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If you were already hosting live events, given the global pandemic and resulting lockdowns, you’re now faced with the new reality that you cannot gather your audience together in person. At least for the foreseeable


So, how can you recreate a very similar experience in the online world? With the incredible breadth and depth of technology available today, it’s perfectly feasible to simulate an experience almost as good as in person.


There is no amount of sophisticated technology that will ever take the place of live, in-person meetings. We can look into someone’s eyes, read their body language, get a sense of their ‘vibe.’ The next best thing is video. And, especially live video.


If the idea of doing more videos is scary to you, you’re not alone! Most people really don’t care to be on camera. But it really does just take practice, practice, practice. Now is the time to push through those modest fears and go for it. We’re all in this together.


I’ve been doing video trainings and live streaming for 15 years and I absolutely love it. I feel very connected to my audience. But it wasn’t always that way. I was super shy as a child.


How to Plan


Consider creating a series of online streaming events/webinars. Take the body of work you would’ve been sharing at the live event and chunk down into lessons. If you were having guest speakers at your live event, you can still invite them to be a part of the virtual event.


Start with the end in mind. What do you want to accomplish? Is this a one-off webinar for the public? Or, a private training for your top clients? Will you be on camera? Is it a free or paid session? Answers to these questions and more will determine your set up.


The Tech you Need


Decide on the tech you’ll use. (See my list of resources below.)


If this is new territory for you, aim to keep things super simple at first -- maybe simply doing a Facebook Live with your phone into a private Facebook Group. Or, perhaps you’re familiar with Zoom, which is a great choice.


To go more high tech, use your webcam or a DSLR camera hooked up to your computer and stream via a third party app (details below). I have a whole list of recommended video gear available here.


The Approach for Promotion


Create a registration page on your website. And/or a Facebook Event on your Page.

Or, just drive people to register on a Zoom Webinar. Or, you could use Eventbrite for registrations.


Send out emails to your list to join the webinar/live stream. Publish invitations to register on your social media posts. And, paid media is totally fine now, too. The key element is if your webinar/live stream is relevant and helpful to your audience right now. Depending on the content, it may make sense to wait a month or so if it’s not vital right now.


Be very organized and clearly communicate with your audience -- emotions are running high around the world just now, and the more you can present a nice, clear path forward for your audience to learn from you, the more successful your online event will be.


How to Reach your Community


This will be one of the most important aspects of your webinar or live streaming video. People will be craving connection more than ever during this time of isolation.


Perhaps this is a good time to start a Facebook Group, if you don’t have one already connected to your Page. I particularly enjoy using groups on Facebook to build connection and add extra value. I run separate, private Facebook groups for all participants of my online courses. And, I run a larger group open to the public to provide value and make periodic offers.


Don’t Forget: Follow up


Again, keep that nice flow of communication going. Send out the replay by email. Connect with your audience in the Facebook Group. Encourage peer support. Be sure to answer all questions. Consider doing a follow up to address FAQs. Conduct a post-webinar survey and invite candid feedback. Run a poll in your group and find out what else your audience would like to learn from you.


Resources for Conducting an Online Event


Virtual Meeting Tools









Live Streaming Tools for Facebook (and other Social Platforms)









Video Tools


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About Mari Smith


Often referred to as “the Queen of Facebook,” Mari Smith is considered one of the world’s foremost experts on Facebook marketing and social media. She is a Forbes’ Top Social Media Power Influencer, author of The New Relationship Marketing and coauthor of Facebook Marketing: An Hour A

mari headshot.pngDay. Forbes recently described Mari as, “… the preeminent Facebook expert. Even Facebook asks for her help.” She is a recognized Facebook Partner; Facebook headhunted and hired Mari to lead the Boost Your Business series of live events across the US. Mari is an in-demand speaker, and travels the world to keynote and train at major events.


Her digital marketing agency provides professional speaking, training and consulting services on Facebook and Instagram marketing best practices for Fortune 500 companies, brands, SMBs and direct sales organizations. Mari is also an expert webinar and live video broadcast host, and she serves as Brand Ambassador for numerous leading global companies.


Web: Mari Smith or Twitter: @MariSmith


Bank of America, N.A. engages with Mari Smith to provide materials for informational purposes only, and is not responsible for, and does not guarantee or endorse any of the third-party products or services mentioned.  All third-party logos and company names mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners and are used under license from Mari Smith.


