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The slow drip of cancellations leading into the shut down of 2020 was frustrating to anyone and everyone, not to mention emotionally and financially harmful for the extroverted business owners. But for the never-say-die go getters…the first weeks of March were truly painful.  Trade Shows, networking events, Spring Galas, you name it – canceled. The first week into the shut down of 2020 felt very similar to bringing my first child home from the hospital: isolation, disbelief, and confusion about how to proceed forward like everything was normal. 

Three weeks into the shut down I had an epiphany with my three year old son. He has this *fun* habit of running really fast and really far ahead of us on hiking trails so we’re forced to chase after him lest he falls off a cliff or into a well. It only took three weeks of social isolation to find the patience I needed in order to realize that he runs away because he doesn’t believe anyone is listening or will listen to him. There is no manual for how *be* a parent just as there is no manual for how to be a business owner…one day, seemingly, you just kind of are one. Part of the gig is realizing when it is time to iterate a new version of your current plan to move forward stronger than before.

Isolation parenting aside, now is the time for business owners to pivot and clarify their outbound messaging strategy. If you have questions like this:

How will we add more leads to our funnel?

How can we stay in front of our active prospects? 

What is our Brand message in the middle of a pandemic?

Digital marketing is the answer. More leads? Digital marketing. Stay in front of active prospects? Digital Marketing. Brand Messaging…right, digital marketing.  But taking time to craft and clarify your message must be the first step in this process. 

Taking stock of what’s working and what is not is the valuable action item that we can all be working on today as we wait for the doors to open back up. One could argue that the odds are in favor of small business owners with an open mind to creatively pivot themselves into a digital footprint. Those are the business owners who will walk away from this time period, possibly stronger than before, but definitely still standing. 

Let’s take this shut down for exactly what it is, a chance to re-evaluate the internal workings of our businesses and clarify the outbound message.

  1. If you can’t get past the existential crisis being dealt out by the first few months of 2020, hire someone to help you get creative. There are so many small business creatives out there, take this time to interview a few. Marie Kondo the processes that are not working.
  2. Ask yourself and your team, how can we build automation into your day-to-day? There are an infinite number of software products (many that are free or low cost) to  help you modernize some of the things you’re doing manually today. Can you offer an e-commerce option for clients to continue to buy from you?
  3. Look at the analytics for each of your messaging channels. Don’t have google analytics set up? Don’t have facebook pixel installed? This is a great time to get those pieces in place. It’s not rocket science, but there are so many professionals in this ecosystem who can help you get those items in place so you are in a position of strength when the shutdown ends.

Soon enough the pace will ratchet back up, multiple events a week, meetings, and don’t forget the 2020 election coming at us.  

I’ve never spent this much time 1:1 with my kids, it is a challenge everyday to slow down, listen, and be patient. It is a valuable exercise to practice these skills, try it as you patiently evaluate and analyze the different communication channels we all work in and how/if your message is being heard loud and clear. Because even in a pandemic (especially in a pandemic) your customers and your team are looking to you for answers. Ask yourself: 

  • is our message clear
  •  is our audience listening
  • Are we screaming down a hiking trail to a 3 year old who doesn’t care? 
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