through right now and I think that that any business that justcontinues to operate especially the sales part.

Just continuing to operate asbusiness as usual, you're missing out on a critical time to be able to actuallyconnect with your audience.

We how often do we try ladies to really help ourclients connect as people.

It's not just business to but even if you're abusiness-to-business you're still a business with people, connecting to abusiness with people, and right now there's no easier way to connectthem with people but it has to be done in a way that's genuine and authentic.

SoStephanie you really nailed that too.

Shari Pash and what she saidon one of her interviews comes to mind because we need to find a way to beconnecting with people.

It is not business as usual.

Andy Baileyalso talked about this and how if you are looking to profit during thiscrisis, if you are looking to if you are marking up your prices, if youare trying to earn extra money off of people like that is not the way to begoing about this.

If you have a service to offer and you can do it at marketvalue or even at a discount, perfect.

That's exactly what this countrywas built on right.

If you are able to to pivot a little bit and offer aslightly different service.

If you're able to meet the needs of your customersin new ways that helps your business and helps your clients, then great like thatis what this country was built for.

That is what we need right now, but if you'rejust out there looking to make a buck then you're gonna end up really turningoff your audience.

Yeah and I think there's definitely an awarenessthat you want to have that you know now more than ever like now's not the timeto be cute.

You know we've seen this when we mean this is a this is a nationalemergency kind of on a totally different scale but we've seen this with in thepast with brands that have tried to kind of capitalize on things that are not sopositive and turn it into a sale or you know an opportunity.

That's not what wewant to be doing.

That's not the way to go and I think it's reallyimportant to stay away from things like that and to just look at you knowhow can we support? You know how can we encourage? How can we connect?That's something that's obviously you know we're really missing you know juston a human level, connecting with people.

We're all isolated, quarantined you knowso for those brands and businesses that are able to kind of reach across thatdivide and bridge that gap a little bit you know that's where you're gonna seesuccess in the long term and that's really what you're looking to build atthis point right.

You know it's not about driving sales, it's about you knowgetting earning really earning that customer loyalty and earning a profit.

Absolutely.

A couple quick comments here I want tomake sure we're I'm reading these comments as we go through and it lookslike Stephanie had dropped out but we will add her back in when she can join.

So Seth says, so true authenticity is crucial for all brands.

And that's areally good point Seth.

It doesn't matter who you are or what you do, you have to beauthentic.

Do what makes sense for you even if it doesn't pay off now, it willin the long run.

I couldn't agree more Seth absolutely.

Nathan Creswick, anotherentrepreneur, has chimed in here and says there are a lot of people online at thistime, it's a prime opportunity to connect.

Absolutely and he also says it'sbusiness unusual, business as unusual at the moment.

So Alexis I want to jump backto you and ask are you seeing any examples of companies that are doing itright or companies that are really doing it wrong? Yes to both.

So I actuallyjust ran across this really interesting example yesterday which and I love thisexample because they think it really shows both sides you know doing it wrongand then what this person could have done to avoid doing it wrong in thefirst place.

So talk about like Instagram influencers, Kristin Cavallari is areality TV star Instagram influencer she also has her own business, herown jewelry line and for the last few days she has been posting on Instagrampromoting some sales that she's got going on and a new fan messaginginteractive service that she wants people to join so that they can you knowcommunicate with her and hear more about her business.

People are not having it.

People feel like it's really tone-deaf and it's really a little bit out oftouch given what we're currently experiencing and you know kindof the fear that people are going through right now.

They were not afraidto let her know in her Instagram comments that this really this is – yeah no it did not go well.

However and she definitely picked upon that, so a couple of days later she started sharing posts that were somebehind the scenes at her warehouse andbehind-the-scenes that some of her businesses talking about you know thereason that she feels so passionately about her business right now is becauseshe wants to keep these people employed and these are some of the things thatthey're doing to keep their employees safe and you know at the appropriatedistance and you know sanitizing and hand-washing and all of these things andyou know how much she values her team and her employees and that's why youknow she really wants to make sure that they stay afloat.

That is good.

That'swhat you want.

That is totally different messaging right.

Authentic and real and gets to yourheart and you think I want to help her if I can.

Yeah it's person-to-person.

yeahso that that is a I love that example because I think it just shows a that youcan recover you know.

If you do it wrong that doesn't mean you just youknow go dark and that's it and you know we're we cut it off.

You know you cancome back from it but you need to you just need to reevaluate.

You need torethink your approach.

There are some other brands and businesses that havedone similar things.

KFC in recent weeks has pulled a campaign that was theirfinger looking good campaign, that's not something you want to be promoting atthis moment.

Hershey candy – As we are all trying really hard not to touch our faces.

Hershey candysaid has also pulled a campaign that was like it was a give a stranger a candybar.

Which is a great campaign in you know in the old world, not so much in our new world, but then you've got brands like Netflix that implemented that viewingparty option, so that you can watch movies and TV shows with friends liveand you know you can all be at the same time.

We've got businesses actually hereup in Traverse City in northern Michigan and that are distilleries that aremaking hand sanitizer.

You know so they're maintaining their status as asmall business that is here for the community and providing a service.

It'snot the service they were providing before exactly but it's the servicethat's needed right now that they can use their facilities forand there are examples of those types of things all across the country but I'm aparticular fan of that because it's happening right here in my community butso there are good things happening but I think is a brand and a company youhave to be brave enough to evaluate your current strategy and to be able tomake that step and say okay this isn't gonna work, we got to put this on holdand we're gonna do something a little bit different.

Absolutely and I think fora lot of businesses you know looking at it from this logical perspective.

