organizational mid life crisis
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COVID-19: Customer needs have changed. What now?
March 20, 2020

Navigating Your Business Through COVID-19

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This is an unashamed pep talk –

but perhaps not the one you were expecting. We need to move past awe, fear and paralysis – we need to stop looking at the shock value news coverage and look for the facts, the silver linings and positive signs. It is clear that this is going to be a long journey. Let’s start planning. 

First - rightly or wrongly, this pandemic caught us off guard. While hindsight is 20/20, we have our eyes and hearts on the future. But before we do, let’s take a deep breath and vent about the truths that have unfolded: 

  1. We have likely not hit the bottom. Despite our efforts as a Nation, there is a two-week delay on benefits for actions taken today, and many wild cards at play. We should anticipate more people being infected, more local closures and more global impact.   
  2. Restrictions will likely become longer, and possibly more rigid. If we see they are working, we will want to do more. If we see they are not working, we will want to do more. 
  3. This will leave a mark. This situation has highlighted the best and worst of humanity, and will forever change how we behave as consumers. We are tired (and somewhat ashamed) of the toilet paper memes, but it does speak volumes about humans.  

Okay. We said it. Breathe in. Breathe out. Accept what we cannot change, and have the courage to implement what we can. Below are 6 best practices to follow for your organization’s COVID-19 action plan:

Act   

Fool me once… While the pandemic caught us off guard, shame on us if the impact does. You can’t wait this out. Every single game piece has changed  - your market, your employees, your channels, your product, your consumers. This is not the time to pause and ride it out. This is time to react and make changes.   

 

Context

Over the past few weeks, we have had to consider our place in the global community, the items that matter most to us for survival, our faith in our government, and our commitment to our community. We are different now. Sure, we may go back to our pre-COVID-19 selves when the dust settles, but the more likely scenario is that this situation has permanently altered our trajectory. How does that change the relationship between your customers’ needs and what you offer? How does that change how you position your brand?

 

Show Me  

There is a reason that thousands of songs equate love with what we are willing to do for each other when shit hits the fan. The shit has officially hit. Consumers are waiting to see who will live up to the promises they were wooed with and they will be unforgiving of those who turn up empty-handed, or even worse - reveal an opportunistic, selfish plan.  History and consumers do not look kindly on those who capitalize on our dark moments. They do remember those who step up. 

 

Transparency  

It will get better - but it is a veritable gong show managing supply chains, deliveries and quality right now. That is ok. Do your best, and set honest expectations with your customers. Overpromising and under-delivering will disappoint and rattle an already exhausted consumer.

 

Mission vs. Offerings

If your mission was sound before the pandemic, your journey will still be the name. That said, the specific consumer needs you solve on the way to achieving your mission may have evolved - and you need to evolve with them.   How do you need to tailor your products and services based on new needs.  

 

Scalpel vs. Cleaver 

For those crunching the numbers, it will be extremely tempting to cut all marketing. Don’t. Please. Maintaining the exact pre-COVID-19 media and messaging is not going to work.  You need to spend differently - with different consumer outcomes and different media choices. You can stay afloat, and even gain ground with your consumers. Turning off the lights will leave you in a hole that will be disproportionately hard to dig out of.   

So, what now? What should your specific business do? Good question. Give us a call. We are helping our community in best way we can right now, and offering free consults to get you started.   

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By Michelle Bell

Chief Marketing Officer