FREE CHECKLIST FOR HURRICANE SEASON
Do you have a marketing plan in place for Hurricane season? Many businesses don’t think about marketing at such a time, but having a plan in place helps you, your employees, your customers, and your suppliers. In this article, we will address a few scenarios and how to best navigate the stormy waters of disaster marketing.
If you are a business/service that plans on having storm preparation goods or services, now is the time to:
- Discuss with your team an action plan that details how and who will be making announcements to your customers and the community
- Inform your customers that it is storm prep time and how you plan to be their solution throughout the season. On Facebook, create a note about this information and pin it to the top of the page as often as necessary. You can unpin during a sale or other marketing campaigns and repin when those are completed
- Give your employees and customers instructions on how they can stay in the loop with you during this time
- Notify your supply chain of your activities and any back-up plans
- Research who provides area storm coverage and disseminates information about resources so that you have these contacts easily accessible
- Plan for chaos during prepping. Will you need waterproof signage to direct traffic to keep things orderly? Will you need umbrellas/safety vests/ponchos for your entire team and maybe some volunteers? (Imprinting these types of items reinforces authority of the situation, provides a helpful impression for the customer, and hopefully helps those items find their way back to you.)
- On your computer and phone, create a gallery of images of the products you have so that you can post about them without having to stop for pictures. You can include images of your shelves full, half full, and empty to give a visual reinforcement of your stock.
If you are a business/service that plans on closing, you too can pre-plan your marketing strategy.
- Discuss with your team what work can be done remotely and exchange back-up information
- Create an Action Plan so that each team member knows their role in securing your business before your team leaves
- Make sure that more than one team member has access to social media channels, email systems, and voicemails so that messaging can be updated
- Draft messaging now so that when closing time is eminent your team already has agreed-upon verbiage. The messaging can be directed towards:
- employees, which includes information about what their out-of-office messages should say (voice and email), and have instructions about checking in and emergency contacts
- customers, which includes any information about services and expectations. Making your customers a priority will reassure them that you were calm and thoughtful in your departure.
- vendors. Yes, even a brief email to vendors can be just the thing that keeps them from writing a bad review or black-listing your account.
- Give warning that you are closing. If you have a five-day lead time that you are in a hurricane’s path, and you are staying open for two more days, let your customers know what services you will have during those two days and who will receive priority for those services. Share any adjusted hours of operation (staying open an hour or two may give your customers the support they need and they will remember this after the storm).
- Give updates about your return. If you are out of power and cannot update social media, have a trusted out-of-state friend log in and post updates with agreed upon messaging. Your customers may have power while you do not, but they will feel put-out if they try to access your services only to find out you are closed or have limited products/services. Updates can help reduce frustrations, and you can hope that your communications to customers beforehand will guide them to read your updates.
What did you learn from emergencies in years past? Did you have a lot of callers asking you how to use last year’s equipment? Did you have people asking for information that had to be hunted down? Try to create a resource so your employees can easily answer questions. If appropriate, place common FAQ’s in a special “Storm” section of your website, prominently placed on the front page for people to access. Use tools, such as alternative voicemails, auto-responding messaging, even consider hiring out-of-state answering services to manage your calls. Share the information about these efforts with a reassuring tone, e.g. “We want our customers to have peace-of-mind so please access our website’s “Storm FAQ’s”, and guide your clients through the system in a way that gives them a positive experience while allowing you to complete your task at-hand.
CORPORATE CITIZENSHIP DURING STORM SEASON
Want to make a difference and make a marketable impression? Think about what MillerCoors does during relief efforts (whether a natural or man-made disaster) – they turn their breweries into water bottling plants. They use their branded cans and fill them with water for first responders and those seeking relief. They then share that information in nationally-aired commercials, in videos on their social channels, send press releases, and work to be prominently featured in local news “feel good” stories and storm coverage. Those images are replayed at their Investor meetings and as examples of Corporate Citizenship. All of these marketing moments help to reinforce the MillerCoors’ positive corporate image while they provide amazing relief and kindness.
What impression can your company make? Printed sandbags, free flashights, free ponchos with your Company logo, free “care kits” for shelters in reusable bags from your store… imagine what you would need if the storm left you without power for a day, a week, a month, maybe longer. Your solution can be practical and memorable.
Another way to boost your impression during storm season is to support responders. You can sponsor or partner with groups, such as those who take care of out-of-state power line workers or nonprofits that answer the call for help. Doing your research and establishing your willingness to help before a storm allows you to calmly react to your community’s needs and, yes, you can establish a sponsor-recognition plan with the group you are sponsoring before the need arises and emulate what the brewers do to show your company’s commitment and dedication to your customers, community, and investors.
KNOW AND USE YOUR MARKETING TOOLS
Now is the time to explore your marketing tools, not when the storm cone swings your way. Did you know you can have drafts in Facebook? Or that you can use scheduling, Go Live, and boosting to maximize views? You can use tools, like Mail Chimp and Constant Contact, with pre-drafted storm campaigns for things like tools, prescription reminders, closing dates, and more. Are you using auto-responding, signature lines, and recording alternate voicemails?
If you or your team would like to discuss your Action Plan, schedule social media training, or review messaging efforts, contact AMM for a consultation.