While it’s been officially declared that a government shutdown won’t stop Obamacare, a shutdown it still remains. But more to the point, shutdowns like this aren’t just exclusive to the government. Businesses (even small ones) can have room for their own politics, which could lead to similar outcomes.
Of course, office politics are generally viewed in a negative light. However, it’s also something you will be ignoring at your own risk. Its influence extends even all the way to your customers. It doesn’t help that companies in the financial services industry are stereotypically portrayed as places where office politics are the cliche (case-in-point, 50 Shades of Grey).
But while it may not just be the job of marketing to put the politics in their proper place, it can be crucial to controlling a negative effect like a shutdown in one of your services. For example, suppose something happened that resulted in you laying off even some of your best people? Don’t think your customers won’t be worried about the quality of your services.
In times like these though that you can look to actual government for some examples:
1. Be honest about what will be stopped
Just as Obama points out the immediate effects of a government shutdown (e.g. the closing of national parks, understaffed support centers etc), you have to admit that some services will be unavailable in your company for the time being.
Everything from your website to your social media accounts need to make this clear. Don’t just put a sign that says it because it won’t say it all. Give at least a decent explanation that doesn’t sound like a cover-up story.
2. Insist on what is still available
On the other hand, you shouldn’t make it look like you’re about to go business! For those unfamiliar with U.S. government shutdowns, it sounds like the whole thing is a set-up for anarchy. In reality, it really isn’t. Essential services like social security and Medicare operations will continue.
Likewise, there should be services in your business that are still available so you won’t disappoint all your prospects and customers. The important thing to do though is to use your marketing strategies to highlight these current services and draw attention away from those that are closed.
3. Give progress reports
Remember, you are only drawing away their attention temporarily until you fix the problem. A shutdown in some of your services shouldn’t normally be indefinite (unless your business model has a solution for that as well).
Everyone should be informed on the state of the shutdown. Notice how some of news networks even have a timer for how long the shutdown continues. There should be something similar for your business like periodically notifying your audience on what you’re doing about the situation.
A shutdown due to office politics may sound scandalous, but they’re a reality (just like the dirtiness of actual politics). The best you can do is to assure this reality doesn’t hurt your customer’s business as much as it does yours.
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