2011 has been a historic year for natural disasters. From wildfires, flooding, tornadoes and tsunamis, we have seen it all.
Just this month, the 2011 U.S. Hurricane Season began. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced their predictions for the season as being above average with as many as 10 hurricanes being predicted.
Whether an earthquake, wildfire, tornado or tsunami, these natural disasters usually occur without warning. Even in the wake of an oncoming hurricane, the warning time is usually measured in just days.
For companies that provide environmental and indoor air quality (IAQ) services and products these natural disasters often create an overwhelming need for what they do best. Out of the tragedy of nature's destruction can come countless opportunities to help people rebuild their lives and do it in a safe way that prevents future threats to the environment and people's well-being.
These tragedies can create huge business opportunities to help people, but they will only come your way if your business is prepared. For this article we are not talking about being logistically prepared to handle the volume of projects, but rather being prepared to be the one that gets called upon to provide the services or products needed in the aftermath of the natural disaster.
Since we can't anticipate an earthquake, and may only have minutes of warning that a tornado will strike a given area, how then does a company prepare to make their services known when disaster strikes?
The truth of the matter is now is the time to position your company for these events. When a natural disaster strikes there is little time to position a company so it's imperative to be proactive. Immediately following a natural disaster, people and companies begin looking for the type of help your company can provide. If your company hasn't properly positioned itself it may be too late.
So how do you position an environmental or IAQ business for something that hasn't even happened? Here are a few marketing and public relations concepts that can help.
· Online content - Develop information for the company website for dealing with various natural disasters. Posting an article about what to do to prevent environmental and IAQ hazards following a flood can provide useful tips and information for people. If a flooding event does occur it can be a powerful marketing tool for the business. Since it was posted before the flood the search engines have already had time to find your content about this topic for internet searches.
· Online videos- Similar to the concept above, create and post on the company website, as well as on YouTube, online videos about preventing and managing natural disasters. For example an online video created today, when there are no hurricane threats to the United States, could receive tens of thousands of hits when a hurricane is forecast. Also by posting the online video now, people visiting YouTube will see that the video has been online for some time and hopefully has had a decent number of hits before the storm. This can be helpful when someone does a search for hurricane videos and your video shows up with several thousand hits compared to your competitors' videos that they just posted with perhaps only a few hits. Videos with more hits are more likely to be chosen for a number of reasons.
· Marketing Collateral - The time to develop marketing collateral for your business isn't after a natural disaster occurs. These materials take time to be developed, produced and printed. Have materials ready and available to hand out that deal with all the natural disasters found in the areas your company services. A company in Phoenix probably doesn't need to develop post tornado environmental brochures about mold, lead and asbestos dangers. However, a company in Nebraska should have these ready and completed for use in a moment's notice.
These are just a few suggestions to keep in mind to have your business prepared to help when a natural disaster strikes. Natural disasters are a component of our lives and fortunately businesses in the environmental and IAQ arenas are there to help pick up the pieces and help people rebuild lives.