There are many traumatic things going on in the United States today.
COVID-19 is on everyone’s mind, of course. It has completely changed almost everything in our personal lives and our businesses. From where we go and what we do to how we collaborate and how we market products.
Social issues have also climbed to the top of the ladder. People who previously gave little thought to race relations and law enforcement have been introduced to new ways of looking at these topics.
Extreme weather and its effects on our nation’s infrastructure are also in the news. Hurricanes off the Eastern and Southern coasts, and tornadoes in the South, Midwest and the Plains are increasing in both frequency and intensity. Heat waves are testing the nation’s three electrical grids. Wildfires are threatening homes and the landscape in sections of the West and Southwest.
One question for many business owners and entrepreneurs during these troubling times is whether they should link any of their marketing strategies to current events. Especially events as frightening as some that have dominated the news in recent months.
My take on this is that if you ignore what’s going on – even in an attempt to make sure no one thinks you’re trying to exploit the situation – you will appear out of touch. Your customers will wonder if you’ve been living in a cave on a remote island during 2020.
On the other hand, if you make news events the entire crux of your marketing campaigns, it could look like you’re attempting to capitalize on the nation’s fears, take advantage of people’s misfortunes and scare them into purchasing your products.
The road less taken – but much better paved and lighted – is the one that acknowledges one or more of these hot-button issues but keeps the focus on how you can help customers navigate their way through them.
At 4Patriots, we don’t tell customers and potential customers they’re about to experience power outages, empty grocery store shelves and contaminated drinking water. But we do keep them informed about how to stay prepared for the inevitable uncertainties of life. And we offer products such as solar-powered generators, survival food and water purification devices to help them do that.
Turning the spotlight inward for a moment, it’s a good idea for entrepreneurs and business owners to look at how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected their businesses and what lessons they’ve learned so far.
Health officials warn us this virus could be around for a long time. Dealing with it is probably going to be more like a marathon than a sprint. Any insight we can glean now during the ongoing first wave could be of great value to us and our businesses in the future.
Something we’ve learned recently at 4Patriots that has been a pleasant surprise is how well we’ve been able to continue functioning with an entirely remote staff. While we are considered an essential business, our office doors have been basically shut the past few months. Our employees’ safety is paramount. And we’re thrilled they’ve adapted so well to working from home.
Prior to advances in technology, this would not have been possible. But with the tools already in place and with a number of our employees already working remotely prior to the coronavirus outbreak, we haven’t skipped a beat. That’s a testament to the quality and stability of our systems, as well as the caliber and character of our people.
Perhaps the lessons you’re learning during the pandemic are similar. Or maybe you’ve discovered that incorporating additional creativity into your processes and marketing is what’s really turning the wheel.
Here’s an example. Realizing that frequent hand washing would be essential for many employees around the country, one business owner produced hundreds of sinks with foot pedals so that construction site workers and others would not have to touch faucet handles frequently touched by others.
Many restaurant owners have expanded outdoor seating sections to make their customers feel more comfortable dining out. Some clothing manufacturers have added the production of personal protective equipment including masks, gloves and gowns to their stock.
Merely surviving during these trying times may not be enough for many businesses. The race could very well be too long for that. Continued success might only come to those who use their creativity to shift gears from survive to thrive.
Allen Baler is a leading entrepreneur and Harvard grad. Allen Baler is a Partner in 4Patriots LLC, based in Nashville, TN.
Disclaimer: This blog post is not a substitute for the sound advice of a professional with expertise in the subject matter discussed. Please seek appropriate counsel on what strategies make sense for your personal circumstances and/or your business.