Over the past few days, I’ve received emails from customers asking if it’s okay to run any kind of promotional content during this time of crisis.
We all know that right now is not the time to run a big, flashy launch of a $2,000 online class. (Well, I hope we all know that.)
But what about lower-key promotions? Like small sales, or even, “Hey, I still sell this relatively normal product or service, and I’d love to keep offering it for sale instead of hiding under my table”?
For a lot of people, selling ANYTHING right now seems like a murky gray area.
It doesn’t seem like offering your products or services should be in poor taste, but it can feel like a fine line to walk given the SOTWAP (State Of The World At Present, via this post from Naomi).
But right now… selling is kind of weird.
You’ve probably already seen more than a few promotional emails enter your inbox that make you cringe. These would have been normal, everyday promotions a month ago, but now? They seem… insensitive. Or flippant. Like the seller is out of touch with the mood and tone of world events.
You don’t want that to happen with your emails. But maybe you’re not sure what to do to prevent that.
I have a few ideas that can help guide you along.
1: Acknowledge, but don’t dwell.
It’s important to communicate that you know things are different in the world right now so you don’t end up with the effect created by the La Senza subject line.
But you don’t have to draw EXTRA attention to it. Just acknowledge you know it’s happening by the tone you take in your emails.
This could be as simple as a sentence or two that mentions the specifics of what’s different, especially in relation to the products or services you sell.
Zencastr did a fantastic job of this in a recent email – check it out:
What you’ll notice in that email is that they acknowledged the situation, but kept the focus on their core message and didn’t add narrative or drama.
Do that, and your emails will never get the #tonedeaf hashtag.
2: Shift your positioning to fit different priorities.
Your customers have more than one priority when it comes to the products and services you sell. And when the world is spinning around all happy-bunny, they resonate with one set of priorities.
When the world gets all OMFG, they resonate with different priorities that match up with that vibe.
If you take just a little time to think about what those priorities might be, then you can adjust your angle to be crisis-appropriate.
Here are some examples of different priorities in happy-bunny land as compared to OMFGville.
List Building Products and Services
- Happy-bunny: Reach new markets, make tons of money!
- OMFG: Bring new people in to help keep you afloat
Freelance writing services
- Happy-bunny: Get amazing work done that can help you grow your business!
- OMFG: Peace of mind at having tasks off your plate when it may be hard to get it all done
- Happy-bunny: Have the relationship of your dreams with lots of romance and bunny-making!
- OMFG: Navigating the challenges of close quarters and relationship strain to come out stronger than ever
- Happy-bunny: Have awesome luxury sweet treats and impress your friends at parties!
- OMFG: Send a special gift to someone you care about, or just get a much-needed pip for yourself
- Happy-bunny: Amazing recipes that will make you look like a bougie rockstar!
- OMFG: New recipes to keep you busy and get the variety you desperately need during quarantine
These are just a few examples you can start learning from. Once you make the shift to a different customer priority, the tone you need to take is pretty intuitive from there.
3. Low pressure, easy invitations.
During the happy-bunny times, you can sell your stuff loud and proud, like La Senza was doing in their email. You can say things like “The bra you need NOW”. There’s room to make a bit of a fuss, because people are generally looking for something to light them up and get excited about.
But when we move into OMFGville, a friendlier, more low-pressure tone will get you more engagement from your audience.
If I were re-writing La Senza’s subject line, I would have considered “Stuck inside? You might like this shipped to you today” as a lower-key invitation.
Look at the difference between those two, and you’ll see how just a simple change of approach in the language you use and the way you phrase your calls to action can make your readers feel like you “get” the situation they’re dealing with.
The important thing to remember is that you don’t have to STOP promoting your business.
Many ittybiz owners should still be able to do basic promotion in the midst of this crisis, with some exceptions. (Party Planners being one of those, I imagine – though there can even be room to move there, which I’ll talk about in an upcoming post.)
So much of the world is going on pause right now, but not everyone is. There are still people who need products and services, even when the economy is in a tailspin. Your conversion rate is going to be impacted, maybe even heavily for the short-to-medium term, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that no one will buy.
By incorporating all three of these elements into your promotional emails, you can still get the word out about your ittybiz and what it offers, and not offend your audience.
Good luck everybody! I’m rooting for you.
(Say hello on Twitter!)