When S*%#! gets real.
Your Brand has the upper hand during a crisis. Here’s how to keep focus on your most important asset, even when everything else is playing against you.
Times are not easy. As the world faces a viral enemy, the global economy already feels the inevitable aftermath of the pandemic. In order to recover and go back to the previous status quo in which the world was living in before, is going to costs us a few years.
This means everything we know in theory is being questioned, and hard choices are to be made. Hearts will break, empires will fall, dreams will end, projects might not be concluded. This means S*%#! just got real.
Countless small and medium businesses are raising the flag, losing their chance to make a difference. Several multinationals, specially of “non-essential” sectors, are also suffering, being obliged take difficult decisions in many ways.
For those still managing to keep their head above trouble waters, this article is about finding ways to build a bridge. Because the answer to overcoming times of crisis relies a lot on your Brand, and what are you willing to do for it. If you manage to work on your Branding during this period, you’ll see that your resilience will pay off.
Here’s a small guide on what could offer a light inside this dark tunnel we are all in. Hopefully it will work for you and your business. I really hope it does. Because if you are working with passion and need to provide to your family, you need to use all your cards in order to have better chances on thriving.
Needless to say, that if you have already been paying attention to your Brand in the past, chances to get things back on track are a bit bigger. However, if you never thought as your Brand as the super hero in your business, is never too late.
1. YOU NEED TO TAKE CONTROL.
The noteworthy words on handling the unthinkable were said by Captain Sully before landing an airplane on the Hudson river, after losing both engines due to a bird strike: “My aircraft”.
If your current position lies on delegation, you will have to step down and start taking things into your own hands. Not only because you might not have enough personnel for regular tasks, but your supplier’s list might also need some cost control cuts. You might have a chance on renegotiating terms, but odds are you might have to cut costs.
You have to be willing to learn how to do some tasks yourself. I’ll give you an example: Due to the pandemic, many projects of the hotel we manage were postponed to 2021, including our spa. However, it was very important to have a cozy massage room to give our guests an indoor option for a relaxing moment. Instead putting the full project on hold, I calculated what I could do in order to have a decent massage room for this year. So, I ended up painting the walls myself. I’ve also managed to decorate the place using Pinterest posts as inspiration.
This week, I’m about to start my second online course on Digital Marketing Campaigns. Most companies need to pay an expert, or an advertising agency fee. I’ve paid 10 euros for my classes. Taking control means learning new things, means being creative, and extending your horizons. You will be surprised to realize how much your brain can still take in. Don’t be afraid of becoming a student again. It most certainly will help your finances, giving you more chances to reach a happy ending - just like Captain Sully.
2. CREATE SYNERGIES.
Finding partners willing to collaborate with your business, dividing tasks, costs and risks, is also something to consider. Perhaps you don’t have the means, or the knowledge to reach a particular goal. Perhaps there are companies or professionals out there who can help you get more awareness, or directly more sells. So, why not join forces?
One of our local real state agency specialized in holiday homes is forming a partnership with a local supermarket to organize deliveries to their guests. Our hotel is offering free cocktails to travelers who rent old classic automobiles, like a Citroën 2 CV. We also advertise their Brand to every guest that arrives for check-in. In Brazil, there is a nice expression to describe this: “one hand washes the other”. So, find a paper and a pen, and start writing down your list of possible partners, or freelancers, with whom you could create a partnership, a win-win situation.
3. IT’S TIME TO THINK SMALL.
Think of small and cheaper experiences to help your Brand shine when a client is with you. It’s about specific moments during a customer journey that could use a little extra detail.
For instance, if you have contacts of your clients, such as email or telephone numbers, it’s time to think about a creative message to diverse yourself from all the spams people are receiving. If you don’t have those, you can focus on the moment of purchase, with the clients that could work for you as spreaders, since the word of mouth is still a strong communication tool.
I went to a florist this morning. As you probably can already imagine, buying flowers is not something people are putting on their priority list right now, specially if it’s for decoration purposes. It doesn’t matter, because I was there. And that moment, when a client is with you, that’s a key moment. I found myself smiling to that fact that together with my purchase there was a small card, written by hand, saying “A colorful day is a good day”.
Such a small gesture that costed her a piece of paper, and some ink. You might be facing difficulties getting new clients, but now is the time to push on the loyalty factor. Now, it’s the moment to take small steps.
4. THE REWARD IS MORE POWERFUL.
In order to remind clients you exist, and perhaps reach new ones, you can also bring a little twist, talking about what kind of memory your Brand wants to deliver. In order to grasp what kind of memory, a small exercise can be very handy. The product or service you’re offering, put them aside for a minute. You are already noticing that companies are starting with promotions, and product information. In order to be different, you need to go deeper than a product or service offer.
I’m talking about the Purpose of your business. Why does it exists? It’s not an easy question to answer. So perhaps the easier way to approach is to seek the reward you are willing to give people.
For instance, if you are a butcher, you don’t sell meat. You sell delicious moments, a great ingredient for that recipe you are cooking for loved ones. A real state agency is not selling houses, but a dreamy lifestyle, or a sense of accomplishment (buying a house is not cheap). If you are a gardener, you are not selling plants, but a beautiful view to look at every morning.
So whenever you describe your business to people, from now on, spread your reward. No sure what your reward is? Nor your Purpose? I can help you.
You will have more effective results because humans connect better to ideals, rather than things. Remember this amazing quote on Branding, by Nick Graham, CEO of Joe Boxer (the boxer underpants):
“The Brand is the amusement park. The product is the souvenir.”
5. YOU MIGHT NEED TO RETHINK YOUR WHAT.
Hard times come and go. But your Purpose, even if you can’t explain what it is, will always remain. Do you remember IBM? In the beginning their product were calculating machines. Their Purpose to exist never changed, the will to change the world, making life easier through technology. But their products, their WHAT, has suffered major changes, right?
Same thing can be thought to your business. When we arrived in France to take over the hotel, the place had a positioning for corporate clients. Which means, big meeting rooms, quick breakfasts, and not so many great experiences. Guests would leave early in the morning, arriving only to shower and sleep. We thought about our Purpose and the fact we were in the heart of Provence. So we changed the WHAT, becoming a hotel for travelers willing to enjoy the joie de vivre provençale. The meeting rooms were turned into rooms, for people seeking a romantic escapade, and many other changes took (and are still taking) place to make sure our new WHAT is felt in every corner of our hotel.
This is true case: During the pandemic, a well-known wedding photographer living in Provence decided to join forces with others, and together they’ve created the company French Soul Studio. Many weddings were canceled or postponed due to our current scenario. Their new business focuses on hospitality photo shoots (bars, hotels and restaurants), visual personal Branding, digital marketing, and of course, wedding events. They are using their Purpose and skills to shift a bit what they offer, expanding their target in the process.
Changing your WHAT must not be something radical, but it could be matter of survival. It takes courage and goodwill to find out in what other ways your skills can be used, to something that is more demanded in a particular moment, or a particular market. It might be the decisive change that helps you thrive difficult times, opening ways to opportunities, and perhaps an expansion to your previous business.
As you can see, the list puts the great idea behind your Brand in the center of your strategy during a crisis.
Your Brand can be the bridge to help you surpass troubled waters. If you need help with your Purpose, ideas on rethinking your WHAT, or any one of those items above, I can help. Perhaps we can work on a partnership. :)