It's areally hard place to be in right now because on one side we have this and I'mgonna I'm gonna totally like overly summarize this but we have this reallyhorrible thing that's happening it's affecting us personally.

It'saffecting our friends, our families, our entire communities, and so we have thisreally horrible thing that's happening and we're trying to figure out how todeal with that.

On the other side we also have businesses that whether we own it, whether you own a business, or whether you work for a business, we all rely onbusinesses to pay our bills and so you have kind of this push-pull of theemotional side and then the logical side of okay I still want to keep my teamemployed, I still want to be able to pay my mortgage, I want to keep the lights on, You know so it's this back and forth poll I think where we want to beable to help but we also need to think about how do we keep these businesseswith cash flowing and keep these people employed and kee thingsmoving keep our economy going while at the same time our nurses and doctors andmedical staff and grocery store workers and people are on the front lines youknow keeping you know working on the actual pandemic and so I thinkAlexis a lot of what you're saying is not just brand messaging but also howwe're in general communicating both internally and externally and so Katie Iwant to turn to you because you wrote for us a really great blog aboutinternal messaging.

So I want to ask you know when it comes to and real quicklyso Nathan says, customers are looking for reassurance at this time and NathanOwns Creswick farms and so Nathan I know you're reallyfeeling that right now as well.

Thank you for all you're doing and all that yourteam is doing.

As you I know I've been working really long days to help keep upwith the demand for food right now and so but Nathan I wanted to point outyour comment because customers are looking for reassurance and I thinkinternally staff and employees are looking for that as well.

So Katie howshould people be communicating with their employees during this time? ThanksJulie.

I think authenticity is very applicablewhen you look at the internal group as well.

Ultimately your employees are goingto help determine how well you do post crisis.

Are you being authentic with them?Are you being consistent and clear and messaging? I mean everybody knows there'ssomething terrible happening so it's okay to acknowledge that and to saywe're doing as much as we can to get through this.

Our goal is to keep thecompany going and their goal is to have a job.

So really it's a teameffort.

So you know you should be communicating quickly, you should becommunicating often, you should give you sorry – you should also communicate wellunlike me just there, but people are people know this is happening so iftheir leadership is honest with them they're going to feel better about ithonestly.

You don't need to commit to something that you're not willing tocommit to.

What you need to commit to is what you're doing now and how you'relooking at it as a leadership team.

Pull together your key leaders, talkabout how this is impacting the business.

How it impacts the employees at everylevel.

How it impacts your frontline staff could be different than how itaffects your people management group.

So it's okay to just really tear yourcommunications based on audience, but again it's just about consistency andalso set a parameter of how often you're going to communicate.

Are you gonna do itweekly are you probably you want to do it more than weekly at this pointhonestly.

Maybe not every day.

What is your typical approach for communication?Are you someone who does a town hall monthly? Thenshould still do your monthly townhall, but do it online or audio have peoplecall in.

You want to make it as regular as you can in a very irregular time.

Katie I like that.

Make it as regular as you can in an irregular time.

Do youthink there is I mean is it possible to over communicate or are there parametersthat you would recommend especially for that internal communication? I think theover communication happens if you're repeating the same information every day.

Then people will consider it white noise.

You're gonna send out your email, you'regonna send out your blog post on your internal internet, maybe it's a call, somake sure you have something important to say something different and it couldbe what I always encourage leaders to do is to highlight some employees who aregoing above and beyond during this trying time.

Maybe it's someone whois working from home, has a you know a lot going on at home, but it's stilllogging in and really hitting their numbers.

You know reallyincorporating the company's core values.

Whenever you can do employee recognitionin these situations people feel better and they feel more committed and theysee that you see all of the commitment and sacrifice they're making to make thejob work and their life work.

So don't feel like you have to create somethingto talk about, but there's plenty of things to talkabout even outside of the specific issue that we're all facing.

Let's try to findthe positives too.

So if you can update what the latest is the companiesapproach and highlight employees, people are gonna feel a lot better about what'shappening.

Absolutely I could not agree more.

You know I think to kind of getvulnerable for a moment here because I think that's the space we're all inright now, our audience included, you know we have a member of our team whohas been personally affected by COVID and in fact attending a funeraltoday and so I think um we can't underscore it enough, check in with yourteam, know what they're dealing with.

Whether they're dealing with it directlyor indirectly, what are their concerns? What are their worries? How are youmaking sure that your leadership team is there to providesupport for them? How are you providing the support foryour leadership team and return? You know I worked in news for a long time and oneof the best news directors I've ever met and had the opportunity to work with, would have counselors to come talk with his reporters and his staff when theywere dealing with really you know difficult issues and so I think we needto think about those things.

We need to think about the mental health aspects ofof the isolation.

We need to think about the complexities of remote working withparents who are also dealing with you know homeschooling and I mean there's somany things to be thinking about here and I know it can feel overwhelmingbecause I get it I feel it too.

You know our this is our youknow part of our core team right here and we're having these discussions, I'm having these discussions in some form every single day and so and I thinkyou know Katie too, one of the things that you and I have talked about istransparency.

I think we have to be really careful.

We need, you know and speakingfor myself, I try to be as transparent as possible with our team so that peopleknow okay how are these clients doing? What is this situation? What is theworkflow looks like but also being guarded in whatever ways that I have tobe so that I'm not taking my anxieties and putting them off onto the team.

Wedon't want this transference of stress to happen either.

