5 Thoughtful Strategies for Advertising During the Pandemic

If you’re like many people, you’ve probably been more conservative in your spending lately.

Recent research shows that, during the pandemic, many people were rationing food to save on expenses and grocery runs, and 23% of people were eating more plant-based meals. Discretionary spending has decreased, and consumers are shifting to digital solutions and reduced-contact channels to receive services.

On a larger scale, consumers worldwide say they expect the pandemic to affect their routines or spending for at least two to four months.

A Shift in Content and Scope

In recent months, many companies have shifted the scope and content of their marketing efforts as well.

Instead of pushing products and promotions, proactive businesses have focused on building relationships and adding humanness to their brand, including inspirational direct mail newsletters, heartfelt emails, and down-to-earth videos.

In one example, eBay championed small businesses that power the nation with its “Stronger as One” ad. Other companies highlighted safety changes and customer convenience options, like this “Call In / Pull In / Pick Up” curbside delivery ad:

“During these challenging times, we are here for you. We are making changes moment by moment to ensure the safety of our customers and employees. And what matters most is doing this together, for the community that we all call home.”

A Vision for Marketing Beyond COVID-19

Beyond connecting and empathizing, what is next for marketing beyond coronavirus?

For starters, you’ll need a commitment to move forward. Research shows that 92% of consumers believe brands need to keep advertising. Ads offer people a glimpse at a prosperous future or something hopeful to look forward, and your marketing gives people a welcome taste of distraction, entertainment, and normalcy.

Also, if the firms competing against you have lowered their ad output, now is a great time for you to invest more. As others scale back, your ads are more visible, allowing you to gather leads with a lower cost-per-acquisition.

And even if the economy seems shaky, pulling back now may actually lengthen the time it takes you to recover. If you need to tighten expenses, don’t turn off your marketing. Instead, look at ways you can rethink intake, client services, or business expenses in general.

Need some concrete marketing ideas? Here are five types of ads to consider:

1. A Product Focus

Showcase how your product is safe, accessible, or helps people strengthen their health or physical well-being.

2. A People Focus

Show prospects you care about them and that your business is standing with them during this time. This Fitbit ad offers its premium package for 90 days to help people work out at home, manage stress, and eat and sleep better during COVID-19: “Thank you for doing what you can. We’re all in this together.”

3. A Values Focus

Here you might feature positive company values or champion the solidarity and togetherness of your community.

4. A Nostalgia Focus

When things feel uncertain, old songs or vintage photos can bypass the brain and connect straight to the heart.

5. A Humor Focus

While being sensitive to people’s pain, you can still connect with your audience through humor during challenging seasons. Encourage people to laugh at their weaknesses or make the most of this strange season, like this Ben & Jerry’s “Netflix and Chill’d” campaign.

Though it may seem counterintuitive to up your print output today, now is the time to invest in a strong comeback after COVID-19.

With today’s carefully crafted message, you can ahead of shifting customer needs and shape people’s long-term expectations. As your partner in print, we are open, and we are ready to help! Contact us today to visit more.

Generate Leads with a Winning Sales Letter

Are you looking to entice a new lead or land a big client?

Today’s marketers know direct mail is an especially persuasive medium. According to 2018 direct mail response statistics, direct mail offered a 9% response rate to house lists and a 4.9% response to prospect lists. And one of the most potent tools of the trade is the good old-fashioned sales letter.

Want to grab attention with a persuasive, relevant, engaging letter? Here are a few tips:

Start with a powerful hook

If you want readers to make it past the first sentence, your first paragraph must arouse curiosity, evoke emotion, or resonate with a problem or pain point of a specific individual.

People can’t finish what they don’t start, so the opening sentences must be rock solid.

Make your sales letter look like a regular letter

The most relatable letters are those that feel personal.

For a more casual effect, use script font or type-writer styles like New Courier or Prestige Elite.

Write with a conversational tone

Use personal pronouns and write for one: I, the letter writer, am talking directly to you, the reader.

