Instead of another “how to deal with this situation that no one knows how to deal with” post flooding your feed, this is a post about not always having the answers. But having the bravery to keep showing up and talking — and the confidence in self to trust your honed instincts.

For the first time since perhaps since 9/11, we are standing still as a nation. Brought together by a situation that will touch us all, to varying degrees. This moment calls for transparency. It calls for the style of leadership that doesn’t puff its chest and proclaim to have every answer. It calls for vulnerability. Because the things YOU are feeling… others are feeling, too.

Feeling scared? Join the club. Anxious? Everyone is right there with you. Maybe a little angry (and then guilty over that anger) over the massive disruption to your life? We are there with you.

Yet, every client we’ve talked to over the last couple of days is feeling somewhat paralyzed in the face of continuing to talk to their customer base. No one has been through this before and no one knows what’s coming, so there’s a sense that no one knows exactly what to say. To be sure, no one knows quite the right way to say it.

Here’s our advice to you: lean into your humanity and, by doing so, deepen your customers’ relationship with your brand. It’s important to not stop talking right now.

There’s no one perfect thing to say, but the WAY to say it is with compassion and truth. It’s okay for a business to say, “We know life feels different for everyone right now. But we want to keep doing business, in all the ways we know how, without compromising anyone’s health.” It’s okay for a business to say, “We’re not sure what you want to hear from us right now, but we want to keep communicating. Our relationship with you matters.” The key is actually saying something when it matters most, which is now.

Ask for people to support you, if they can. Ask for people to give you feedback on how you can support them.

Feeling at a loss about how to go about this? Here are some tips:

  1. Take notice of all the COVID-19 messaging that’s coming through your inbox or your feed, but don’t feel like you have to do what everyone else is doing.
  2. Check in with yourself. While you are not the brand, you influence the brand voice when you write, so ask yourself: What am I afraid will happen if I communicate the wrong thing? What do I wish I could be saying to our customers/members? What am I wanting to hear from the brands I love?
  3. Pull out those brand values and commit (or recommit) to spending 3 minutes every morning thinking through how you can live those values in the coming day.
  4. Just write. You won’t publish everything you write, but there’s value in just putting it on paper. It’s a great place to start.
  5. Find an objective buddy (ideally, a marketing professional) that’s outside your organization, to bounce ideas off. The worst place to find yourself during a quarantine is in an echo chamber. (No outside marketing buddy? Call up your friends at Willow. We’re happy to chat.)

Looking for more? Check out our list of practical tips for how to communicate during this crisis.

Keep an eye out for more communication from Willow. We’re committed to following our own advice, so we’ll be continuing to talk to you, with ideas and advice for navigating this challenging situation.

Leslie Lewis

Written by Leslie Lewis

I believe every client deserves our very best work and our most honest advice. Never anything less.