I mean I think if wehave a well-functioning leadership team we have certain people who are dealingwith certain aspects you know within the machinery of how the company works andso we're all dealing with you know we're kind of staying in our lane, but thenthere to listen and help you know when we need it, so I think there has to beKatie would you agree there has to be a balance of transparency but also wedon't want like we don't want our interns to worry about the health of ourcompany.

I mean so there's you know how do you recommend thatcompanies kind of balance that? I'm actually a firm believer in tieredcommunications.

So once your messaging is agreed upon within the leadership orbusiness continuity group and it's really important that yourhaving each part of the business before you finalize your messaging.

Confirm withyour CIO, confirm with their head of operations, does this make sense? Is thisreally what's happening because at the end of the day you have to be truthfuland once you have determined the key messages and usually I would say youwant to keep it to between four and five key messages tops, that will be yourconsistent outline for the entire crisis.

Once that happens, I highly recommend youtear your communication and by that I mean have a meeting with yourpeople managers and your managers who are going to then have to turn aroundand be able to answer questions with your front line.

So that to me willreally help the anxiety that may happen if people don't understand your example.

An intern doesn't need to know the same thing that an Operations Manager knows.

It doesn't mean that they aren't valued, it just means it's not helpful for themto get their work done.

So understanding your audience is essential in thesesituations and it can be hard because time is of the essence and so probablyyour initial message has already gone out at this point in this virus stage ofthe pandemic, but it's okay to give your tiered leadership tools to help themwith the with who they're managing.

Create an FAQ that everyone signs off on.

Think of the worst case scenario questions that you might get and haveanswers for them.

They don't have to be the answers to the question, they have tobe an answer that says we hear you, we understand, we know you have thisquestion , we don't have the answer we're working on it and that's okay especiallyright now when as we've said throughout this discussion we know there are somany questions.

Every day we get national and international news that is changingdeadlines.

I mean you know we just got pushed out to April 3rd and then threethree or four days ago we were hoping that everyone would be in a goodposition before Easter.

You know every day I feel like my kid my schooldistrict is sending us some new communication about homeschooling anddeadlines and when will our kids go back and when you can pick up information allof that is coming at us constantly so that is not something to beconcerned about.

What your concern shouldis people in your team are your greatest assets, so let's make sure that they feelgood today and tomorrow about where they work and who's leading them through thisand you do it in your internal communication is what's gonna make thedifference and it's okay just it's really important that I'm gonna say thisagain it's okay to not have the answer.

It's okay.

No one expects you to have everything.

It's better to not have the answer andown that than to say something that you're going to someday have to justifyand take back.

Absolutely Kaite.

Just to jump in, I absolutely love what you'resaying and especially this the tiered approach method of you know there arecertain people that are gonna have more information, there are some people thatare gonna have a little less information depending on what their roles andresponsibilities are within the company, and just to highlight that theimportance of transparency.

So I believe that youknow unnecessarily keeping employees on pins and needles for a long period oftime is not good for morale right.

So we're all on pins and needles right nowon some level so being able to address know that the concerns and the worriesand the fears of employees to the best of your ability from the rightperson.

Maybe that's the executive team the top of the company, maybe that'stheir supervisor, maybe it's you know some mid-level management that isstepping in.

You know I think that whoever that appropriate person or roleis and of course it should probably be coming from different areas from multipleareas within the company, but making sure that those are honest and real but notalarming I think if we choose to inform and not alarm then that will kind ofsteer the messaging that we're sharing with the rest of the team.

Also Ithink this is a really unique opportunity to help leadership make anextra-special connection with their team.

You know we're all going through this atthe same time for the first time through this pandemic so now a leadershipthese companies have an incredible opportunity to build trust you know with their staff and with their team.

They have an opportunity to makeconnections that otherwise they may not be able to haveyou know that opportunity to do so because of the crisis that we're goingthrough.

So well not keeping them in the dark and making sure that you wereaddressing things authentically.

You can also use terms like we and us.

You know Iknow everyone keeps hearing you know we're in this together, but that's true.

The reality is it's true we are on some level all in this together and we areresponsible for our health and the health of everyone else in our familyand community and that really those are the ties that bind right now and so Ithink that if we if a lot of companies and leadership can kind of be inclusivein their messaging and in their statements and maybe you canmake those addresses through conferencing like we're doing.

So peoplecan see you.

They can see their CEO, they can see their manager, they can see thelook on their face, they can see their body language.

You know smile, you knowuse you know put your eyebrows up you know make sure that you're not up heresaying oh my gosh what are we gonna do you're thinking oh you know we're inthis together we've got this will inform you the best of our abilities to thebest of our abilities.

When we have information, we'll keep you updated.

We'rehere for you so just really making sure that those messages are honest, butthey're also positive and uplifting and letting them know that they can trustyou to the best of their ability right now.

And I think in this day and age when you think about you know those methods ofcommunication Stephanie like you said you know using video and really tryingto get you know put your face in front of people.

We're really lucky in a lot ofways that this is occurring now and not you know 50 years from now we or 50years ago, we have so many tools to be able to continue to establish that humanconnection that you wouldn't have if you can't see people face to face.

You knowit feels really isolating and you can feel really disconnected, but it doesn'thave to be that way and I think you know whether it's from an internalcommunications perspective or an external communications perspective, figuring out how to implement some of these technologies that maybe we'venever used before or you know just never had a chance to take advantage of them, they're there.

So figure out how you can implement them to maintain and enhancethat connection to get some of that intimacy that you know we're losing alittle bit right now with the socialdistancing and with some of these quarantine efforts.

I will say becauseit's such a confusing time that if you have a new technology platform that noneof your employees have ever used, now is not the time to launch it.

