Remote work is not a new concept but has grown increasingly popular in recent years, even before the COVID-19 pandemic forced many businesses to embrace it, whether they wanted to or not.
Remote work has its benefits, especially related to work-life balance, decreased commute times, and the lack of shared space distractions. However, one recognizable downside is the inherent loss of engagement and the potential for your content across channels to lose its defining display of culture while customers and team members are not able to be physically together.
The saying goes, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” But what if it just makes you feel like it’s harder than ever to engage with your customers or your team while you’re not able to see them face-to-face? Fortunately, we can help you continue to engage with your audience from wherever you are.
Share the Love
At PHOS, one of our core values is love, and it’s a driving force for both the content we create with our clients and the way we treat them from the very first moment we interact. Perhaps you also have love or one of its variants in your company’s core values. If so, use that love to engage your customers, and don’t be afraid to make your messaging as personal as possible. Particularly in difficult times, people will respond to empathy and love more than sales pitches, so let those be the foundation of your messaging.
Make Your Messaging Matter
Our team was fortunate enough to attend the 2020 Global Leadership Summit, where one speaker’s example of love during difficult times stood out. Beth Comstock, a former executive at General Electric (GE), recalled how she remained determined, against the advice of naysayers, to put out an ad after the 9/11 attacks showing Lady Liberty rolling up her sleeves. Instead of using the tragedy to promote GE, she used the ad to show solidarity with the people of New York and the nation.
Similarly, your brand can stand out as a beacon of hope for your customers rather than contributing to the overwhelming noise we’ve seen bubble up amid the pandemic. Your customers will still form impressions of your brand even while social distancing, so your content needs to stay timely and relevant.
Clear to Land
Working remotely means that your online activity increases while your in-person interactions decrease, often resulting in sensory overload and Zoom fatigue. The same is likely true of your customers, so it’s essential to keep your content as clear and concise as possible. Now isn’t a time to bury your call-to-action at the bottom of your page or produce lengthy, rambling blog posts that don’t represent you or your brand well. Cater your content to the shortened attention spans of your audience and let your content get to the point.
Those Who Can, Teach
Business office closures, though hopefully temporary, provide a unique opportunity to pause on creative content and focus on educating your customers. If you’ve been pumping out great, original content for a while through blogs but haven’t done any tutorial videos or instruction manuals, now is the time. New, engaging content in different forms provides an invaluable resource for your customers (both new and old) to get the most out of your product or service. Besides, what good do your best ideas serve without sharing them with the world?
Get to Know Your Customers
Nurture your customer relationships while remote by creating content that introduces you and your team in a more meaningful way. Go beyond the information you’d see on your team members’ resumes, such as their educational background or previous work experience. Use social media posts or emails to tell your customers instead what your team likes to do in their spare time, what books they love to read, what restaurants they enjoy, or share candid photos of your team having fun.
Side note: don’t let it hinder you if you don’t have magazine-worthy photography skills. Being relatable is so much more important than being perfect. Right now, photography is such a powerful tool to reach your customers. All of these seemingly small steps make significant strides in personalizing your business because they make you more than a logo or a building – they make you and your team human.
Leaders are Readers
This advice may seem counterproductive in a blog about creating content, but reading and staying hungry to learn will qualify your content in the long run. The more you hear from leaders in as many industries as possible, the more influence you have to leverage for your business. Make it a habit to incorporate time to read into your daily schedule, and you will find that the lessons you learn through your reading will seep into your content organically. The PHOS team has benefited greatly from adopting this practice.
People in remote work environments often starve for any kind of meaningful interaction. Your social media posts and other messaging can engage your customers in interactive ways. On social media posts, ask your customers a question that encourages them to comment or vote on something or ask rhetorical questions in your blog posts that get the reader to think deeper about a topic. These exchanges make the customer feel you’re talking to them rather than at them.
Get Ahead By Looking Behind
Do you have a favorite customer story, a big account landed, or a time your business worked with someone that stands out as a treasured memory? Now is a great time to look at your company’s past as you look to the future. Highlight these people or stories in your content in a way that simultaneously thanks your loyal customers and generates positive feelings in potential clients.
More people are now on digital platforms, a double-edged sword in that your customers are online but are inundated with digital messaging. A result can be that your blog’s design and content style can sometimes feel static. When marketers reflect on blog performance, we often find that people repeatedly visit site pages but don’t spend a lot of time there. This indicates that even if stellar content reaches people, they don’t actively engage for long. Research suggests that when you connect with what you read, you tend to remember it and successfully apply it downstream.
Blogs are useful in offering this educational content, attracting readers through relevant blog content coupled with intriguing design rather than long bodies of text.
A few examples of these elements are:
- Additional content-related photography.
- Animations communicating blog concepts.
- Expandable sections allowing users to travel through the content.
- Quizzes to help users navigate a creative process based on their chosen answers.
- Captivating digital design.
Consider also diversifying your social content delivery. For example, if you hold virtual presentations rather than in-person public speaking engagements, turn these into opportunities to generate leads by offering attendees an option to receive the presentation materials afterward. Or, try to humanize your Zoom meetings by asking those present to share their best and worst moments they have had in virtual meetings. Acknowledge that these are new forms of communication for most people and are rife with opportunity for mishaps. Have fun with it!
“Highly engaged employees make the customer experience. Disengaged employees break it.”
-Timothy R. Clark
When you think about nurturing your client relationships while remote, don’t forget about the backbone of your organization – your team. It can seem daunting to maintain morale while you are scattered, but there are many actionable ways to stay connected.
Hand Over the Mic
If you can’t include your entire team in your content photography due to working remotely, now is a perfect opportunity to let them take over your company’s social media accounts. They can be the administrator for the day, sharing their perspectives through both professional or personal posts. Not only will this make your employees feel more engaged, but it will also give your customers a holistic view of your team.
Even your team members who have worked remotely for a while can gradually begin to drift and disengage. Take this time to invest in revitalizing your internal culture and finding authentic ways to share it in your content. A few ideas to keep your team cohesive while authentically representing your culture are:
- Host virtual team activities.
- Send remote care packages to staff.
- Create public opportunities for your team to support philanthropic causes your organization cares about.
- Have team lunches via video calls.
The current pandemic aside, remote work may be here to stay. As we traverse these new waters, we will inevitably find, through trial and error, what works and what doesn’t, but one thing is sure – remote shouldn’t equal stale content or disillusioned teams. With a little extra thought, your company can engage your team and your customers in new and inspiring ways.