Firstly, we’re not here to try and flog you our services using fear tactics. There’s some useful free marketing advice in this article which I really hope will help some of you. If you want our help, you can ask for it.
Whether you’re thinking ‘Yay, I finally have an excuse to avoid everything and sit around in my pants all day’ or you’re dreading the thought of isolation, you’re about to face an unprecedented time in what can loosely be called ‘the workplace’.
IT’S NOT GOING TO BE FOREVER
Okay, so this is going to be a rough period for a lot of people. Particularly small businesses, freelancers, the hospitality and events industry, and millions of others. We won’t pretend otherwise. People are going to lose their jobs, we’re not making light of anything.
But according to a recent McKinsey report, despite the negative narrative around this, the most likely economic outcome (by a small margin) is that Q2 will be horrendous, Q3 pretty rough, but Q4 will see a boom as business picks up (correct at time of writing). So perhaps focus on that.
May is predicted to be the worst time for Europe and the UK, with things improving after that. Slowly.
SO HOW CAN YOU MAKE THE BEST OF YOUR TIME?
For many businesses this is a chance to test the remote working model, maybe something they’ve been resistant to, and see how well it works. I’m willing to bet this pandemic changes the way we work forever.
If you’re a small business owner it’s going to be a challenge, for sure
For some people, it’ll be business as usual, just at home (maybe in your pyjamas) and doing a lot of Zoom calls.
If you’re a small business owner, though, or someone that relies on live activities for a living, like a teacher or fitness instructor, it’s going to be a challenge, for sure.
Regardless, I’ve banged down a bunch of ideas for everyone, in a fairly random order below. My thoughts on how you can make the best of this fallow time.
TIME TO PROMOTE
It’s MAD on Facebook at the moment as people share crazy stuff and distract themselves. You need to be in their feeds!
Make your posts and newsletters interesting. Posting about your Covid-19 company policy isn’t going to thrill anyone
Apart from anything I’m willing to bet they’d be utterly thrilled that whatever you post isn’t about the coronavirus for a change. Same goes for newsletters and blogs.
Make your posts and newsletters interesting, funny, engaging. Posting about your Covid-19 company policy isn’t going to thrill anyone. You can do better than that.
Also look for opportunities to support businesses in return. What goes around comes around, and if we all support each other, we stand a better chance of making it out with a business still standing.
PLAN FOR THE FUTURE
From a marketing perspective, now is the time to make plans ahead. Accept that business is going to be slow but use this time as a gift to get your back room in order. (Yes I know it’s not a gift, I’m doing my best here)
By that I mean stuff like:-
• Revisit your website and update your content
• Do an audit
• Write some blogs
• Update your internal admin – contracts, databases, personas, insurance policies… whatever
• Create a marketing plan for the coming 6-12 months, including a content schedule
Doing stuff like this means that when things pick up, you’re ready to rock and not scratching about each day to try and keep on top of your marketing when business is so busy you don’t know what to do with yourself.
Yes, I’m a positive sort of a stoic. I do honestly think we’ll get a boom after this. And I’ll also say this because it’s going to be a reality for some – sort out your CV :o(
GROUPS, TEACHERS, HANDS-ON JOBS ETC
Are you a teacher or fitness instructor, or similar?
Can you offer online classes? For larger groups, Microsoft Teams is a great free platform for live conference. Teachers working with kids towards exams will know that their students are anxious. Maybe some support you can offer – although I hope many schools will put some of their own policies in place. Anyway – yoga by Zoom? Can it be done? Let me know.
Can you offer a gift certificate for what you do?
Get in touch with your mailing list/post on your Facebook page etc and let people know they can buy a voucher now, and redeem it later. Keep the revenue rolling. Suggest you offer some special rates, tempt them in.
Can you adapt what you do?
A local catering firm here in Sussex for example, having had a load of events pulled, has created a healthy meals home delivery service. Also, Burley Fisher bookshop in Hackney has offered to drop books round to people buying them online or over the phone.
There’s lots of ideas like this, but definitely time to get creative. Crises in business like this separate the champs from the chumps.
TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF AS WELL AS OTHERS
If you’re in isolation, it might sound like fun for a bit, but having no human contact after a while is going to affect you. Boredom is just one symptom, but your mental health can be affected too. Why do you think prisoners dread solitary so much? Loneliness can be associated with an increased risk of depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, sleep problems and increased stress.
Limit the amount of time you spend reading about the coronavirus
It can raise anxiety levels and honestly, except the stuff you can actually do yourself, it’s out of your control. Head down, check in once or twice a day, and focus on other things.
Watch your working hours
Some people are going to find themselves at their laptop from 6am to 10pm. And others are going to struggle to avoid procrastinating and visiting the fridge every five minutes.
Plan your working time. Take regular breaks. Make sure you monitor this.
Keeping fit will help
Also – you’re not going to the gym, so get some fitness and yoga videos going on YouTube. There’s tons of free ones – keeping physically fit is going to make you feel better.
Talk to other people
Not just for your own sake, but for theirs.
And get dressed
It’s tempting to roll out of bed and work in your pyjamas day in, day out, because why bother? But you’ll feel better if you shower, and stick some decent clothes on. Take it from one who already works at home a fair bit.
OH MY GOD THE KIDS ARE OFF SCHOOL NOW TOO
This is the thing that is filling many people with dread, but you’re just gonna have to work with it. If there’s two of you, you need to take turns. If you’re a single parent, work out a rota with the kids.
Kids like routine and are good at watching the clock
Tell them you can play with them at X o’clock but not before, that kind of stuff.
Create challenges for them to keep them busy
Get them involved in what you do, if you can, so you share time with them. And they’re bound to have homework, so be vigilant with that.
Films buy you more time than CBBC
And don’t feel guilty if you have to stick them in front of the TV for hours at a time. This is unusual times, it doesn’t make you a bad parent. Just give them back some time to make up for it.
And yes, I do know how ridiculously optimistic all this sounds – I am a single parent who has done summer holidays working at home. But you have to start somewhere.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTERWARDS?
Well, that’s kind of anyone’s guess. I’m going to go with my prediction of there being a really rough summer, followed by a crazy rush in autumn. Sure, the events industry will be the sector that struggles most, as people will meet and conference online, removing the need to rebook missed events.
…it’s important to focus on what you can do, rather than worry about things that are out of your control
But the stuff that’s getting put off now will happen later in the year. Everyone is going to want to make up for lost time and revenue. Buckle up and prepare for a busy Q4/Q1-21.
As an aside… Looking at China, if you’re in food delivery and catering/restaurant businesses, get ready! Your workload is likely to massively increase. In China as people are starting to go back to work, there’s been a massive swell of new users of food delivery services – with the biggest growth in middle aged people, say delivery app Meituan. And business is off the scale.
Whatever happens, it’s important to focus on what you can do, rather than worry about things that are out of your control. Hang tight and try to stay positive, and look for opportunities to work with other people too.
If you want some help from us – drop us a line. We’re offering free Zoom/online consultations at the moment to help give people marketing advice.