Use thingsthat people are comfortable with that they expect to hear from you.

I meanwe're all getting better every day that we talk on our online options, butdepending on how large your staff is you know try to keep it to things thatpeople are comfortable with because every little thing that you're gonna dodifferent from normal could alarm people.

So if you all of a sudden are having acompany-wide hand all hands on deck video conference, people might think it'sthe end.

I mean it's at the end of the company and so be a little bitconsistent with how you typically do it and also when you are sendingout invitations if it is a different approach be clear in the invitation, we're gonna try something new, it may or may not work but we're hoping that thisis gonna give us attention you know get us face time that we're not otherwisegetting.

I'm sure every all of us have worked on companies where you'reget an invitation on your calendar and you're like what is this?Why there's nothing in it? There's scary things happening, let's notdo that today.

You know that's we already are scaredabout enough things.

Absolutely I think now more than ever when you send thatmessage of hey let's talk send that message and say hey everything's great, do you have a few minutes to talk? Checking in how you're feeling.

Yes, an over abundanceof caution for sure and also you know couple ideas that ourteam has implemented that may be helpful and if our audience wants to chime inwe'd love to hear what you're doing too.

There are times when I the team probablyhates me for this but there are times when I will say hey this is gonna be avideo call.

I don't care if you're in your jammies, I don't care you showeredtoday, like video call because it really helps our communication and we reallytruly don't I mean you should have seen us all practicing this yesterday makingsure the technology worked and none of us were camera ready and that's okay.

Just to be able to see faces and like Stephanie was saying like you see thosereactions, you can read the body language, you can tell if there's someone youshould follow up with outside of that group call to see what's going on.

I wantto go through some of these comments we have some really great comments here andI apologize Katie and Stephanie I think these comments are gonna cover yourfaces so bear with me here.

Seth Barnhill says yes transparency andemployee communications is always important, but seems more necessary thanever.

Absolutely Seth could not agree more.

Natalie says, great ideas couldn't agree more on the communication and beingtransparent.

I think transparency is really key.

I mean both of you stephanieand katie nailed it and talking about that.

Jill says, great points.

Handlinganxiety is so very important we are all feeling it even if the sources of it aredifferent.

Jill I think that is so huge.

Recognizing what people are goingthrough in their personal lives and that there is no real distinction right nowespecially with everyone at home there it's a very difficult distinctionbetween personal and professional.

We are just all humans dealing with thistogether and we're gonna go through different stages of it.

One of ourclients Joyce Marter is a psychotherapist out of Chicago and shewas on with us live a couple weeks ago talking about the different stages ofwhat people are going through.

The different stages of grief as we'redealing with this and so I think we need to recognize even throughout the courseof a normal conversation that it's not business as usual for any of us.

Couple more quick comments here.

I love this one from Nathan, Farmer by the way, Nathan says as a manager I behave as a duck, calm cool and collected on thesurface paddling like mad underneath.

I thinkwe are all feeling that rightnow and I think that really emphasizes a point as well that as leaders and when Isay leader you can be the intern and be a leader.

You can be a calm cool andcollected you know up top or kind of we have we were joking about the COVIDmullet where we're all like nice and professional up top andthen pajama pants on the bottom or whatever.

It's kind of the same idea withthis duck but you can be calm cool and collected.

So when I talk about a leaderI'm not talking about what position you are in a business either we all haveleadership roles and and strengths that rise to the surface but when it comes tocommunication I think that now more than ever the words we use matter.

Alexis wastalking about this when it talks about branding and messaging and marketing andthe communications we're putting out there externally.

Katie's talking aboutthis when we're talking internally with our teams.

Words matter especially in acrisis especially when there's heightened anxiety.

When I worked in anewsroom I learned a lesson very early on when I was in my early 20s when I wasyou know as an executive producer working behind the scenes so it's youknow it's chaos there are all these moving parts and pieces and thereare times when you're under pressure where you might just kind of snap atsomeone right.

Where you just kind of like oh let's just get it done, but Ilearned that that's when it matters most to stay calm.

When everyone else isfeeling crazy even if on the inside even if you're paddling under the water likeNathan frantically, the more calm and cool and collected you stay the morethat's gonna rub off on everyone around you so you can actually get the job done.

Okay so Seth has a quick comment on before we move to our next topic or I'msorry quick question so Seth is asking, in addition to communicating openlyshould leaders be checking in more now? Asking employees questions like how andwhat they're doing? Stephanie I'm going to ask you that as our operationsmanager.

Yeah and it's a great question and especially because it's coming frommy husband so I appreciate that.

The answer is yes, the answer is anastounding yes.

I feel like it's again really important right now for thatcommunication and you know as Katie and Alexis both mentioned thatcommunication is happening on the right amount right now and I think one ofthose is absolutely encouraging people on your teamto be coming to you when they do have questions and concerns or needs.

That's something we're actually going to be I'm going to be rolling into here injust a moment more so stay tuned but absolutely I think that right now it'sreally crucial that you know especially with everyone working remotely andeveryone is maybe on different schedules now and has different things going on athome and all of these these kind of outside things that we can't controlwithin the company.

That we're making sure we're checking in and againbuilding that authenticity.

Building that trust with them, with the team, to makesure that your team knows hey you know my supervisor or my manager or mydirector they have my back.

They're here for me and making sure that that line ofcommunication that they know that line of communication stays open.

Youknow so even if it's after hours they can still send an email.

Maybe there's a hotline.

Maybe you know there's a different way of communicatingyou know internally through the team but making sure that they know that channel is available and open to them and that they're encouraged, notjust hey you can call me anytime, but that they're encouraged to do so whensomething comes up.