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© 2020 Bank of America Corporation.


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For businesses of all sizes, but especially for small businesses without large cash cushions, the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) will be enormous, affecting cash flow, sales, jobs and business survival rates. communication plan pic.jpg


As a small business owner, I know how, where and when I communicate with my clients during this crisis will greatly influence how my business will fare during the crisis and when it is over.


Take a moment to go over this small business crisis communications checklist to help your business remain healthy.


1. We are here! We are here!


In the words of Dr. Seuss in Horton Hears a Who, you need to let your customers know you are still running your business and making every effort to keep your services/products available any way you can. You can’t assume your customers know you’re still operating (even in a diminished capacity), so make sure you tell them right away what you’re currently offering and that you’re working on a longer-term game plan.


Emailing your customer list is likely the quickest and easiest option. If you send out a regular e-newsletter, include your message in there as well.


2. Going on hiatus?


What if your business is closing—temporarily? Some businesses will have no choice but to close their doors. I’ve gotten a lot of emails from retailers announcing they’re closing for several weeks. All have mentioned their websites are still operating and many have eliminated or reduced shipping fees. If you’re in retail, now’s the time to ramp up your e-commerce business, and email marketing, again, seems like the fastest way to spread the word. Also consider social commerce, selling via your social media channels. 


3. What should be on your website?


Where are your clients going to check first for information about your business? If you said your website, you are right and so you should have already posted information about any changes to the business such as new store hours, delayed deliveries and the best way to reach you. It’s also a good idea to acknowledge the crisis, offer advice and words of comfort. To be really helpful, post links to resources for more information on the crisis.


4. Email to stay in touch


After your initial outreach to your customers, it is imperative you keep the lines of communication open. If you’ve been communicating primarily by email, continue to use that channel. If you’re open for business, whether you’re selling products online, meeting with clients via telecommunication tools (Skype, Zoom, etc.), or selling food via takeout or delivery, consider emailing your customers and clients weekly. Customers will be bargain-minded, so offer incentives and promotions to persuade them to buy.


Many people are encouraging consumers to help out local businesses by buying gift cards now, for use later. This gives the businesses an influx of cash. So make sure you offer gift cards and visibly promote them.


Think about what your customers want to hear from you, in addition to discounts and other promotions. Can you offer information to help get them through the next few weeks or months? My hairdresser already texted me instructions on the right way to trim my own bangs. Depending on the type of business you operate, consider offering relevant tips, such as how to be productive working from home, tech tools, ways to entertain the kids while you work, best music or movies to help pass the time, favorite recipes, exercises, etc.


Consumers are stressed right now and would welcome hearing from a familiar business owner once or twice a month.


And make sure you let your customers know when you might be open for business again. When my dentist called to cancel my upcoming appointment, they rebooked me for a month from now, but added they’d be in touch with regular updates.


5. Start a dialogue on social media


Isolated consumers will be turning to social media for news and to make social connections. Start with the social platforms you usually use to engage you’re your clients and customers. But explore other social channels to find out where the conversations are. Ask open-ended questions to get a conversation going and make sure you answer questions customers have for you.


What you do not want to do is act the expert on the coronavirus. Refer people to the CDC website for the latest information.


6. Get creative


Now may be a good time to try communication channels you haven’t used before. Consider live streaming to show customers how to use your products, starting a podcast, or beefing up your YouTube channel.


What about holding virtual meetings with your clients over video chat, especially if your customers want face-to-face interactions, or you need to show charts or other visuals? Consider hosting webinars so you can interact with many of your clients at one time.


How are you planning on keeping communication going with customers during this global pandemic? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.




About Rieva Lesonsky


Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the Rieva headshot.pngblog A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah./servlet/JiveServlet/downloadImage/38-3367-416250/Rieva+headshot.png/servlet/JiveServlet/downloadImage/38-3364-414071/Rieva+headshot.png


Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.


Web: or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here


Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide materials for informational purposes only, and is not responsible for, and does not guarantee or endorse any of the third-party products or services mentioned.  All third-party logos and company names mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners and are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky.


Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2020 Bank of America Corporation

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