Marketing in a Difficult Time: Why Connection is Important

Keats Komisar, Director of Business Development

I guess it’s a cliché thing to say, but for me it’s very true: I love my job! I have worked at The Bridge to Recovery doing marketing and outreach for almost nine years now. For those unfamiliar, marketing is all about relationships, which includes getting out there, meeting people, helping them get to know who you are as a person, making them feel comfortable with you, and letting them know about the facility you represent. Marketing also includes being available to a potential client, such as answering their questions or helping them navigate the sometimes difficult journey into getting help. These requirements often live outside normal business hours, and I think it’s fair to say that most marketers live or die by their ability to be available. But the reward is great: seeing folks in need have access to care.

Living in a world with COVID has made all this almost impossible. No more traveling, hotels, flights, lunches or coffee with clients. Then, the question begs: How do you build and maintain relationships without doing these things? Of course the telephone is an option and sometimes successfully, but it’s been the creation of new relationships that have suffered the most. It’s hard enough without COVID to connect with someone who doesn’t know you or the program you represent to agree to meet. Time is a valuable commodity that people are protective of.

We have all had to get creative with our marketing skills and come up with ways to get information out. Our familiarity with Zoom has grown exponentially. Personally, I’ve had the opportunity to participate in a virtual collaborative Olympics and a pottery creation event. Silly, a bit corny, but admittedly fun, we have all had to go beyond the ordinary to create connection.  And, just recently I received an email invitation for a conference in May.  At first, I thought it was another of the dozens of “online conferences” I have received. But, my excitement grew as I realized this was a real conference with real people attending in person! I think we all took these routine opportunities for granted and we are all excited to experience them again when we can do so safely.

It is my hope that soon I will have my calendar full of appointments for coffees and lunches. I look forward to when I’ll be traveling to Memphis or Louisville and complaining about all the miles I’ve driven.  But, until then, here is my request to you, the referring professional and fellow colleague: Be patient and have some grace with us marketing and outreach folks.  Please consider meeting with us, and know that we will not bombard you – we want to collaborate with you, utilize you as a resource for our clients and vice-versa.  And whether it’s a virtual pottery collaboration or an actual in-person lunch, we are willing to do what it takes to help folks in need.