Whether it's you know a crisis with a project you know or justtheir own kind of issues with their calendar or with their availability orotherwise.

Yeah so Stephanie I want to ask you look let's kind of dive intothat now then, do you have some ideas or tactics or things we can do tomake sure that people feel encouraged right now because I have a feeling thiswill be helpful for our businesses but also for kind of the ripple layers inour lives of people to make sure we're checking in on them.

So any ideas on howwe can make sure people feel supported? Yeah and it's in one word.

I have oneword and then I'll stop know one word and then I will share a little bit moreabout it but the word is accommodate.

Again I know we this is something we'vetalked about and Julie or your other guests have talked about many times whenit comes to working with our teams, but right now more than ever being able toaccommodate your staff, your team, is vital.

It's absolutely vital, so be opento the needs of your staff so they can have the flexibility to work when theyare most productive and that's there's something flexibility I mean especiallythey you know us Millennials like to get called out.

I'm an old millennial, we'd like to get called out that we are so much moreinterested in flexibility and working from home and things like that thengenerations prior but it's true and so leverage that.

You know as a leader, as a company, make sure that you are accommodating especially right nowduring this crisis when self distancing and needing to stay home and play theparental role or the caregiver role and in addition to playing you knowthe role of what you do for your company.

It's now it's really important andsome will be available and focused in the morning, you know that's myhusband I can say.

Some might be more productive in the afternoon or in theevening and within the ability and the structure of the company allow that.

You know hear what they're saying.

Hear what your staff is saying and if they'relike listen I'm on dad duty, I'm on mom duty in the morning, it's I can'tstep away from it right now because you know my I don't have someone you'rehelping or whatever that looks like for them.

Just be open and adaptable to thebest you can.

Sometimes things yep there are things that have to happen atcertain times but for the most part really lend that ability forthem to make choices around their schedule.

As long as they're getting thework done.

If they're getting the work done and they're doing good then hey youknow like let them have that freedom and let them build their work day aroundtheir overall schedule.

Plus your staff meaning varying levels of guidanceversus independence right now.

Some might need over communication, some might needuninterrupted time to finish a project, some might need a heightenedorganization and protocol, whereas other staff might need a more flexibleapproach and so that's what you were saying earlier I want to get back tothat is really understand the needs of your team and that it's not all going tobe the same and while you can't have all of your ducks in a row all the time youknow you can't accommodate everyone's needs it on every you know on everyaspect just do your best and let them know you're doing your best because thatmessage is felt more than probably any message they're hearing right now fromfrom the corporate or from the company.

So the bottom line is employees want tofeel that their leaders trust them to manage their work and their home lifeduring this crisis, while maintaining a sense of connection and understanding.

Soask your employees questions.

What they need and what works best forthem and listen to them and then do your best to accommodate those needs andeveryone will benefit.

Absolutely.

I you know I have three kidsand I'm in a circle of friends who all have multiple children who are allworking from home, who did not work remotely before.

So it's been anincredible adjustment for them and everything that you said Stephanie makeseveryone else's lives easier and frankly makes everyone more productive.

I havefriends who are getting up at 6:00 in the morning and working from 6:00 to9:00 because their kids get up at 9:00 and then from 9:00 to noon they're parentand then the spouse is working during that time.

I mean we're all tag-teamingthroughout and then maybe you log back in at 3:00 until dinnertime, you log outat dinner.

So if the companies that are allowing that, are going to end up aheadat the end of all of this.

There's loyalty and it all goes alongwith internal communications, it's all interrelated.

If you feel youremployees taking advantage of it, then you should say something and say listenwe agree to this and you're doing this how can we work together to getthere.

Absolutely you know Alexis I know this is something that you talked aboutquite a bit because we were a virtual agency before this epidemichappened right and so some of these nuances of working remotely and jugglingyou know being at home and maybe getting distracted or thinking about thelaundry or dishes or whatever when really it's work time, those are thingsthat we've all encountered before.

So for us it's maybe a little bitdifferent as we adjust, but I have to point out and Alexis I know you havemore tips on this, I have to point out that for your own sanity you have todesignate work time and home time and even if you are not juggling kids oreven if you know suddenly have all this extra time, work might be a greatdistraction right now.

Awesome dive in, but make sure, I'll tell you whatStephanie tells me all the time because I'm guilty of this even beforecoronavirus was even in my vocabulary I'm guilty of this, make sure that when you're off the clock, you're off the clock.

You needthat mental time to reset for your emotional well-being , your mentalwell-being, but Alexis I know you have some ideas on this too on how you kindof differentiate between personal time and professional time.

Yeah you knowworking from home is such an adjustment and I don't think that you reallyunderstand how much of an adjustment it is until you do it and now you know I'vebeen working from home full-time for about two years now and it's been reallyinteresting for me to see friends and family who are you know now making thischange that otherwise would never have done this you know would never have hadthe opportunity to work from home.

I think that the the advice that I cangive for working from home in the current climate is like you said Julie, to designate not only just work time and non work time, but work space and nonwork space.

You know setting up even if you can't at this point set aside anentire room of your house to be your office, but really setting aside a spacewhere you know this is where my laptop or my monitor or whatever it isgoes and when I'm in that space I'm working and then at a certain point evenif it's just for an hour or a half an hour or whatever window of time, whenI walk away from that space, I'm away from it and I'm focusing just like youwould if you left the office and came home that you give yourself an opportunityto take something of a break.

Not just a physical break, but also a mental break.

You know right now it's a little bit harder you know six months ago I wouldhave said make sure that you're leaving the house and then you're going out andthat you're doing things.

