People are concerned about the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

People are very uneasy about their possible exposure to others.

And, I think we’re all somewhat petrified as we think about the lasting economic impacts.

Current facts: there’s a pandemic. People are home. Kids are home. Many businesses are closed. Many people aren’t earning a wage at the moment.

For all intents and purposes, huge segments of the economy are SHUT DOWN.

I don’t know how long, or how deep this downturn is going to extend – but I’m certain the economic impacts will be far-reaching.

This is scary stuff. I was personally impacted by the 2008 financial crisis and had to file bankruptcy in 2012. I really don’t want to experience that again.

WHAT’S A BUSINESS OWNER TO DO IN THE CURRENT ENVIRONMENT?

Going forward, I expect we’ll all have a heightened awareness of personal sanitation and public health – and it will change the way we operate as a nation.

Right now, at your own business, this means re-evaluating how you look at employee and customer safety as it pertains to the spread of infectious disease.

I’d encourage you to get with your employees, have a collective brainstorm, open discussion, and facilitate teamwork to update policies and practices that relates to sanitation and disease prevention.

For the most part, what we’re hearing from public officials is, stay home, work from home if you can, isolate yourselves, limit the number of people in a people in a given space at one time – and this all makes sense in the short term, and at the macro level …

But eventually, we’re all going to need hair cuts, dental work, home repairs and other services. As a customer, I’m expecting all you service providers out there to understand your role in minimizing transmission of infectious diseases.

LONG TERM BRAND BUILDING

Assuming your business can weather this storm financially, I think its important look at your brand and consider your business’ role in the community as a means to invest in your brand long-term.

What do you want to be known for?  

How can you or your business help:

  • Your employees?
  • Your neighbors?
  • Your community?
  • Medical professionals?
  • Emergency workers?
  • Other businesses?

We’re all taking this day by day. We’re all going to have to work together to figure this out.

ADDRESSING YOUR BUSINESS NEEDS NOW

I’m not going to ignore the elephant in the room.

All businesses need customers and revenue to survive. I don’t think any amount of advertising, promotion, discounts or offers are going to dramatically change sales volume in the short term for most service businesses.

Here are a few things I think any business can, and, should do.

Engage with existing customers.

Let them know how your business is changed by the current environment.

Share how you’re prepared to help your customers through these times.

Engage with prospects.

Reach out to those who you’ve given a proposal to and see how you can help. Reaching out and showing you care might be enough to keep you top of mind once the dust settles and they’re ready to start that project. Maybe a slightly different proposal, pricing, or payment terms can nudge them along. You won’t know if you don’t reach out and ask.  

Be human. Help others. Tell your story.

I really don’t think businesses need elaborate marketing plans or big promotional efforts right now. If I were you, I’d probably reevaluate any campaigns you had planned.

My recommendation is to do what you think is best for your business – and for your community.

Be kind.

Take photos and video, and share your story on your website and social media.

As a digital marketing veteran, I know the value of content online. Investing now in your brand and your content can pay off for years to come – just remember to be human.

I PICKED A LOUSY TIME TO LAUNCH A BUSINESS, BUT …

MAYBE I CAN HELP YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW

I had big plans to launch Service Marketing School (a company offering online marketing training geared toward local service businesses) with lots of targeted advertising, webinars, aggressive offers and sales pitches to get business owners signed up for premium marketing training courses.

Given the current environment, I’m just not comfortable with that.

I want to share my marketing skills and experiences with business owners nationwide – and I think there’s a lot I can offer.

Plenty of service businesses out there struggle to get customers online (not just right now, but in any economy) – and I know I have the skills to help businesses grow.

I’ve put together some short digital marketing classes and put them up for free on the Service Marketing School website. In these classes, I’ll share some of the most effective ways I’ve helped service businesses get more targeted website traffic and get more customers online over the past 10+ years as a digital marketing professional.

I feel somewhat silly putting this “offer” out there given the brevity of our current situation, but hopefully these classes help some local service business now and in the future.

For the time being, I’m not selling anything – just hoping I can help.

Be safe. Wash your hands!

PW