Avoid the pompous business-memo style or fluffy ad-speak. Be friendly, natural, and specific.

Use skim layers for easy reading

Underline phrases and indent paragraphs for emphasis, or use asterisks, bullets, dashes, or arrows to make reading more efficient.

People are turned off by long blocks of text, so keep your page design lively and your language succinct.

Use benefit loaded subheadings

Improve reader response by including precise user benefits that match your target audience.

Hikers have little interest in buying boots. What they want is dry, blister-free feet. Remember, people don’t buy products, they buy better versions of themselves.

Make it about them

Focus on readers and their needs rather than your product and its features.

For example, instead of highlighting “our high-caliber bookkeeping software,” try something like this: “Account for EVERY CENT with smart, secure book-keeping.”

Add colors or borders

The most important information in your letter should leap off the page.

Can you highlight a paragraph in yellow? Add blue “handwriting” font in the margin? Put a box around copy that absolutely cannot be missed?

Use a specific call to action

Explain what you’re selling, what it can do, and how they can get in on it.

Add discount offers, expiration dates, or “magic” marketing words like irresistible, no-obligation, flash sale, hassle-free, guaranteed results, buy one get one, free trial, or last chance offer.

Tell and Sell with This Winning Combination

There is an old saying in direct mail: the letter sells, and the brochure tells.

In any direct-mail package, combining a letter and brochure can be an especially powerful combination.

Ready to get started? Save time and trouble by partnering with our experienced team! When you’re ready to move ahead, we’ll help you create stunning pieces that make your message shine. From initial formatting to direct mail packaging and delivery, we’ll do the heavy lifting and streamline the entire process.

Visit us online or give us a call today to talk options!

Why Direct Mail Marketing is a Brilliant Investment

When email marketing began around 1978, its low cost, speedy delivery, and great response rates made marketers wonder if direct mail would disappear forever.

Today, that couldn’t be further from the truth. An overload of digital messages has caused open and click-through rates to decline substantially, and many spam filters and firewalls block emails altogether.

At the same time, a volume decrease in traditional mail has allowed direct mail marketing to rise to the top of the mailbox, being noticed, read, and responded to more frequently.

Need proof? Here are some stats to consider:

  • According to the Direct Marketing Association’s 2017 Response Rate Report, direct mail offered a 5.1 percent response to house lists and a 2.9 percent response to rented lists across all direct mail formats. (In comparison, the 2017 response rate for all digital channels combined was 2 percent.)
  • Eighty-five percent of consumers will open a piece of mail that catches their attention, and more than 40 percent of recipients read the entire piece.
  • Ninety-two percent of Millennials are persuaded to make a purchase decision based on direct mail as opposed to 78 percent who are influenced to purchase through email marketing. Sixty-three percent of these direct mail responders said they had made a purchase in the last three months.
  • Consumers of all ages are 22 percent more likely to purchase products promoted through direct mail than they are products advertised through email.
  • Eighty-two percent of Millennials say they read direct mail they get from retail brands, and 54 percent said they enjoy looking through print catalogs they receive in the mail.
  • Forty-nine percent of Millennials use print coupons at retail stores, with three out of four making use of grocery inserts found in direct mail or the newspaper.
  • Branded products, on average, get a 1,300 percent ROI from direct mail.
  • Direct-mail packages generate 78 percent of all donations made to nonprofits.

Direct Mail’s Superior Advantage

If digital marketing is easy and inexpensive, why does print marketing continue to dominate?

Studies show that the physicality of print creates a “deeper footprint” in the brain: an enduring emotional connection for those who connect with it. In fact, MRI imaging showed a higher rate of brain stimulation for those reading content on paper, which shows our minds automatically perceive physical materials to be more genuine. One advertising study found that consumers recalled print ads better than digital ads and had more emotional responses to print as well. Heightened emotion leads to higher perceived values, increased product desirability, and greater follow through when it comes to inquiries and purchases.

Are you ready to craft the right message, for the right people, at just the right time? When you want to make strong connections with your prospects, an ink-on-paper sales letter or direct-mail package will help you spark interest, generate leads, and boost response rates.