It's harder to do that now, but you still can.

You stillcan leave the house and go for a walk.

You know take the dog out, take the kidsout, take yourself out, go for a walk by yourself.

You know you can like we saidearlier taking advantage of technology.

You know call your friends, FaceTime, callyour co-workers.

You know the people that maybe you sit next to you and you wouldtalk to you all day long, give them a call.

Spend a couple minutes on the phone, check in with them about work, check inwith them about your personal life.

Maintaining those connections are soimportant and it's part of what makes working from home a little bit of achallenge because it can feel really isolatingand at no time more so than right now.

So it is really important to continue tomake those connections in whatever way you can even though it's a little bitdifferent than we you know then you might have done it before, but I thinkthose two things you know setting that space, giving yourself a place to walkaway from, in order to come back to home time and you time and continuing toreach out to people and to make those connections and keep those connectionsboth professionally and personally.

Those things I think will really help howpeople kind of ride this out and weather this storm and feel good about it whenit's all over.

Absolutely and you know from a marketingperspective I want to bring it back to our marketing conversation that we'rehaving as a marketing agency that I think it's also important I mean it'syou know we talked with Laurie Lonsdorf about you know from the small businessdevelopment center, her number one piece of advice was, know your numbers.

Know where things stand.

You know keep an eye on your cash flowright.

So from a business perspective of course we have to know those logisticalthings, we have to have that logical part down, but we also have time right now setaside time and that might mean setting aside space like physical space inyour house but set aside time for the creative part as well because from amarketing perspective if you can step away and take a walk and come backyou're gonna feel so much more creative and think about the time and theopportunity we have right now to look at this big picture marketing strategy.

Tolook at ok COVIDhas impacted and changedeverything about how I'm wording things, what I'm worried you know what we'reactually putting out there and take that take that creative space to actuallythink about it and start putting together it might just be a plan for thenext week.

It might just be a plan to get you through this week, but whatmessages do I need to communicate? What are my business goals to keep mybusiness running, but then what language can I use, betweenwhat Alexis and Katie had said, what words are going to reach my audience?What words are going to be authentic? What words are going to belittle transparent that we can make those connections, but also because likeAlexis you're giving the great example of the influencer when she wasn'ttransparent it looked like she was selling.

When she was transparent, suddenly those sales turned into keeping the lights on for her team and so I'dsay transparency and our messaging, we don't need to be telling people all ofour business and you know insider information, but that transparency andthis is a situation that's affecting everyone and here's what we're doingabout it.

That's what I mean by transparency.

Okay so I have onemore course than for Stephanie, but before I do that, Stephanie I'm gonna pull you up full screen so I can also put this comment onthis screen because this is gonna help us transition.

So Natalie says my managerhas been reaching out to us often just to check in to see how we are doingmentally right now.

She's letting her team know that she's there for useven if wish need to vent, worry, anxiety.

I appreciated that.

She genuinely caresabout our well-being and it has helped.

What an amazing thing and then she goeson to describe the virtual happy hours that they're having as well.

I mean what afun idea.

So Stephanie what I want to ask younext is, we all know that having a thriving company culture is incrediblyimportant.

Obviously there's a different twist on that right now and manycompanies are finding themselves in these remote situations and let'sface it I think some company, some businesses, are just trying to figure outthe technology and that's gonna be a work in progress for a while.

So how dowe also still focus on the culture when we do have people who are in heightenedanxiety, you know heightened stress, health concerns, you know I think likethe mental health issues are at a max.

The financial concerns are probably at amax.

I mean all of these things are at a max.

Plus now we're working from home andtrying to figure this all out.

So what in the world can we do to be able to stillfocus on our people and focus on creating a thriving and not justsurviving company culture.

Oh that is the question.

Oh my goodnessa great question and Natalie I just want to say how awesome that yourleader, that your management, is so in tune and reaching out and keeping thoselines of communication open and doing you know virtual happy hours.

I meanthat is crucial, that is such an example of what many companies andorganizations should be doing right now.

So thank you so much for sharing that.

So workplace culture is always vital to the lifeblood of a company.

Imean studies show it can greatly impact a culture can greatly impactproductivity, a sales, especially turnover and burnout.

Oh my goodness look at ourhealthcare system right now, bless their hearts they're working night and day.

Sowhen employees feel when they are valued, when they feel they're appreciated, whenthey're safe, when they're included, they are more likely to remain loyal to thecompany.

They're more likely to be productive, healthy, so the workplaceenvironment does play a significant role of a company culture, the environmentitself but thankfully it's not the only factor so because right now so many ofus are working remote.

So I have three things I want to highlight as far askind of my top three would be right now and that's one, communicate yourappreciation.

Two, show that you value your staff and your team, your employees andthree, give grace.

So the first communicate your appreciation.

So fromthe top down executive leadership, to two supervisors, gratitude should becommunicated not just one time but regularly to staff and again this issomething that should be happening all the time, but then especially right now whenthere's so much anxiety and depression and fear and worry and strain really andnot just and we don't mean was paying a lip service.

I don't mean just saying heyyou know great job.

I mean really understanding that your team, theyare vital to you.

I mean the best asset of any company are their employeesand they need to feel that.

They need to feel that gratitude, thatappreciation.

So truly noticing the hard work.

Calling people out when they dosomething over you know above and beyond.

When goals are met, celebratingyou know especially if it's it's a big win you know right.

So it's easy to makea big impact in the lives of someone and the lives and the personal andprofessional life of someone by doing very little.

Just reach out.

Make thatphone call, send that message.

