“It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.” – Epictetus
Editor’s note: In collaboration with our friends at Lola.com, we surveyed nearly 300 businesses on the impact that the current health crisis is having on businesses and how they’re responding.
In the last few weeks, the landscape of business has changed in fundamental ways globally, the breadth and depth of which we can’t yet fully comprehend. The novel coronavirus, COVID-19, has challenged companies to rewrite their forecasts, cut their budgets, and their mode of operation– essentially overnight.
What COVID-19 is forcing us to face, as businesses and individual contributors, is our resilience—our ability to move quickly in response to these market factors, and our desire to serve our clients while balancing new realities at work and at home.
To get a pulse on what’s happening, we collaborated with Lola.com to do what we do best at Databox––we designed a survey. This article includes insights from nearly 300 respondents— all reporting what happened (and what they expect to happen) in their business during the last two weeks of March.
In addition to some multiple-choice questions, we specifically asked two open-ended questions, so that we could hear exactly how their businesses have been impacted, how they expect they’ll be impacted and what they’re doing (or planning to do) about it. We asked:
- What is one way that your business has already been impacted by the COVID-19 and how are you managing it?
- What is one thing you are doing to prepare your business for potential future negative impacts from COVID-19?
For many, the impact of the economic downturn has created pressing challenges and required drastic changes in how they operate: working remotely or cutting staff. For others, mostly in service-based businesses, the virus has brought challenges in meeting the suddenly-changed needs of their clients, who are looking to solve brand-new business issues– or in some cases: opportunities.
Who responded to our COVID-19 survey?
The survey respondents show us a wide range of perspectives, but are predominantly based in North America and are B2B service providers.
While the majority of our respondents are based in North America, some are spread throughout Europe, Asia, and beyond.
The majority of the respondents provide services, while a minority make, sell or distribute products.
Most (85+%) respondents sell to other businesses (B2B), while 30+% sell to consumers. Some of our respondents also serve non-profits, educational institutions or government agencies. Respondents could select more than one answer to this question since many of our respondents serve many types of clients.
As you’ll see later in this article, many of the respondents are marketing service providers.
The majority of their respondents reported that it’s not that important to be physically in the same space as their customers/clients. This is not surprising given the majority of our respondents are B2B service providers.
And also as expected for our respondents, most do not have any employees that are at greater risk of contracting COVID-19 because of their work.
Survey Results Show Negative Impacts on Businesses
The majority of our respondents completed the survey during the week of March 16th, when many US states begin issuing “Stay-at-home” orders, countries enacted stricter travel bans and schools and businesses began closing.
The largest percentage (50%) of our respondents reported seeing a slightly negative impact on the financial performance of their business. Some reported a large negative impact (14%) or no impact (17%) while others reported positive impacts (10%).
While most businesses only saw a slight negative impact the vast majority (93%) said they expected that their existing or potential new clients would see disruption and 80% expected their vendors or suppliers would see disruption.
To get a better sense of why businesses are impacted, we asked them what effects they’ve experienced that has had a negative impact on their financial performance.
While there is a long-tail of reasons, a few stood out as most common, all selected by 30% or more of our respondents:
- Prospective clients postponing commitments
- Canceled events/travel
- Self-quarantine impacts
- Lower consumer spending/confidence.
- Customers canceling.
- Government-mandated travel restrictions.
When asked what COVID-19 effects they anticipate might have a negative impact on their business, many of the same issues were most commonly selected.
However, it seems that our respondents were also more worried about the future potential of customers canceling contracts and low consumer spending/confidence. Additionally, stock market volatility and government-mandated quarantines may present more of an issue for them going forward.
Perhaps the more obvious impact on our respondents was restrictions on travel and the sudden switch to working from home.
The largest percentage of respondents canceled travel for at least 1-3 months. Many (28%) did not have any travel planned and some only canceled travel that was less than one month.
However, just one week later since most respondents completed our survey, with travel restrictions tightening and COVID-19 cases and deaths rising rapidly in North America and Europe, travel in just a few weeks seems risky and unlikely.
