I hope you're hanging in there. It's been an interesting couple of weeks. If you're reading this in the future, we're right in the middle of a national business crisis. Things are changing daily and people are scrambling. Some are losing their jobs. Some businesses are having to shut down, while others are ramping up. It seems people are either bored or busy.
An example is my wife's business. She works at a bank and they closed the lobby. Half of the staff was put on paid leave while the other half mans (and womans) the mini Fort Knox. She's home for a week but then works the next.
There are other business people I know who are transforming their businesses by scrambling to try to find things like masks, respirators, and other medical supplies from overseas suppliers. Other businesses find themselves with absolutely nothing to do. They're just shut down. Their clients have slowed or simply stopped buying. They can't work or pay their staff, like restaurants, stores, and more.
Disruption = Displacement
There are a lot of disruptions going on right now. But if you're like most people, you're in one of two places. You're either bored or really busy. Well, whether you're bored or whether you're busy, now is the time to work harder. What I want to do today is outline what you can do if you're in either of those two camps.
Before we go there, I want to tell you about something that happened last week. Last week was that I had three planned networking meetings scheduled. These were monthly or bi-weekly face to face meetings. One was at a restaurant, one at a coffee shop, and the other one was at a church. Due to an ‘everybody stay home and in place' order in our state, we couldn't meet because these businesses were closed. The first thing I did was jump online and say, “Hey, what if we held these meetings virtually on Zoom?”
There was some push back at first. But, after the meetings were done, everybody was thrilled. “Man, it was so great to have that normalcy and to see people's faces. It just felt good.” So, what do you think you can you do? How can you pivot? My mantra for the week is “Don't Panic… PIVOT!”
Let's start with the bored people. One of the things that you can do if you have nothing on your plate and your business is slowed down is get yourself prepped for what's coming up.
Clean Up Your Lists
The first thing I suggest you do is clean up your lists. In my CRM, I had over 6,000 people. I thought it was a good idea to export everybody from LinkedIn and bring them into my CRM. Well, it wasn't a good idea. What I did, rather than start from scratch, was go through and basically delete everybody I didn't need in there that was not part of my current business model. It took me a couple of days, but I went from 6,000 people to 1,400 people. Now that list is lean, mean, and ready for business.
Where else can you clean up lists? What about your email list? How about your contact book? What about your CRM or contact manager? Find a way to clean up things so when business kicks back, you're primed and ready to go.
Up Your Website Game
The next thing you can do is take a look at your website. Is it current? Are there things you want to add? Maybe you can go in and add something like better forms. Maybe create an email sequence and give people something to download so that when you do get back into full swing, people are already informed as to what you're doing and what's different now. That's especially true if you've lost business and you need reinvent what your business is going to look like in the future.
The next thing bored people can do is reach out. You may have heard my 10/10/10 strategy before. It's pretty simple. What you do is you take 10 minutes every single day to reach 10 contacts with 10 words. It's, “How are you doing and how can I help?” Figure out a way to reach out and see if anybody can utilize your connections or resources. What can you do to be part of the solution and not just sit there and roll up in a ball and wither?
Damn, I'm Busy!
Now, let me talk about the busy people. There are some companies that are scrambling. There's a few that have to move everybody outside and turn them into virtual workers. Other places are ramping up because the demand for their product has just gone through the roof. If you're busy, there are a couple of things that you want to consider.
The first one is time management. Your typical office may include somebody coming up, rapping on your door, and taking five minutes of your time. Or, you walking out and going to somebody's cubicle. If you have virtual employees that's more difficult. I suggest you look at a tool called Acuity. Acuity scheduling lets you put people into blocks of time in your calendar. It's better than Google Calendar because you can integrate Zoom with it so you can have face to face Zoom meetings as well and the two of those work hand in glove.
The next thing you have to look at is your project management. Let's say you're doing the Zoom meeting with one person or maybe your entire team. Here's a simple suggestion: record the meeting. Then you upload the separate audio file and you use a tool like Rev to have it transcribed. If you use their automated service, it's only $1.25 a minute. A half-hour meeting is not going to be super expensive. Then you could take that and create to do's from it and put it into a project manager. If you have one setup, great. If you don't, think about using something like Asana or a Slack to start capturing those ideas and put them into action plans.
The last piece is your content and your contact management.
Content and Contact Management
I talked about the bored people that may need to go through and clean up their CRM. But, now's a great time to go through your CRM and find the people that you need to communicate with and get messages out to them. Use something like Planable, which is a social media posting tool to get messages out to all of your social media. Use a tool like AWeber to export all of your clients and bring them into an email marketing program. From there, you can start to create email drip sequences.
With Planable, you can create a sequence of posts that you could do every single month or every single week. The bottom line is, try to automate communications as best you can.
That leads me to one final point. During a time of crisis, a lot of us just want to shut down and pull back. In reality, now is the time to communicate. It is the worst time to stop your marketing. If you stop it now and resume when business picks up again, it's going to take a while for people to remember you and your business, when they have to make buying decisions. Out of digital sight means you're not going to be top of mind. Make sure that you're getting messages out there that say, “Hey, what can we do to help? Here's what we're doing now to help businesses like yours. Here are some great ideas that you can use in your business that may help you get through this crisis.”
The more you become a thought leader, an educator, an information disseminator, the more your business will remain top of mind with the largest possible audience.
During this time, I want you to think about if you're busy or if you're bored, how you can keep building your business up. Think about what it's going to be like once things get back to normal and try to keep yourself together and move things in a positive direction that's not only going to help you but help other people. As Mr. Rogers said, “Look for the helpers.” They're everywhere and you want to be perceived not as somebody who's panicking, but as a helper.