How to Adapt Your Newsletter Strategy to the Lockdown

Depending on whether your business still makes sales or not

Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash

COVID-19 has had devastating impacts on our lives and businesses. As people globally shift towards a stay-home culture (in most places, at least) in a bid to flatten the curve, businesses also have to take drastic measures to stay afloat. Whether it’s stepping up on e-commerce, tweaking your product offering, or making difficult cost-cutting decisions, this is probably one of, if not the biggest test of resiliency and adaptability.

If your business already has some digital presence, congratulations, you have just a bit of survival advantage — at the very least, you have a means of communicating with your customers. And if you’ve a pool of subscribers and existing customers to reach out to, here’s how you can work the newsletter.

First thing to note, all businesses are affected differently, so you will have to adjust your messaging. In general, you want to follow these guidelines:

  1. Be human, show empathy: Times are hard, so don’t focus on selling unless your business is purely altruistic and your product has obvious benefits. Even then, the tone should be empathetic and the message should be “we’re all in this together.”
  2. Engage, tell stories: People are trapped at home, and your subscribers signed up because they resonated with your brand. Take this opportunity to share more about your brand. Tell stories, use visuals, engage them.
  3. Be relevant: Your product or services may not be the most relevant now but there might be aspects of the business that are still relevant for customers. Share with them your thoughts on affiliated topics and your brand will be top-of-mind when business is made accessible again.

For Businesses That Remain Open and Still Have Sales

Some businesses are not completely affected. Yes, footfall has decreased with movement restrictions, as spending has with fears of unemployment and an impending recession. You still have some sales but it might cost you more to stay open than if you were to take a hiatus.

Your goal is to try and maximize revenue, whether it’s selling more or expanding on your product lines to create new revenue streams.

F&Bs are a great example and might have to tweak their operations to do more takeouts or deliveries. Online retail stores (or physical stores with online sales) that sell essentials or daily items like clothes, household products, or books will also see more online sales.

If your products are highly relevant and essential like groceries and food, demand will be consistently high. Pushing the relevant products, in this case, could be about bundling products that promote a healthy lifestyle, or sanitation products, for example.

If your products are non-essential but are items that people will still use day-to-day, that’s where you share how they can use your goods. The most comfortable clothes for a stay-at-home lifestyle? Yes, please. A sous vide machine to up my cooking game? Yummy. Devices to improve my Wi-Fi connectivity? Thank God!

Yes, you can throw in a promotion to get people to buy on impulse, but remember, the goal shouldn’t be about selling — it’s about empathy, and engaging. So you might want to throw in some home laundry tips, easy-to-follow recipes, or instructional videos to help us get started. “I might already have some of these items at home and these related content would be useful. Although I won’t be buying from you this time, but hey, your content is genuine and so is your brand, so I might just check you out next time.”

For Businesses That Have Little or No Sales, and May Experience a Surge When Restrictions Are Lifted

A lot of small businesses that depend on physical sales are affected. While some might be able to shift their focus online, there are many others that have to close. Quite possibly, they may see a resurgence of sales when things gradually go back to normal.

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Photo by Element5 Digital, Unsplash.

Many retail services fall into this category — hairdressers, mani-pedi, and gyms. Luxury retail will also take a hit. Fancy buying bags and watches only to strut them at home! Events and spaces are another affected group, as people cannot congregate for weddings and celebrations.

In this landscape, you might be out of business, but people will also appreciate you more than ever. The many postponed weddings, the missed opportunities to hit the gym, or to indulge in a manicure are needs that are deprived that long to be satisfied. In fact, consumers might be prepared to splurge more to compensate for their repressed needs.

Although you’re forced to be shut in the short-term, customers still have that need. That’s where you send out the relevant content to keep them excited about what’s to come, and remember – show empathy and engage.

Share DIY workout videos that they can follow and do while in confinement. Give tips on dealing with the postponed wedding guest lists and photography services. Share with them what your company and your employees are doing in this period. The goal is to be there for your customers, and remind them that you’re still around; if and when business resumes, you’ll be there for them.

For Businesses With No Foreseeable Revenue, and Will Have to Wind Down

And yet, there is another group of businesses that might not see it to the end. Whether it is a cash-flow problem or the uncertainty of travel and tourism, there might be little you can do to change the circumstances. There’s no better way than to be transparent about it. Being honest and upfront is a form of accountability to your customers. Tell your story — you might want to share your plight and hope for the best, or perhaps your regrets in closing down indefinitely with hopes of reopening.

Circumstances are that it’s not up to us; as long as you’ve tried and given it all you’ve got, hey, that’s remarkable. You will find your next business or mission to serve people in other ways.

Communicate — Be Honest, Be Sincere

The bottom line in any form of communication with your customer is to be genuine and honest. Regardless of the channel of communication, honesty is the best policy. And trust me, we all get it because we’re all in the same s**t.

To sum it up, if you have a pool of fans and followers, why not engage them with meaningful and relevant content? Be at their top-of-mind and reinforce your brand presence. While you’re at it, remember to be empathetic in your tone and don’t be sales-driven.

We could all do with a bit of niceness in the world right now.

This post comes amidst planning a newsletter strategy for a client. As they’re in the wedding retail services, the downtime is a good opportunity to reevaluate the various revenue streams, to work on content and SEO, and to prepare the team to take the next steps forward. Hopefully, through sharing some of these ideas, other businesses can also take small steps forward.

Written by

I write to clear my mind – with topics from crypto investing and trading, to marketing, and life.

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