During uncertain times some short term thinking is warranted and even necessary to get us through. It's natural to want to buckle down but don't let short term thinking overwhelm you. This crisis will have an end and when it does you must be ready to build momentum fast.
"Pandemic is not a word to use lightly or carelessly. It is a word that, if misused, can cause unreasonable fear, or unjustified acceptance that the fight is over, leading to unnecessary suffering and death."
Those are the words the World Health Organisation used when they declared COVID-19 a pandemic.
Since then 16 days have passed and I hazard a guess that you will have witnessed and quite possibly experienced fear, anxiety, uncertainty and possibly confusion around the mixed messages that are coming at us practically every hour since.
If you're a small business owner or an independent professional impacted by this pandemic (who isn't?) you will almost certainly feel trepidation about the immediate and short term future.
Will my business survive this?
How will my livelihood and my family be affected?
What will life look like for me and my family over the next few months (maybe years)?
All very human and legitimate concerns.
At the heart of this is a sudden drop in revenue and availability of cash. You may worry about having to stand down staff, not being able to meet payroll or being unable to pay the rent.
For anyone who started their business after the GFC (and even for some who were already in business at that time), this is uncharted territory. Some short term thinking and planning is warranted.
I scheduled time with my accountant this week and that has been time well spent. At least I now know what actions I have to take that will give me the best chance of getting through the next 3-4 months.
If you feel you need some guidance with your business finances, make it a priority to schedule some time with your accountant.
Once you understand the financial best and worst case scenario you can begin managing the situation.
How can I navigate this time and be ready to rebuild momentum as soon as this crisis comes to an end.
As I mentioned in my post last week - there are actions you can take today that will multiply many times over when the market recovers.
Slow Down to Speed Up
Keynote speaker and Author Ann Handley talks about slowing down to speed up. With many of us being forced to slow down we have an opportunity to make time to think about what actions we take today that will benefit us many times over when things stabilise.
Set some time aside to ponder the question as to what would help you generate momentum when that time comes?
(Re) Engage and Grow Your Email List
An up-to-date email list is a valuable asset for your business and is key to reaching an audience of engaged contacts who know like and trust you.
Think about the type of information your ideal client needs and searches for at this time and create resources around that. I've seen some great examples ranging from Kids at Home Activities Ideas to working from home resources and online wellbeing classes (like yoga and meditation).
A word of warning; there's plenty of rubbish out there too. Be sure to build real value into whatever it is you're going to publish. As I wrote last week, it's never okay to exploit hardship for ones' own advancement. Now is the time to be generous and above all ethical.
Still sending your marketing emails via outlook? If you are serious about growing an email list, your regular email client isn't going to cut it. Now is a good time to consider some free or low costs tools that are available today. Adopting an email automation tool will deliver significant efficiencies if you want to 10X your marketing.
Not surprisingly, Social Media use is seeing a very sharp increase. This is a great time to build you share of voice. I'm part of a couple of Facebook groups and the engagement and support in some of them is absolutely outstanding.
The main thing here is to show up consistently and refrain from promotion and selling (that applies to both the group facilitator and the members) . The most engaged groups are the ones where the group administrator is active every day.
Managing a Facebook group requires a great deal of commitment but if you are prepared to consistently "show up" you will build an engaged following that can significantly increase reach and awareness for your brand or services.
Welcome to a Zoom Enabled World and the awkwardness of seeing our mugs starting back at us. Zoom's founder Eric Yuan added $2 billion to his net worth this year as companies' come to terms with "social distancing" directing their employees working from home.
Where would we be without platforms like it at this time?
Video is the most powerful medium right now for building trust and fostering human connections. Now is the time to embrace it in your marketing and your sales.
Weathering the Storm
Challenging times may also present us with new doors to walk through. By remaining open to these opportunities we can give ourselves a chance to weather the storm better than we had hoped.
Marketing is all about finding solutions to our ideal clients' problem. In order to manage this time, we must be a part of the solution so that when the economy recovers, trust is high and we can accelerate quickly. Keeping any momentum will help you bounce back faster when the crisis ends.
Remember tough times don't last and this too will end. Even though most of us will experience economic pain, the actions we take today may help us turn stave off long term suffering.