In challenging times, it’s a smart idea to revisit the fundamentals of good business. This April, go Back to Basics with Inman.
As COVID-19 began to cause disruptions to the industry and daily life, email inboxes filled with communications from companies offering a plethora of “what we’re doing” messages.
Although some of the messaging was relevant and meaningful — offering details on new initiatives and direct responses — some of it was word mush apparently intended to help the company stay on customers’ radars during quarantine.
How can you ensure that the content you create right now is welcoming and helpful, whether you’re writing a blog post, creating a video or simply sending an email to your sphere? Here are some guidelines for more effective communication right now.
1. Put the recipient at the center of the communication
Some of the worst COVID-19-related messaging comes from influencers and entrepreneurs who pitch their products and services to a captive audience and make the pandemic all about them.
Now more than ever, communication needs to focus on the reader — their feelings, needs and experiences.
Take a look at any communication you create, and count the number of “I” or “we” statements versus the number of “you” statements. If you’re spending the whole time talking about yourself, reframe the narrative.
It’s not what you’re doing, it’s how you’re creating solutions for your clients. It’s not what you need, it’s how you can fulfill the needs of your community.
2. Focus on empowerment, not fear
The fact is, we are all scared. We are scared of getting sick. We are scared for our loved ones. We are scared about the economic impact of the shutdown. We are scared to touch our Amazon packages.
A focus on that fear is not helpful or inspiring. Reframe the narrative to talk about how people can take action. Offer good advice for handling home deliveries.
Provide a link to a local food bank so that people can contribute. Share your favorite book recommendation or bread recipes, or provide work-from-home strategies that work for you. Be solution-oriented, not fearful.
3. Create concrete, proactive solutions
When you talk about real estate, talk about what you can do to help people right now. Be specific and thoughtful, and offer insights that inspire confidence.
- Outline ways to market properties without in-person tours
- Offer DIY home improvements for those considering selling
- Host a Zoom classroom for first-time homebuyers
- Collaborate with colleagues on a series of virtual open houses
- Host a virtual meetup for investors to explore opportunities
If you have a wealth of financial insight, share your tips for frugal living or budgeting. People are being furloughed and losing months of income. Talk to them about the financial moment they’re living through, and help them develop strategies based on your own experiences.
4. Share accurate information
There is so much misinformation out there, and social media is a clearing house for conspiracy theories, fake cures and other erroneous ideas. Make sure that the information you share is reliable and helpful. Avoid sensationalistic or fear-mongering content.
Here are some organizations that are generally good sources of information right now:
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- World Health Organization (WHO)
- National Institutes of Health (NIH)
- Small Business Administration (SBA)
- State and local health departments
- CDC, WHO and NIH social media platforms
5. Don’t predict the future
No matter which news source you trust or what you read in a Facebook post, you don’t know what’s going to happen next. You don’t know what will happen with the spread of the disease, the stock market or the real estate market.
Although you can offer words of reassurance, don’t try to speculate on exactly what’s going to happen or tell people what they should do.
Offer options, deliver insights, interpret information, but don’t break out your crystal ball and try to predict the future. We’re living through a truly unique situation. Be humble enough to acknowledge that, and be a navigator, not a prophet.
Christy Murdock Edgar is a realtor, freelance writer, coach and consultant with Writing Real Estate. She is also a Florida Realtors faculty member. Follow Writing Real Estate on Facebook, Twitter, Instagr