The majority of our respondents instructed employees to work from home or not report to work.
Finally, we asked respondents if they think they reacted appropriately to address the risks of COVID-19. Very few (3%) think they waited to long or did not react cautiously enough.
However, many more respondents (37%) think their government reacted too slowly and/or are not being cautious enough.
The Stories Behind Businesses Impacted by COVID-19
Tackling the enormity of the coronavirus’ impact is a challenge in itself; there are many stories to tell, and many different facets to the effects. We’ve broken down the reported impacts into four themes:
- Sales Slowdown and Customers Cancelling
- Networking, Meetings, and Supply Chain Interruptions
- Challenges of Shifting to Remote Work
- Business Increases Because of COVID-19
Sales Slowdown & Customers Cancelling
Negotiating Rates or Pausing Recurring Services
Eric Quanstrom of CIENCE has seen, “Many, many pause requests” in their business.
Peter Cutler of intellect says, “Our lead flow has slowed and we have had prospective partners delay purchasing decisions.” Cutlers says the team will “Look at all parts of the business to ensure we are using all of our tools efficiently.”
Manvi Agarwal of SocialPilot hasn’t seen a reduction in clients but rather requests for some help through the economic downturn. “Our customers are asking for a discount to beat the time of the crisis. So as an act to support our users in staying connected with their clients/customers we are offering a $1/month plan for 2 months.”
Cyrus Yung of Ascelade Pte Ltd also sees clients or clients negotiating for lower rates. Yung says Ascelade has “created passive income sites as the main income-generating strategy. Any other client(s) that come by will be a bonus.” Says Yung, “Since we are an SEO company, we should generate income from other SEO sources, not just SEO service.
Yung also shared the wisdom that has been helping keep perspective during this turbulent time, a quote by tennis legend Arthur Ashe: “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”
Says Yung, “It helps me a lot.”
Leads, Conversion and Buying Decision Changes
Many experts see their deal flow and new conversions taking a deep hit during this time, as well as qualified deals further down the funnel.
Clients are being cautious with their budgets, says David Alexander of Mazepress. To cope, Mazepress has been Creating more scalable digital products to educate en masse. Offering discounts during the next 8-12 weeks to customers who have had operations interrupted and want to find a way to use their time productively.
Says Alexander, “Companies often overlook the tasks they want to do on their website and in their digital marketing, and now is a perfect time to divert resources to the tasks that get forgotten when operating your services.”
Josh Krakauer is seeing different reactions even within Sculpt’s own stable of clients.
“Prospects seem to fall into two camps right now,” says Krakauer. “Ghost, or hustle mode. Several deals in the decision phase have shuttered as companies reprioritize initiatives or pause new spending. The other group includes businesses desperate to move faster. They have committed to 2020 goals that haven’t shifted, have budget pools that may expire soon, or recognize that their products are perfectly positioned for the current market conditions. In both cases, they’re right to move at their pace. But it’s challenging as a potential vendor.”
The potential impact on business isn’t in the ledger book, but morale could have a significant impact on results, too. “I’m concerned with stress management and the effects of social isolation on our team.”
To deal with this, Krakauer says, “We’re adding team meditation blocks every day and encouraging everyone to download the same mindfulness app and use it then. We’re starting spontaneous ‘water cooler’ Slack calls with no agenda so people can gather and connect as humans. Finally, we’re sending different gift packages to everyone’s homes, because we all could use some surprise and delight.”
Wes Marsh of eRep CPQ by BCA Technologies says, “We’ve had multiple potential customers postpone their buying decisions, and we’re updating our year-end forecast targets accordingly. Everyone has a general understanding that we’re all in this together, but for now, major buying decisions are effectively on hold. As for managing this, the biggest thing we’re stressing is empathy and flexibility for everyone involved.”
Fortunately, says Marsh “We run our business debt-free, and we plan for economic downturns through a business emergency fund. However, we are planning to increase our reserves in the future to ensure we can weather any storm. We’re also creating programs to assist our employees with financial planning to also help them be prepared for emergency situations.”