Streamline the Process

Maybe you want to try direct mail but you’re not sure where to start. When you’re ready to move ahead, we’ll help you create stunning pieces that make your message shine. From initial formatting and to final ordering and delivery, we’ll do the heavy lifting and streamline the entire process.

Overcome barriers today with memorable, actionable mailings!

Pack Extra Meaning into Your Message with Strategic Color Combinations

Of all the elements of design, color is probably the most challenging to understand.

Color originates from a light source that is viewed directly or seen as reflected light. While colors can be displayed in spectrums, prisms, or contrasts, the power of colors is not only in their arrangement, but in the way we perceive them.

Want to add depth to your message? The colors you choose can add an extra layer of meaning.

Colors Prompt a Specific Response

According to Sally Augustin from Psychology Today, research shows that particular colors can prompt measurable responses.

Here are the impacts of five particular colors, and how you can use them to your advantage:

Green

Seeing the color green has been linked to more creative thinking—so greens are good options for pieces featuring innovation, creativity, artistic specialties, or proactive growth.

Red

People featured in front of red backgrounds are generally seen as more attractive when silhouetted against other colors, so reds are great for photo backdrops, booklet covers, headshots, and more.

Having a red surface in view also gives people a burst of strength, so reds are good choices for concepts related to fitness, acceleration, competition, and courage.

Violet

People tend to link greyish violet with sophistication, so these hues can be a good selection for places where you’re trying to make a stylish impression.

Try subtle violet/grey hues in designs for home apparel, personal products, product labels, and more.

Yellow

Yellow is associated with joy, happiness, optimism, and energy.

This color stimulates mental activity and generates muscle energy. Yellows are great for stimulating appetite, implying freshness, or for conveying warmth. Yellow also screams for attention, so you can use it to grab interest. Avoid overdoing it by adding yellow in contrast with another color.

Blue

Did you know that people are more likely to tell you that blue is their favorite color than any other shade?

Blue is a great choice for design, especially with so many shades to choose from! Nature-themed blues can call forth feelings of calmness or serenity, and are perfect for striking a tranquil tone. Turquoise or royal blues can project stability and reliability, which is strategic for brands that want to communicate productivity or security.

One caution about blue: it is not very appetizing. In the world of cuisine, humans are geared toward avoiding blue as it is often a sign of poison or spoilage. Some weight loss plans even recommend eating your food off a blue plate to squelch hunger!

Color Your Communication

Color is a powerful communication tool and can be used to signal action, sway emotions, and even influence physiological reactions.

The right use of colors can play an important role in conveying information, creating moods, and influencing the decisions people make. Be strategic and add extra meaning to your message with dynamic, powerful color combinations.

Prepare for Your Next Breakthrough by Prioritizing Self-Care

There are many seasons in life.

Some are exhilarating, others exhausting. Some bring immense growth, and others deplete you.

Just as there are seasons in nature, there is continual change in our daily lives. Many of us were caught off guard by the coronavirus, and our questions about the future can be more depleting than the uncertainty of this day.

But wisdom takes the long view, and that means prioritizing personal health so you can endure and thrive tomorrow.

From Crisis to Recovery

As you move from a season of chaos to a season of recovery, self-care is one of the most important things you can do. What might this look like? Here is a checklist to consider:

Set a Routine and Prioritize Consistency

Since so many things are out of whack, daily routines are more important than ever.

Create expectations for yourself and your family by involving them in daily cleaning, cooking, recreation, or school responsibilities. Make room for relaxing and fun activities, and build quiet space into your calendar. Posting a new weekly schedule for everyone can make life feel more fun, productive, and stable.

Spend Time Outside

Enjoy the outdoors every day, whether it’s a walk around your yard or sitting under an umbrella on your front steps.

The outdoors will refresh you. Even opening the windows can bring an invigorating breeze and a gush of energy.

Cultivate Joy

A lot of what we hear and see these days is scary and troubling, and there is power as we move in the opposite spirit.

