I’ve been reading discussions about how MSPs should market themselves in the landscape thrust onto us by the COVID-19 pandemic. There’s a risk inherent with marketing following a disaster. It’s all too easy to have one’s efforts come across insincere, heartless, and slimy. But on the other hand, good marketing aims to add value, and it’s clear that MSPs’ services are needed by businesses impacted by COVID-19, so it’s important to get the message out there.
In a previous blog I wrote entitled ‘Lights Out – Public Relations Following a Network Outage’, I discussed a simple but powerful methodology for public relations in a crisis:
Years ago, I attended a seminar about dealing with public relations crises. Speaking was James Hoggan, a public relations expert who’s worked with some of the biggest brands in Western Canada. Mr. Hoggan’s approach to dealing with a public relations crisis was so simple, and made so much sense, that I’ve never forgotten. His three step process is:
1) Do the right thing.
2) Be seen to be doing the right thing.
3) Don’t get #1 and #2 mixed up.
Mr. Hoggan’s main point was that too many companies jump straight into Step #2 without doing their due diligence with Step #1. If the public thinks you are more concerned about maintaining your brand’s perception than fixing the problem, any make-good efforts will come across as insincere and will exasperate the damage already done to your brand. You really need to emphasize doing the right thing, and you need to do so genuinely.
Just a couple of weeks into this terrible pandemic, I’d be surprised if any of my readers hadn’t yet seen a company jumping straight into step 2. I’ve received too many emails and seen too many posts from companies with insincere messaging about COVID-19; they’re nothing but thinly-veiled sales pitches and it comes across the same way that people who buy bushels of Lysol Wipes do.
So…what does “do the right thing” mean for MSPs in our strange current environment? Over in the IT Pool Party Slack Channel, I thought Arthur Dodd from Blue Collar Computing had a great suggestion:
In the short-term, doing the right thing by cutting licenses and other revenue-reducing measures may seem counter-intuitive. But it’s a good bet that taking such a radically pro-customer perspective will be remembered in the post-Corona world, resulting in loyal customers and increased referrals. Arthur really nailed it by being proactive in terms of doing the right thing and then demonstrating that value in a sincere way.
In a crisis, it’s essential to be mindful and conservative with your brand’s messaging. A little emotional intelligence will go way further than a hard sell.