Nicholas Imrie of Distributed.co says “Clients’ confidence in their own companies’ ability to operate is lost, and this slows down decisions. We combat this by upping frequency and depth of comms, validating investment across multiple prog points and offering flex on pricing and terms.”
In terms of remote capabilities, says Imrie, “We are already fully distributed across our developer talent base but in future will seek to ensure that the balance of talent per country is more even.”
Darjan Minov of 2dot media has seen postponement of buying decisions from prospects and current clients.
“We have projected a drop in revenue for the months of March and April. The best way to mitigate this obstacle is to educate clients that impulse decisions to stop marketing efforts will harm them in the long run and work as much as possible on removing bottlenecks in current processes that may affect the decision making process on the client-side. I would personally advise all businesses to slow down their efforts and make sure to restructure their plans for long term impact.”
In response, 2dot is preparing a content series on crisis advertising that will help both clients and fellow advertisers not just to overcome this crisis but to be ready for any other. Minov calls the remote work model the future, saying, “this crisis purely shows how it is possible, necessary and how it can help the overall wellbeing of both people and businesses.”
The future is up in the air, and it shows, says Jerome Williams of JWorks Studios.
“Customers are tightening their belts because of the unforeseen, long-term impact of the pandemic,” said Williams. “Rightfully so. With many towns – not just facilities – in the middle of shutdowns, there is sure to be less spending with me because their customers are spending less with them. Working harder to secure potential contracts is key.”
In response, Williams and the team are “Working from home and not traveling unless necessary in order to reduce exposure to intimate confines with large numbers of people. Keeping every employee healthy is the top priority. If businesses see fewer customers, employees are impacted; And if a large portion of their savings goes toward medical bills with less (if any) money coming in, that impact could have devastating ramifications. “
WordPress theme developer Chokder Shakhawat Sultan of RexTheme has seen a direct correlation from the crisis to the bottom line, saying, “our plugin sales have gone down by 50%. We are trying to create promotions to attract more sales.”
Josh Ho of Referral Rock has experienced what many business owners are currently feeling, mostly “stalled deals and some canceled meetings due to customers/prospects being a bit chaotic that are new to WFH.”
Ho and the Referral Rock leadership are trying to preserve income for their team, “Looking into how front line staff can be repurposed if their work slows, instead of cutting jobs.”
Data Snapshot: As expected, many businesses have already made adjustments in regards to managing day-to-day activities remotely. From allowing employees to work remotely, transitioning in-person meetings to virtual meetings, and canceling or postponing any in-person meetings, respondents are mitigating the health risk by performing key functions virtually.
The same applies to Devin Miller of Miller IP Law. “Because we are a patent and trademark law firm that provides services to businesses, as clients’ businesses slow down or pause it has a ripple effect on our business.”
Miller’s firm takes heart in being well-positioned for times like these. “As a business, we believe in no debt and cash reserves. This philosophy has enabled us to prepare for unanticipated events. We have also cut non-essential costs as we weather this storm.”
Diversification has helped some, according to Vinayak Ranade of Drafted. “We serve companies in all sectors, and are indirectly impacted by sector slowdowns because if our customers aren’t growing they don’t spend money with us.”
The crisis has forced Drafted to adjust by “Reforecasting sales and guidance to investors, cutting the hiring plan for unfilled positions for the remainder of the year, deferring new spend for 2-3 months on nice-to-have expenditures.”
Being a steady voice in the storm has benefitted Daniel Daines-Hutt of Amp My Content, who reminds other marketers that “It only takes around 30-60 minutes to record an episode, but it builds trust, authority and powerful backlinks. (Far easier and faster than guest posting, and easier to build a rapport with the listeners).”
While trying to make the best of things through continued good content, Daines-Hutt has seen “Higher churn and paused sales. Lower conversions. We teach content promotion via a paid program. As our customers are being affected and losing clients or sales, it’s having a domino effect on our own MRR.”