Whether it’s a YouTube video or a hopeful song, find one thing each day that makes you smile, laugh, or feel good. To double the impact, share your positivity with others. A joy shared is multiplied!

Reach Out

Perhaps the last few months have left you so frazzled you haven’t made time for others.

Isolation is very dangerous, increasing your risk of mortality, prompting quicker cognitive decline, and inflating your pessimism about the future. People need people, and sometimes YOU need to be the one who makes the first move. Reach out to others through emails, video-conferencing, a driveway coffee date, or a long walk.

Control What You Can

While it is natural to worry about the future, anxiety can carry you away.

When uncertainty tempts you to fret, counteract that by concentrating on what IS in your control. Can you deep-clean your storage room, re-arrange furniture, or start a wood-working project? Bringing order to chaos is a wonderful antidote to stormy emotions.

Help Others

Research shows that helping others is a great way to help yourself.

When recovering from a season of stress, one of the best ways to recover is by lifting others up too. Can you donate money, supplies, or time to a non-profit? Deliver groceries or a “favorite” pampering item to someone who isn’t expecting it?

When you are stressed or afraid, one of the most powerful things you can do is to find someone who is worse off than you and serve them.

This Too Shall Pass

COVID-19 has prompted a season of isolation and stress like many have never known.

It is scary to think of living like this forever, but remind yourself that it WILL end, even if it takes a long time to rebalance. Just like seasons pass each year, this time of testing will pass as well.

There is no “right way” to take care of yourself, but it crucial that you do it!

Customer Service Stories to Make Your Heart Smile

“Well done is better than well said.” (Benjamin Franklin)

After months of social distancing, today, people are craving a personal touch more than ever. Companies that go the extra mile remind us of an important truth: people are valuable. Businesses that genuinely care about their customers will express it, and clients will reciprocate with a loyalty that lasts.

Looking for inspiration? Here are three heart-warming stories.

Lego Understands Children

Losing a toy can be devastating to a child.

Lego recognized this and personalized their response in an unforgettable way. When Luka Apps lost his favorite Lego figure (Ninjago’s “Jay ZX”) while shopping, he wrote an apology letter to Lego, begged for a replacement, and said his father had warned him about taking Legos outside.

Lego didn’t just replace Jay; they surprised Luka with something special. A customer service rep named Richard responded quickly, telling Luka he had talked to (Ninjago Spinjitzu Master) Sensei Wu:

“He told me to tell you, ‘Luka, your father seems like a very wise man. You must always protect your Ninjago minifigures like the dragons protect the Weapons of Spinjitzu.’ Sensei Wu also told me it was okay if I sent you a new Jay and told me it would be okay if I included something extra for you because anyone that saves their Christmas money to buy the Ultrasonic Raider must be a really big Ninjago fan.

“So, I hope you enjoy your Jay minifigure with all his weapons. You will actually have the only Jay minifigure that combines 3 different Jays into one! I am also going to send you a bad guy for him to fight! Just remember, what Sensei Wu said: keep your minifigures protected like the Weapons of Spinjitzu! And of course, always listen to your dad.”

Richard’s response was so creative it went viral. Lego surprised Luke and won the hearts of families worldwide.

B. Dalton: Placing Customers Above Competition

Is your company truly focused on customer satisfaction?

B. Dalton (a bookseller later acquired by Barnes and Noble) was famous for its relentless customer care. One Christmas, a mother was shopping for a book her son requested. An employee scanned the computer and found the desired book was in stock but still packed.

After unsuccessfully searching the storeroom, the employee returned with an apology. Disappointed by her inability to help, the worker then called a competing retailer, reserved the book for the customer, and printed directions to the other store. Reader DD Moffitt was stunned by this consideration. While B. Dalton missed the sale that day, it gained DD’s loyalty for life.

Trader Joe’s: Turning a Problem into a Party

One evening, a mother and son were grabbing groceries at Trader Joe’s.

