“We’ve experienced significant crises in our world over the past several months and while it’s impacted our lives in a major way, it’s also affected the way we market our business too. And how you handle your marketing during a time of crisis is critical.” - Amanda McKinney
I’ve received many questions about how to handle marketing during a time of crisis when things are uncertain and feel out of our control. And beyond questions, I received messages of “Amanda, you should have a podcast episode about how to market your yoga business during a crisis”. So I’m listening and responding to your heartfelt request.
Here’s my 10 step process that can help you navigate your marketing during any type of crisis.
First, we need to talk about what a crisis is and the common threads for all the crises that can arise. While each will be unique and will need to be handled differently in your business, this process can help you navigate the uncertain time in real-time. Save this list, bookmark the social post or show notes page. Do whatever you need to do to have this handy. Because if there’s anything common for all crises, it’s this:
“During a crisis it’s really hard to think clearly. If you can have a process that you can follow it will help guide you to make the best decisions for you and your business. Planning before it hits will help you when you’re in the middle of it.” - Amanda McKinney
Definition of a crisis
Merriam-Webster defines a crisis as “an emotionally significant event or radical change of status”, “an unstable or crucial time or state of affairs in which a decisive change is impending” and “a situation that has reached a critical phase”.
There are many different types of crises so let’s outline the different types so we can break this down and find the common ground between them all.
Types of Crises
Natural Crisis - these are environmental that are generally out of the control of humans. Examples of a natural crisis are a hurricane, tornado, earthquake, tsunamis, flood and drought. Recently, we are experiencing the Covid19 pandemic which falls into this category.
Social/Cultural Crisis - this is any change or event that pushes a government, nation or people into severe pressure that a breakdown of law and order may happen. These are incidents that often lead to dangerous situations affecting individuals and society as a whole. Examples include riots, political issues, terrorist attacks. Recently, we are experiencing the Black Lives Matter Movement which falls into this category.
Technological Crisis - these are due to a failure in technology. This can be a breakdown of your systems as a business owner or tech that’s out of your control. Examples include a breakdown of a machine, corrupted software, and internet issues.
Personal Crisis - these happen in our personal lives and occur when an individual can no longer cope with a certain situation without coping mechanisms. Examples can include loss of a loved-one, social or familial turmoil, and medical emergencies.
Commonalities of all Crises
As we look at the different types of crises we can experience as human and business owners it can feel overwhelming to plan for them all. But the great news is that you don’t need to break them all down because there are some commonalities among them.
According to Wikipedia, the defining characteristics of a crisis are:
They are unexpected
It creates uncertainty
It is seen as a threat to important goals
“When we look at all the types of crises to see what we need to plan for, we need to plan for an unexpected event that will lead to uncertainty in our minds and our business and that will feel like a threat to our goals. So we need a plan that we can implement quickly and with as little emotional-decision making as possible” - Amanda McKinney
10 Plan for Marketing During a Crisis
Step 1: Pause, listen and observe
As a yoga teacher, you know a lot about the nervous system. Please use this to your advantage because when a crisis happens our minds and bodies go into “fight or flight” mode. And the fact that you’re running a business and it’s a recipe for stress and for your brain to say “I have to act now”. This comes from a great place because you care about your students and your business so you want to take care of it all so you feel like you need to act fast. But fight this instinct and pause. Meditate. Listen and take in information. Observe what’s happening and do your best to take a step back and let your emotions calm down. The best thing you can do for you and your business is to pause, listen and observe before making any decisions.
How long should you pause?
This depends on the crisis situation. If you’re running into a tech issue that’s affecting your business and costing you money, take a minute to take in the information and then meditate. This may only be a few minutes but it’s still important to pause. If this is a global crisis that’s affecting more than just your business, your pause may be a few days instead of a few minutes.
Regardless of how long you pause, please don’t share any marketing messages while you do this. Hit pause on any marketing that you need to so you can make an informed decision.
Step 2: Think about your audience and what they need from you
So often we will jump to the thought of “I have to do something” but the most important thing you can do next is to think about what your audience needs. Does your audience need to hear from you during this crisis?
Maybe everyone on social media is sharing but is it critical for you to post right now?
Maybe everyone is starting a GoFundMe account to donate to crisis centers but is that the best way for you to serve your audience?
Maybe your staff is telling you that you need to stop everything to email your students due to a system error, but unless you know that it affected all of your students, is it best to email everyone?
Maybe you feel like you need to share your personal story with your student but do you really need to share all the details?
Remember, you know your audience and the brand that you’ve been working hard to create. Your next steps need to be intentional or you could do more harm than good with your marketing.
“Take time to check in with your knowledge about your audience and think “how should I show up for them at this moment? How can I support them best?” - Amanda McKinney
You could find that through this process you recognize that you, personally, want to do something in this crisis but your business doesn’t need to be the vehicle to communicate this message. Do you want the message to come from you or your business? As a yoga teacher it’s hard to distinguish between the two but there’s a difference between sharing a post on your social media channel and posting an update on your website. Decide which is best for you and your audience.
Step 3: Consider your options and assess the timeline
As you took time to pause and think about your audience, you were likely thinking of options for what you could do. Maybe you saw what others were doing already, maybe you have new ideas, maybe you have no idea what to do but you know you need to do something. This is the step where you look at your options and determine when you need to make a choice. You need to tell your brain that it has space to make a decision. Give yourself space to decide on the path that’s best for you and your business.
If you find yourself highly emotional, talk to someone else who knows your business enough to ask questions. Share with them what you’re thinking or where you’re feeling stuck and have them help you walk through this. This is