I see what you're doing, I'm grateful for your hardwork, thanks for working that extra hour or two hours, thanks forhelping out your colleagues.

It really goes a long way to show that youvalue them so and again this goes back to something we've already talked aboutthat be available and be reachable.

So if your employees have questions andconcerns be there to listen.

They might be stressed out, they you know mightbe trying to adjust to their new their new normal.

Maybe they're not so stressed out, maybe they're doing okay and they're workingremotely and it's going well but regardless just make sure that you'rethere for them, that they know that you're there for them, and making surethat they feel connected, taking care of, safe to the best of the company'sability and the last is give grace.

If an employee makes a mistake right now, ifthey miss the mark in some way, if they you know have an error, show somegrace.

This I mean and let's have grace for all of us.

Not just leadership toemployees, but for our leadership too and for each other, for our friends and ourfamilies.

We're going through something you know that none of us have ever beenthrough in our lifetime and it's scary and it's people are going to lose theirbusiness, they're going to lose their homes.

People are going to get sick andthey already are getting sick and losing live so now is not the time nitpick, nowis the time to give grace and to show up for each other both professionally andpersonally.

We don't know what our colleagues and what our team is goingthrough mentally, emotionally, financially, or physically and a working from homeenvironment so and if they're in health care forget about it.

They're working longhours, probably worried about their own the safety of their own health, and thehealth of their family being on the front lines and being exposed so we'reall trying to adjust to this at the same time while also kind of going throughour own emotional states of fear and anxiety.

So giving grace may beshifting responsibilities to your team if that's something that would help youknow.

Stepping up to help financially if that's something that the company is able to do, but at the very least giving grace for errors andmistakes knowing that the big picture is much more important than that little errorthey made on that spreadsheet.

I mean really you knowwhat's happening right now in the way we show up for each other and the way weshow up for our company and for our colleagues and for our families, thatshows the integrity of the company.

That shows the integrity of the person andlet's show that more than criticizing.

Steph, Ilove what you just said about thinking not just of what's happening in thismoment you know that's one small error, this one small situation, but thinkingbig picture because that and I know one of our Julie one of your speakers thatyou talked with last week talked about that same thing, that this is a long-termsituation so we want to look you know we want to look to the future.

You want tolook you know whether you're talking doesn't matter what you're talking aboutwhether it's internal communications, external communications, and branding, messaging, you know working one-on-one with your staff.

This is a long-termsituation and we're in it for the long haul so we have to be planning ahead andthinking you know forward-thinking and future thinking and that means like yousaid Stephanie you know giving allowing ourselves that opportunity to get usedto what's going on, get comfortable with it, learn it, understand it, and figure outhow we can plan for the future success of our company, our employees you knowbut we don't want to lose sight of the future and it can seem like a reallyuncertain scary thing to think about you know gosh what's gonna come next butreally you know that's what we all need to be looking at.

That's where ourminds need to be, is is long term you know both internally and externally.

Absolutely.

And everything that you both have said, that all of you have said, applies to our marketing as well.

So everything we are talking about as faras communicating with our team we should be doing in some level with ourlarger audience.

With our clients, with our potential clients, with our socialmedia audience, with their email audience, I mean all of these are part of thetactics that we use when it comes to marketing.

I've had so many conversationsthis week with obviously with our clients, withwith other business owners, who are talking about how do they change theircommunications.

What should they be doing right now? Where do they even start and Iwould say that if you're looking for that starting point.

The starting pointis this, making connections and I know we would say that a lot around here becauseit's in our name but it's in our name for a reason because we really believethat marketing is all about the relationships.

It's all about theconnections we're making and now more than ever those connections matter andwe're seeing a lot of backlash as Alexis was talking about a lot of backlash fromcompanies, a lot of major you know brands that have been positioningthemselves that perhaps look like the perception maybe, that they arepositioning themselves for profit instead of for the good of their team orfor the good of their their clients and customers.

That is not the kind ofcommunication you want to be having about your company and as we scale thatdown on to you the smaller local level, what are people saying about you?What are you communicating about your company? What is your mission? what areyour values? How are you portraying that out on social media? Have you gone silent?Have you disappeared and it's okay if you have.

If you need to focus internallyor if you've got you know bigger battles to deal with okay, but just knowthat communicates something about you as well.

Where are you in all of this?How is the community How are you a part of the community? How is the communityseeing your reaction and the more you can make that personal and when I saypersonal again we're not we're not airing the dirty laundry about ourbusinesses, we're not putting out information that shouldn't be out there, but the more we can humanize it, the more we can connect to our audience, thebetter off we're gonna be both in the short term and in the long term becausethere's gonna come a day when we come out of this.

I mean hopefully that's muchsooner than later, but we're gonna come out of this and we're going to lookaround and we're gonna see who showed up.

Nora said that so well when I wastalking with her.

Nora Luke and I just want to bring it backto that because there's gonna come a time when we look at who was standing onthe sidelines? Who wasn't there at all and who really showed up? We seebusinesses that are helping other businesses.

There have been posts insocial media groups of some facilities and restaurants that are shutdown and so now their wait staff are serving as delivery drivers forother restaurants and I mean just this sharing of helping people find jobs, helping people, helping these businesses that are still open to keep running, helping to support each other and that's just one example there are so manyexamples.

In Michigan, I know that Governor Whitmer announced that nowincluded on the Michigan website for all of the COVIDinformation, there's a list of ways you can volunteer without even leaving yourhome, how can you help other people in your community.

So all of these thingsare all and I know I'm throwing a lot out there, but all of these are differentways that we're marketing who we are and what we do including as businesses.