The boy (as boys are known to do) was bouncing off the walls. He ran loose from his mother, escaped to another aisle, and almost ran over an employee. The embarrassed mother moved quickly to apologize, but the employee said they were all used to it, and that shopping with children was kind of like “a dance party on the floor.”

With that, he started dodging and grooving and called several fellow employees to jam along.

They asked the shy child to join in the freezer section party, and soon the whole store was laughing. By making light of a tough situation, Trader Joe’s made this an unforgettable day.

It’s All About People

Business is about relationships, and customer service stories are wonderful because they illustrate kindness in action and spark new ideas.

Enjoy these illustrations and allow them to inspire you to take your own service to a higher level.

Selling the Vision: The Passion Behind the Product

In 1948, Richard Stack started Dick’s Bait and Tackle with three hundred dollars borrowed from his grandmother.

As the store expanded into sports and retail, Richard and his son Ed learned many lessons. Ed says one impactful memory came during a moment that tested his father.

One day a little kid walked in the store and wandered over to the baseball section, then grabbed a glove and bolted toward the door. An employee nabbed him as he reached the parking lot and dragged him back inside. The employee was yelling at the child when Richard Stack intervened. He looked the little boy up and down and laid a hand lightly on his shoulder. From his ragged clothing, it was clear that this child came from a family with limited resources.

“Why’d you steal the glove?” Stack asked.

Tears streamed down the child’s face as he squeaked, “I just want to play baseball.”

Stack nodded. “You can’t steal,” he said. “No matter how bad you want something, you cannot steal it. I want you to promise me you’re not going to do this again.”

“Yes, sir,” the kid said.

“Ok,” said Stack.

Then he walked over to the baseball section of the store and had the boy pick out a ball and a bat to go with the glove.

“You go play baseball,” Stack said, “and stay out of trouble.”

Because Richard recognized the value of his own youth sports experiences, his business was always a major proponent of individual kids and youth sports initiatives. In the early 1960s, Richard went on to expand the Binghamton, NY Little League program from 60 kids to 240. And eventually, Dick’s Sporting Goods began donating over $20 million a year to school sports programs nationwide.

Casting Customers in the Starring Role

Every kid dreams.

Ed Stack says this is something Dick’s keeps in mind through all their business decisions today. When a parent comes in to buy his or her kid a baseball glove or soccer cleats, they are buying more than equipment; they’re buying a dream of joy or greatness for their child. And Dick’s expands that vision to entire communities, leading a “Sports Matters” giving campaign with this storyline: “Every Kid Deserves a Chance to Play.”

Selling a vision is very different than selling a product, and it’s much easier. A vision is about a customer who sees themselves as the main character of your narrative. Here customers see what they could achieve through the vision you create. This starts by highlighting the challenges or problems of their current situation: potential they could tap into, dreams they want to achieve, or opportunities they may be missing.

Inspiring brands always lead their messages with an idea. For Dick’s, a core idea is that sports make a huge difference in the life of a child. Whether your idea is a belief to change the world or to encourage social responsibilities, your core belief will draw like-minded people to your brand. And when this vision engages the customer, they begin to own it for themselves.

Selling the vision isn’t about functions or features; it’s about showcasing the possibilities. Instead of selling rain boots, sell a world without soggy feet. Instead of selling coffee subscription services, sell the aroma of blissfully fresh beans at the doorstep each month. Instead of selling bats and gloves, sell the dream of children who have a place to belong.

Paint a picture of the desired reality and offer a road map for achieving it.

5 Tips for a Successful Video Conference

Generation Z is the demographic cohort born between the mid-to-late 1990s and around 2010.

Affectionately known as “Zoomers,” Gen Z individuals are technologically advanced (having never seen a world without internet), perceive information best through visuals, and absorb tons of new information daily. Zoomers are quick to learn and adept with technology, which is something we’re all being challenged to do in this pandemic season!

Best Practices for Managing Meetings Remotely

Perhaps you’ve recently become a “Zoomer” yourself: video-conferencing for the first time or managing the majority of your business remotely.

