I can’t hear you

If you have children or an obstinate dog, you know what it feels like to be speaking perfectly clear and simple English, and yet it’s like you are alone in the room. The dog is engrossed in a bone or chasing the cat. Your kid is watching their favorite TV show or has their nose in their iPad or computer game.

You could be offering them a million dollars (or a million bones), and they’re just not on the same frequency. They might not even notice that you’re talking because you’re on the wrong wavelength.

That’s the reality of the marketplace right now. There is no special pricing, no coupon, no financing option that you can offer right now that is going to draw your prospect’s attention away from where they’re focused.

Right now, they’re worried about their job security, if their business will survive the COVID-19 shutdown, homeschooling, finding toilet paper, and fashioning a mask for their next grocery store outing.

Previously we discussed that until they’ve answered these very basic needs, they’re just not going to be receptive to any sales message unless what you happen to sell helps them solve one of the problems they’re focused on right now.

If you’ve been watching TV or been online, you’ve started to notice a shift in advertising messaging. It has moved away from selling, and most of the more prominent national brands are simply saluting everyday heroes like doctors, nurses, and first responders. Or they’ve modified something in their delivery model to better serve their audience during this shelter-in-place economy.

They are speaking to their audience in a way that they can be heard because they’re talking about the same topics that are already occupying the minds of their constituency.  They’re finding the frequency that the audience is tuned into and showing up there.

What frequency should you be broadcasting from? Right now, it’s the community outreach frequency.

You could:

  • Host a drive-through food bank drop off at your location (car dealerships)
  • Create downloadable posters with positive messages that kids could color and their families could hang on their front door (any business that works with kids)
  • Curate easy to cook dinner recipes from within your community of customers (local restaurant)
  • Offer simple mask making instructions along with a how-to YouTube video (fabric store or security company)
  • Collect donations to provide food and shelter for all of the animals being abandoned at this time (vet clinic or pet supply store)
  • Offer your products or services for free for first responders, medical professionals or delivery drivers (just about anyone)
  • Offer free counsel to business owners (attorneys, CPA, etc.)

The key to this act of service is that it needs to be tied to what you do. If you’re a medical supply company, the mask pattern makes sense.

It doesn’t make sense if you’re an HVAC company. But all of us can and should do something. It’s the only frequency our audience can hear right now.

Then, use your advertising dollars, social channels, customer groups, and any other communications vehicles to invite your customers, prospects, and the community to join with you to help. Or, use those same outlets to celebrate and thank our local heroes.

For example, Big Al’s BBQ & Catering is offering free meals to long haul truck drivers since their food options are pretty limited right now. They can’t go into a restaurant, and you can’t take a big rig through a drive-thru. Big Al’s is promoting their generosity on their Facebook page and inviting their customers to help.

How about you – what could you be saying that your audience is ready to hear?

Originally published in The Des Moines Business Record as part of Drew’s weekly column series.