Andif you're at home you are maybe you do have a little time on your hands, maybe for whatever reason, maybe work has slowed, maybe you're out of work, and forthat we really feel for you and we're here for you.

Think about how can you support from your team, how can you support other businesses, how can yousupport your friends.

It might be something as simple as sharing theirmessages on social media.

It might be showing up to help in some way virtually.

To check in on them to see what they're doing.

These are all things that arereally gonna pay off in the long run and and maybe and I think Seth had commentedabout that a little earlier, that there there are things that you can do rightnow that may not be money in the bank so to speak, but you're gonna be able totrade those in, there's a value there and so Steph I really loved what you weresaying about showing people their value.

That can be internally, that can besending a message, that can be sending something a little more and we I have afriend whose husband's company sent you knowthis at home delivery of ice cream sundaes for every one.

Anothercompany that has given all of their employees a $1, 000 to buy officefurniture for their homes while they're working remotely.

I mean so things on asmall scale, things on a large scale, and obviously you know not everyone's in theposition to do that and so but it's just you know ideas ways to get creative toshow that you're there for people and just show that you're there for yourclients.

What can you do to help promote them? Maybe you're just sharing theirposts on social media.

Maybe you're just sending them a quicknote to say hey I saw that you did this webinar or I saw this email that wentout you know you're really doing a great job I know this must be hardright now.

So many things we can do that we don'ttypically think of as marketing, but in fact gosh you guys need to cut me off atsome point cause I'll just ramble all day.

Just the last thing I'll say, I had this a great conversation yesterday with someone who said to me, you know the number one way we get new clients is referrals.

It's all word ofmouth.

I go to networking events, I connect with people, and she said youknow I closed a sale last week and that was that was great, but I really you knowI need to think creatively.

I need to think outside the box on what I'm gonnado now.

Yeah there are a lot of people that Imean everyone's thinking outside the box right now on what to do, but there are ways to still make those marketing connections.

We just have toturn online and look at things a little differently.

Yep.

Absolutely.

Ladies I guess I should open it up to see if we have any other questions.

Thishas been a great conversation.

You guys are really you're killing it outthere.

Thanks for everything that you're doing for mConnexions and ourclients.

Thanks for adding your discussion points.

I'm going to ask youin just a moment for one for just a one-liner from you if there's one thingyou want to make sure that our audience takes away from today.

So real quicklythank You Nathan.

Nathan says excellent discussion and thank you to all of ouraudience for joining in on this discussion.

A lot of really greatcomments and questions here so thank you for that.

So okay ladies I'm gonna do a quick look through a quick round robin.

I'mgonna start with you Alexis.

One thing that you want to make sure our audiencetakes away from this discussion.

I think the one thing would be that nowis the chance like you said Julie to connect.

Now is the chance to demonstrateto your clients and your customers why they support you in the first place.

Now is a chance to earn their trust and their loyalty and to show up and to showthem that you're going to be there and you're going to continue to be there inwhatever format that looks like for them for the long run.

Stephanie what about you? I think my one-liner would be, be present.

Justremember to be present to the best of your ability.

Sometimes we're a littleyou know forward thinking or past thinking but I think right now foryourself, for your family, for your employees, for your colleagues, be present, be engaged, be in the moment, when as much as you can so that way you can beavailable for them and they can be available for you.

Katie.

I think I'mgonna go with be truthful and authentic.

Whether you're communicating with yourown employees, your clients, your potential clients, that's gonna take youthrough this.

Always stick with the truth and be authentic and remember it's okayif you don't have the answers.

I love it and I guess I have to I have to throw onein there too be fair to put you on the spot.

You know I really think and thisgoes back to a conversation I had with one of our guests previously the phrasethat we're in this together sounds cliche, it sounds overused at this point, but if you really make those words matter, if you really believe in that andreally live that right now, then it makes this whole crazy mess that much easierto bear and so and I'll tie that back into marketing.

We're in this togetherwhen it comes to our marketing too because remember marketing is all aboutpromoting who we are so if we're authentic as Katie said and truthful, if we are present as Stephanie said, and like Alexis said if we are connecting toeach other, and that's what we're promoting, then we're winning inour marketing and that's really what it's all about.

So ladies thank you somuch for joining me.

This was you you're all I mean I know how incrediblytalented you are, but really thank you for sharing your time today with ouraudience and really connecting online.

Well thank you Julie.

And thank you Julie for you know leading our team with with such grace andboldness and you know fearlessness and you may not feel that way, but we are sograteful for you and for all that you are doing through these Facebook livesand for our team and for all of our clients as well so thank you.

Thanks StephI don't know about the fearlessness but I've got the transparench part down and it allstarts with the tribe, so thank you so much.

We have two more lives coming up for you today.

In order to best serve our team our clients, our families, we are putting allof our lives on today Tuesday and Thursday and so coming up later today wehave gosh at at one o'clock so just in just under an hour from now and betalking to Vicki Hamilton Allen.

She's the CEO of Habitat for Humanity CapitalRegion.

All of their work has come to a stop.

Talk about a cross marketnonprofit.

You've got the nonprofit world, we have the construction world, wehave the retail world with their with their restore, so we're going to talkwith Vicki about how the coronavirus is impacting nonprofits.

Then at 3 o'clocksome major changes impacting the spring housing market.

So we're gonna talk withAmy Jackson of 517realestate.

com Coldwell Banker, to talk about what toexpect if you were looking to put your house on the market this year.

So all ofthat is coming up later today.

I hope you can join us and we will see you then.

Stay well everyone.

.

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