Whether you’re a tech pro or you are brand new to online meetings, everyone faces video-based communication challenges. Here are a few tips to make your online meetings a bit better:

1. Put Your Best Foot Forward

Often when we’re at home, we get a bit slumpy with our hygiene.

Before your meeting, take a minute to freshen up and to inspect your viewing area. Make sure the light is shining toward you (not from behind you) and that you sit in front of plain walls or more simple backgrounds. Some platforms will also allow you to enable HD options and click a “touch up my appearance” feature, which can smooth out wrinkles and blemishes in a flattering way.

2. Test in Advance

Before starting your meeting, preview your audio settings.

If you’re just using your laptop speaker and microphone, there’s not much to adjust. But if you’ve got a mic-headset combo you’d like to use, make sure it’s the audio is selected for both the Speaker and Microphone options before you start your call.

3. Have Participants Mute Themselves

When people aren’t speaking, their microphones can pick up minor background noises like chewing, sniffles, or typing.

Even laughter from meeting participants can break up the audio flow, so ask people to mute themselves whenever they’re not talking.

4. Designate a Moderator

The 2019 State of Remote Work report found that interruptions and being talked over are two of the biggest challenges for remote meetings.

To maximize group discussion, it’s best if a moderator calls on people individually and asks others to hold comments unless they indicate they’d like to speak. Some software has a “raise hand” feature, or you can establish on-camera signals that indicate when participants are ready to share. Chat boxes can also be used to type comments.

Finally, consider saving 10 minutes at the end of the meeting for additional comments or questions.

5. Have Some Fun

Part of the enjoyment of work is social connections.

“When you are used to being in person and have to be online, build in room for chitchat,” says Erica Kuhl, a consultant who has devoted years to nurturing online training communities.

Research shows that if employees don’t have a rich, welcoming online experience, their long-term engagement will drop significantly. Leave 15 minutes at the beginning of meetings for participants to introduce themselves, to share a personal highlight, or to enjoy some lighthearted banter. By building this in, you’ll have a more productive meeting overall.

Video Conferencing is Here to Stay

Now that we’ve gotten a taste for video conferencing, it may be here to stay.

Eighty percent of executives say video conferencing is taking over as the go-to form of internal team communication, and some predict that 50% of people will work remotely after 2020.

Being on top of your video conferencing game is essential, so use this season to master the technique, and you will reap the benefits in the future.

Escape the Productivity Pit by Taking Control of Your Email

Are you starting to feel trapped in a “productivity pit?”

While your mobile phone is supposed to make you more accessible and productive, it can also complicate your day, leaving you frazzled and weary. While the world is adjusting to new work-from-home scenarios, the increasing emphasis on new technology can often make workdays worse, not better.

While you may not be able to change your current working situation, you can take control of something that dominates the daily landscape: your email. DMA data from 2019 shows that the average number of email addresses owned by consumers is 2.5. Researchers estimate 132 billion business emails are sent daily, and American workers will receive an average of 126 emails every 24 hours!

5 Tips to Beat Back Your Email

Many people are drowning in digital messages, and it is not uncommon to find accounts that contain 50,000 messages. How can you beat back the tidal wave? Here are five tips to get started.

1. Change Your Mindset

Inbox overload is not just a traffic issue; it’s a priority issue.

Did you know that 84% of people keep their inboxes open all day, and 70% of emails are opened within six seconds? Many people claim to check their email and chat apps every six minutes or less. If that doesn’t stress our minds, it will undoubtedly tax our emotions.

To avoid digital overload, start with this truth: email can be a distraction that limits effectiveness.

2. Set Response Time Expectations

Because 63.5% of people say they expect an email response in one hour, reducing your email check-ins could cause unexpected conflict.

To set boundaries around email use, try using your “out of office” reply feature to let people know you will be away from the screen and when (or if!) they should expect a response. This can alleviate tension and also decrease the FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) that sparks you to check in so often.

3. Use Labels to Prioritize

Sometimes people feel pressured to deal with messages immediately, so they don’t get overwhelmed.

