This isn’t my first time dealing with a national disruption to business operations. I started my first website design company, CyberCreations Design Center, back in January 2000. By early 2001 I had built a book of business that spanned the eastern quarter of the United States from New York, NY to Jacksonville, FL. In early 2001 I became pregnant with my daughter, that summer I quit my corporate job and began working solely from home.
By early August 2001, I had completed a comprehensive online financial analysis tool for an investment firm, located on the 75th floor of the North Tower of the World Trade Center. I submitted the invoice for the final payment shortly before going into labor with my daughter in late August. On September 11, 2001, the world changed as two airplanes struck the World Trade Center killing thousands of New Yorkers. At the time my daughter was 12 days old.
Although I was fearful that I would never be able to collect payment for the hard work I had recently completed. I continued to push forward with my business venture. Sure life as we knew it would never be the same, but I knew deep down that I had to keep striving and my resolve to overcome hardship was once again put to the test. For days nothing else played on television but the horrific scenes of that deadly day. At the time I had no clue if my clients were among the deceased or if I would ever hear from them again.
Like many who are closed as a result of the Coronavirus Pandemic, I submitted an SBA loan application. Months went by before I received a denial letter stating that I was geographically outside of the disaster area. A few more months went by and a mutual contact reached out to me to inform me that the company had relocated to New Jersey and was requesting my contact information. I later learned that none of the executive team, with whom I had been working, were in the office when the plane struck, just shortly before 9 am. They advised me that their business model had shifted and that they were no longer able to utilize the tool that I had created for them. As a result, they offered to pay me a lesser amount and I quickly agreed to the modified terms. A few days later a FedEx package arrived with their payment, which I assumed I would never receive.
A few of the lessons learned from that situation have helped me deal with Covid-19 and I wanted to share them with you in hopes that your business will pivot and land on its feet. Understandably these are trying times for all and a global pandemic is not exactly the same as 9-11. Most importantly, be kind to yourself and others as I truly believe that we are all doing the best that we can.
Lesson 1: Keep The Lines of Communication Open
It is imperative that you keep the lines of communication open during these trying times. Offer your existing customer additional ways to reach you, especially if your main point of contact is your office landline and your doors are closed or hours shifted.
Make it easier than ever for customers to reach you when it’s most convenient for them. Be diligent about getting back to customers and spend as much time as needed listening to their needs and concerns.
Your website should offer individuals up to the minute information about your business and how you are servicing their needs during Covid-19. If you have closed the doors temporarily, give them regular updates as to what you are working on behind the scenes to come back bigger and better than before. If your hours have shifted or your only offering curbside services, let your customers know. Don’t hide this information in the fine print, make it bold and easy to find.
Lesson 2: Change Your Messaging
People are hurting, both physically and financially. Adjust the tone of your brand’s message to show that you are empathetic to their altered state.
This is not the time to be overly promotional or use aggressive sales tactics (such as pop up ads, etc). Instead, talk about how your business is adjusting to the needs of your clients.
Be authentic, people can see through smoke and mirrors, and being dishonest can be detrimental to your brand’s reputation. It’s okay to be vulnerable and let people know that you too are trying to figure out the “new normal”.
Lesson 3: Brand To Be In Demand
Building demand around your products and services is critical to the longevity of your business. Share how your products and services the problems that your customers are facing. Asking them about the problems they are experiencing, that are relative to your line of business, is a great way to open up the dialogue with your clientele. Don’t forget to include external stakeholders in the problem-solving discussion as they will be able to provide you a unique perspective that may lead your next big breakthrough.
Give examples of how others are utilizing your products and services and the impact that it is having on them. Testimonials are always helpful as they show your potential clients what one can expect should they choose to work with your business.
The keys to making it through these challenging times are to stay flexible, keep your eyes, ears, and heart open, and make good use of your communication strategy. If your business’ digital communications are lacking, now is the ideal time to schedule a FREE one-on-one with me so that we can discuss a strategy to keep your brand top of mind.