Keeping the Lights On

KEEPING THE LIGHTS ON

April 2020
78Madison has quite naturally been thinking a lot about what companies should do with their marketing communications plans during this unprecedented time in history. No doubt we are all being tested by the COVID-19 pandemic – emotionally, financially, job security, family, friends, and the list could go on and on. 

In a blink of an eye, “business as usual” became a laughable phrase from the past. What seemed so natural in our work lives just a month or so ago – picking up a cup of coffee on the way to work, easing into the day, chatting with colleagues, having a leisure lunch with friends – was over. At least for the short term. 

There has been nothing like this in our lifetimes. Yes, we’ve had pandemics before and natural disasters and recessions, but nothing like the shutting down of an economy in the matter of weeks. Without a doubt, it has forced us – has forced me - to change how we all think about our businesses. These are unnerving, difficult times for a lot of reasons, but having survived some deep desert experiences – in business and personally – I’ve learned that the phrase “one day at a time” is a solid creed to live by. In fact, as we navigate our businesses through these difficult times, I’d recommend you put this statement on the walls throughout your office. 

Listen, during a time of crisis, it’s natural to focus 100% on health, family, and friends. The question is, do the ones you employ fit into any of these categories?  How concerned are you about them? Their families? Their friends?  The point is, as you naturally think about those most important to you, it is equally important to take whatever steps you can to maintain the visibility of your business, even if you’ve been forced to slow down or even temporarily close shop. What steps are you going to take now, today, to survive? 

Like most everyone else in America and around the world, money has indeed become a worry. It is at 78Madison. Companies are slashing budgets and laying off staff at an alarming rate. You turn on the TV and the news is ominous. You wonder, should I just close it all down and wait for this to pass, and then see if I can start all over again? Perhaps by doing this you think you can survive. That’s one approach, and honestly an approach that seems to be most prevalent today. However, history tells me that businesses should strongly consider staying the course as best they can. Remember, marketing, especially in times of crisis, is a long game strategy. 

Here are a few thoughts that may help you in your decision-making process. 

ONE:

I assume you have some extra time on your hands with the slow down. Use this time to strategically think about ways you can market that will build your business – even at a time like this. Remember, when the crisis is over, you want to be top of mind with consumers who are ready to get on with life again and ready to spend. Trust me when I tell you that If you can figure out the path that is right for your business in today’s environment, start marketing now – don’t wait until the crisis is over. Your investment will pay off. 

TWO:

Assuming your business has an entrenched mission and vision that includes a very talented work force, don’t let all this uncertainty distract you from living out your core values. For many that will mean – and I know this is easier said than done – putting people over profits. To-date, 78Madison has fortunately only laid off one staff member, and we are working tirelessly to make sure that there are none that follow. 

THREE:

The COVID-19 crisis has impacted literally every business and individual in the United States in some way. That is a daunting statement. Yet, I would council you to keep your brand light burning. Once you turn the lights out, trying to turn them on again after being dark for an extended period of time will require a monumental effort. Plus, if your competitors have taken a different path, you’ll be at a disadvantage.  

FOUR:

To repeat the obvious, I think it is safe to say that COVID-19 has changed everything – how we do business, how we live, how we shop, how we connect. There is little doubt that when this is all over, life and business as we know it will have changed dramatically. Yes, there will be a new normal. Regardless, the best way to safeguard yourself long term is to avoid sitting on the sidelines and to instead, put a strategically smart plan into place.
 
While we are not yet out of the woods, I can assure you this crisis will pass and strangely, in our own American way, we will be better for it. We will emerge stronger and more focused on the tasks ahead. People will come out of their homes, offices and shops will open. Businesses will find their footing again. And most of all, this experience will have taught each of us valuable lessons.  

In closing, I would be remiss if I did not reiterate that your personal health is the most important issue in all this – that’s focus number one for 78Madison. As well however, when it comes to maintaining the health of your business, don’t assume your communications platform turns on and off like a light switch. It doesn’t. You must stay in the game at all times. You’ve worked hard to build your operation; while you may not have the financial resources to keep pace with the business goals you originally set for yourself or your operation, don’t let them fade away altogether.

Take care of yourself. Do what you can to make current and potential customers and clients aware that you’re still operating, riding it out, just like them. Know that better days are coming.
Together, we will get through this.

Joe Bouch
CEO, 78Madison