A better option is to use labels and a separate inbox to separate important from non-urgent messages. Scan your account once or twice a day and add the label @processing to any messages that need attention. Then collapse your regular inbox so you can’t see incoming messages.

Focusing on the priority list will heighten efficiency and decrease stress.

4. Draft Template Responses

Since it’s impossible to ignore or file each message, sometimes it is helpful to create a template of canned responses.

This may include apology notes, responses that hand off a request to your team, promises to follow up, or soft redirects to your website or FAQ page.

5. Pair Your Calendar with Your Follow-Up

Because some emails might require more than a simple reply, consider filing mail needing follow up in subfolders dated at the start of each week.

Then add the corresponding task to your calendar and include the folder location and date to remind you when a response is required. Dated weekly folders help clear your inbox and make for quick reference when you need to recover a task or a conversation. Dated folders can also allow you to delete timed out messages as a group, rather than deleting them one by one.

Redeem the Time

Email is many things, but a timesaver it is not.

If you work 260 days per year, AOL Jobs estimates you will spend 73 days doing nothing but staring at your inbox.

There is a better way! Set boundaries around your email so you can live with less stress and more freedom each day.

Leading with Empathy During Uncertain Times

COVID-19 is officially a pandemic, and millions of Americans are working at home.

Even if you aren’t sick, you feel the impact of this pandemic. As the coronavirus has spread across the globe, the CDC has made drastic recommendations on social distancing, self-quarantines, and statewide “stay at home” mandates.

Through this unprecedented season, what are some of the best ways to navigate your professional challenges?

“I Feel Your Pain”

Empathy is one of the best starting points.

Defined as “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another,” empathy allows you to comprehend what another person is experiencing or to put yourself in their position.

Empathy is the ability to perceive a situation from another person’s frame of reference, and possibly to experience the emotions that go with that. Empathy is different from just “being kind” because empathy is a powerful tool that allows you to truly understand points of view that are vastly different than yours. A person leading with empathy is more aware of overworked employees, overtaxed customers, or solutions that another person may overlook.

The benefits of empathy are huge. A recent nursing study showed that nurse managers who were perceived as empathetic could boost vitality and thriving environments in their teams. Empathetic leaders can communicate better with employees and customers, build bridges of trust, and can facilitate optimal employee performance and compliance. And this brings exponential gain: organizations with engaged employees have higher productivity, profitability, customer satisfaction, and loyalty.

Empathy in leadership can manifest in many ways with regard to the coronavirus response. Here are just three:

1. Be Calm

During any crisis, people need their leaders to remain calm and to empathize with their thoughts or feelings.

While you may not share the emotions of your customers or employees, it’s ok to acknowledge feelings of anxiety or stress. When possible, share resources that promote facts, not fear (like information from the World Health Organization or the Center for Disease Control), in order to help people intellectually interpret the outbreak.

2. Be Flexible

With many people working from home (with kids in tow!), some employees may struggle.

Leaders should be considerate of missed deadlines, unforeseen health emergencies, and emotions bubbling near the surface. Remember, things are not “business as usual,” and special times require special considerations. Above all, flexible managers are consistently leading AND responding. Simply directing employees to available support resources can make a huge difference.

3. Be Available

Not everyone is empathetic by nature, so this is a great time to check your own heart.

Examine yourself daily and ask: Am I really listening? Am I taking in others’ points of view? Ask for feedback from people you trust or solicit comments through neutral channels. Or set up work-from-home chats where people can share tips, information, advice, or inspiration as everyone adjusts to a new normal.

Natural routines can also go a long way toward building confidence – consider morning huddles, or regular conference call “office hours” to offer an open door for people in their most vulnerable moments.

Be Positive and Proactive

Still not sure how to show grace?

Perhaps the best strategy is to change your perspective. Instead of prioritizing outcomes or objectives, use this time to focus on your own leadership. Ideally, you should be a coach, a therapist, a sounding board, and a support system to your employees. Allow people to chat candidly and comically, and make room for a few failures.

Create margin during this roller coaster, and everyone will benefit!