Message to Businesses Owners, Sales and Marketing People

by | Mar 25, 2020 | General

I haven’t been as active on social media as I usually am, and the reason for which is, I’ve been watching what has been happening to businesses… our local clients, the rest of the world, and our own. And obviously, the news has made it more difficult to create educational content for you guys.

I’ve been very hesitant to post about what I’ve been observing because of the potential backlash of checking my privileges.

Make no mistake, I know, health comes first. We have taken extra measures for myself, my team and my clients to be as safe as possible in their homes. I know that it’s best to be closed for the quarantine period, rather than risk it, and suffer fatalities.

I know that others are not as privileged as us, and have no choice but to work, either as a responsibility or as a need. If they don’t work, they don’t get paid. And there are people right now who already have no jobs.
I am writing this because, it can get worse. Especially, if SMEs, the employers, are not able to get back on their feet.

Small and Medium Enterprises

Working with SMEs in their digital marketing, and being an SME ourself as Coffeebot, we are aware of the difficulties these businesses face today. No amount of Risk Management training has equipped us for this challenge.

According to an article from the World Bank, SMes represent about 90% of businesses and more than 50% of employment worldwide. And a lot of them are in danger of not being able to recover from this crisis.

There are many articles and posts on social media about businesses and employers giving full salaries and added benefits through this Cornavirus lock down, even without work. What many don’t know is, a lot of these businesses wish they can do the same, but CANNOT AFFORD to. Because they know that if no sales come in, they also have no salaries to give out, and these businesses will probably need to reach really deep to survive more than a month’s worth of lack of business. Remember, it’s not just salaries. There’s rent, taxes, and more.

Survival is the Key

According to this great report by McKinsey and Company, “Service sectors, including aviation, travel, and tourism, are likely to be hardest hit.” Bankruptcies have already been announced by some companies in this sector.

(Disclaimer, I know there have been complaints about bigger funds being allocated to the tourism industry, and I still agree that right now, health and testing is the priority.)

But for those who do survive, including those in the retail sector, we know that “the steep drop in consumer demand will likely mean delayed demand.” Business will return once all this settles. But the key here is, survive the coming months.
for many businesses, the most painful part is the uncertainty of survival.

The decline of this pandemic is highly reliant on how fast this will be controlled, and that is what gives many the biggest fear. Because there is no end date in sight, small businesses are unsure when they can re-open, and how long they will be able to hold-out with their funds.

Even the Big Businesses are Worried

If you don’t know how it feels to fire, and worry about your business not being able to recover, this video by Arne Sorenson, CEO of Marriott Hotels says it all. Make sure you watch til the end. Watch the part where he laments the sacrifices on his team, and when he chokes out his tears, promising:

While it’s impossible to know how long this crisis will last, I know we, as a global community ,will come through the other side. And when we do our guests will be eager to travel this beautiful world again. When that great day comes, we will be there to welcome them with the warmth and care we are known for the world over…

Yes, I know he belongs to a huge corporation that will most likely survive this, but that’s the point. This isn’t a small or medium business, Marriott is huge, but it’s affected very badly, and according to Sorenson, up to a point where some of the hotels may risk being unable to re-open even when this crisis is over. Imagine how it is for the smaller business.

Because like he said, “This is nothing like we’ve ever seen before.”

The Pressure for Digital Marketing

I’m not sure how it is for other digital marketers, but personally I feel more pressure now more than ever. Because these are the following environments we are experiencing now:

  1. Temporary client closures– Understandably, some of our clients have temporarily closed down due to the quarantine situation in the location they are in. We are worried for them, and are doing what we can to make sure that they quickly recover once this is over.
  2. Demand for education– I have been getting messages, asking for trainings, something, anything they can study for when businesses are back on track. It’s been quite difficult for me to focus but I feel I owe it to my community to help educate.
  3. Reliance on a purely digital campaign– With Out Of Home marketing down to a very minimum, events being cancelled, and the rest of marketing channels being unable to reach customers’ homes, many businesses now realize the need for digital marketing for their businesses to survive. There have been many articles published about this, including this one from Forbes. Again, it’s all about educating these companies on what campaigns will really help them during these times.
  4. Guidance on marketing messaging– Again, more education, study, and tweaking of marketing messaging is being demanded, to make sure that efforts are not deaf to the crisis, but still be able to make a sale, for the sake of their companies. This is no easy feat, and will require a customized approach, based on the type of offering they have in relation to the Covid-19 crisis. It’s another reason why I shared Sorenson’s video. It has been an example of excellent marketing messaging that’s authentic, effective, and ends on a positive note. We can all learn from it.
  5. Preparing for for their return– Some companies are also taking advantage of the standstill to finally create a marketing plan for when they are able to go back in business. All efforts should be one based on this marketing plan, their operations, support and other departments. The success of this marketing plan may mean their recovery, or failure.

What Does All of this Mean?

I decided to write this for several reasons:

  • Practice caution. Businesses are sacrificing their survival so that their employees and clients are safe. So please, stay in your homes. Make all the sacrifices, from our health industry, governments, and businesses worth it. Be safe.
  • Be understanding. I’m sure there are some bad people or businesses around the world. But there are also many who truly sacrifice, and care. And they are the businesses who are still wondering if they can make it through. This is not just for businesses. This is for every person you encounter. When things don’t go as you expect them to be, don’t let anger be your first reaction.
  • Teach. I wrote this post to get my head out of my ass, and go back to creating materials to teach about digital marketing. For others out there who also have valuable knowledge, I hope you take the time share it with the world. I have nothing against Tiktok but surely, many others are also looking for alternative things they can do when they tire of it.
  • Prepare. For the businesses, entrepreneurs, marketing, and sales people. We know that there is an end in sight for this crisis. Do not be caught unprepared. You are not Coca-Cola who can afford to transfer all marketing funds to charity because they are always TOP OF MIND. This is the sad truth. So, during these times, you have to be ready to bounce back. Plan while you can, prepare while you can. We know we don’t just owe it to ourselves. We also owe it to our customers and employees.

I hope the governments of the different nations realize this problem, and will do something about it. I can’t do a lot in my home, when a lot of businesses are still at pause. But, this is one of the things I can do to help.

Because to quote Arne Sorenson again,

When that great day comes, we will be there to welcome them with the warmth and care we are known for the world over…

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