Daines-Hutt suggests that others do as they have, “Diversify offerings. Be willing to adapt.” Says Daines-Hutt, “traditionally we offered a high ticket premium training that gets results. Our audience still wants the offer, but they are struggling and worrying where they can cut costs.”
“With this in mind,” says Daines-Hutt, “we pivoted and now are offering a far lower ongoing fee similar to the Netflix model. People can ‘rent’ monthly access to training, rather than pay for lifetime ownership. While this offer is offered on the basis of need, they can still continue to grow and learn from home- without feeling it’s a burden on them. In a few months this will hopefully all blow over, but it will have a knock-on effect for a while after- so customers may need help for longer than we think. By adapting to this we can help our customers and support our staff during this period.”
When new business slows, Jay Casey of Old Colony Masons looks to the work already in-house to keep the wheel steady. “New customer calls have nearly stopped completely. We are focusing on maintaining our current clients and their needs.” In addition, “Old Colony Masons is looking into business interruption insurance, government aid.” In addition, the business has taken the step of converting its cash reserves to gold.
Anand Iyer is taking the same approach, sharing, ”We are trying to manage this situation by continuously communicating with existing customers and be reassuring about our commitment and making it easier for them to reach out directly via live chat instead of standard contact forms.”
To help mitigate the negative effects of the downturn, Iyer is “Diversifying our client portfolio and investing more resources in e-commerce client acquisition campaigns. As many consumers prefer to buy online, we have noticed a surge in e-commerce website traffic indicating that there will be a demand in online purchase.”
As sales decline, spending must tighten up, says Ben Arndt of DUNK Basketball. “Our business has been impacted most by reduced consumer spending as people delay purchases due to caution. We have managed the loss of sales by ceasing expenditure on all marketing until consumer confidence rises again and sales begin to trend upwards. This has mitigated our financial risk greatly.”
Like Iyer and Casey, as new sales decline, Arndt says that Dunk is “Remaining active with our client base via email and through our social channels to confirm that it’s business as usual for us and that we’ve taken steps to ensure we can mitigate further interruptions should they arise. This increases consumer confidence in our brand and lets people know we may continue serving them to our usual high standards when they are prepared to purchase from us again in the future.”
Srish Agrawal of A1 Future Technologies Pvt. Ltd. has also seen these effects.
Says Agrawal, “Online leads have dropped drastically, and the prospects have started delaying their decision-making process.” Unfortunately, says Agrawal, “we are not able to do anything to avoid the immediate revenue impact because of this. But as a team, we have decided to work on a few new initiatives during this lean period with the hope that these new initiatives may help us recover at a later stage.”
The effects on the business can be felt internally as well. “We never took this concept of remote working seriously before. Now since we understand that this is the future and this is exactly how the world will like to work, we are trying our best to define a streamlined process that can ensure that we are able to hire people anywhere across the world and make them a part of our team.”
In addition to declining business, Perry Nalevka of Penguin Strategies says “We are assessing cash flow on a weekly/daily basis and constantly looking for ways to keep as many of our staff for as long as possible. We are open to taking on work we haven’t in the past, looking for small projects with existing customers and cutting salaries across the board as needed. You can see my post here.”
Nicole Pereira of Chief Martech Officer sees clients “aggressively taking proactive measures to cut spending. Unfortunately, we are one of those measures for many of them. Luckily, it is more of a ‘pause’ for a few months vs a final goodbye.”
To deal with this, Pereira says the business is “diversifying the emergency capital we can draw from just in case one of those channels becomes insolvent: This includes options like the government’s extended tax payment deadlines, reserving this cash in the bank until the deadline will allow us to know we have a reserve if things get worse; SBA loans—getting a huge infusion of support; Opening a business line of credit in order to float labor costs until we can make it back to our normal revenue levels; Cutting Executive & Owner pay and leaving that in the bank for runway, and; Leveraging company credit cards. We are looking to leave a balance on our card vs paying it off monthly. This leaves extra cash in the bank to draw from if needed.”
When this event is over, they will be in great shape to take advantage of it.
Says Pereira, “We are monitoring the industry space, especially with live training events, to make sure that we find appropriate alternative resources for continuing education.”
Big Fish/ Main Client Loss
In some cases, the businesses we surveyed aren’t seeing many small cuts, but rather feeling the effects of a single large loss. For instance, Amber Alesi of Matchbox Design Group shares, “We recently had a client affected by the stock markets crashing and so he has decided to take his agreement to hourly as needed instead of his normal monthly spend. Our owner was very gracious and caring and let our client know that we are always here to help in any way we can.”
Jay Gundotra of ENow Software had a major deal “paused due to the virus. Lead volume has decreased. Current deals have been delayed.” Gundotra says ENow is “Re-examining spend, marketing, and product strategy. Talking to clients more. Looking at all funding options to ensure workers can be continued to be paid.”
Data Snapshot: The overwhelming majority of respondents have seen clients experience the impacts of social distancing and changing financial forecasts. For many of these experts, their services have (in part or in whole) pivoted to helping their clients understand and navigate the new business realities presented by the pandemic.
The same has happened to Thorstein Nordby of Nettly.
“One of our biggest opportunities that we have worked on closing for a year went bankrupt, and we need to invest even more resources in our own marketing to generate new pipeline,” said Nordby.
As a response, Nettly is becoming “even more fiscally conservative in the future and always work on being a very lean organization. This means not spending money on unnecessary expenses, and not invest in too many initiatives that can hurt profitability.”
Eduardo Esparza of Market 8 says, “One major client has canceled.” The effects are more keenly felt on the homefront. “Although we are a remote team and are well set up, productivity has dropped for some team members due to having children around.”
Market 8 is doing its best to support the team through the health and childcare challenges of this new reality. They “discuss information about safety and precautions among the team so everyone can protect their families.”
They’ve also had to “pivot major commercial initiatives to refocus on market niches that will be more resilient to this crisis. Also, elevate ourselves and identify the market segments that are going to be most disturbed by this situation and determine how we can help.”
All of these efforts are part of an overall responsibility Esparza feels toward the crisis and those navigating it.
“Our efforts have to go beyond just discounting services to the general public,” said Esparza.
Geographic Client Impacts
Working in a global marketplace opens many opportunities, and can be a good diversification strategy during times of crisis. However, many businesses are feeling the effects of serving clients in the hardest-hit areas of the world. They are finding ways to serve these clients, or in some cases practicing patience while their valued customers put business on hold.
One such respondent is Matt Crowley of Vesper Technologies, an acoustic sensors company that works closely with customers in Asia. Crowley has seen “delayed projects and sales starting in January.”
Crowley finds the company addressing both the halt in work from some clients and the need to change operations here at home. Crowley says the company has “set up remote work capability and put lab equipment in employee homes” in response to social distancing requirements.
Ashley Hill of Ashleyidesign has also seen the effects on global clients.
“I have a client who primarily does business in Italy in person, and because of this is shut down and had to lay me off until they’re back up and running,” said Hill. “I’m not sure when this is going to be so I am looking for alternative ways to make up the difference for that retainer income.”
For Hill’s part, transparency is part of keeping client connections, “Letting my clients know that I’m taking every precaution against the virus, and creating a backup plan in case I do get sick and need to transfer my services.”
Branko Kral of B King Digital had some insight to share about how businesses are navigating the issues at hand, and the upside of streamlining businesses during uncertain times.
“We’ve lost a client for the time being,” said Kral. “They were quite a chaotic one anyway though, and we actually got two projects confirmed the same day. Both of those are in health & fitness ecommerce.”
Says Kral, “I do believe that companies who were already frantic are acting in intense and stressed out ways more so than others. Companies who know their products or services are essential even in the time of crisis, or even more essential now, have been reacting quite calmly so far.”
For Kral, the services B King provides become more important and finer-tuned during these times.
“We’re in analytical SEO and now we’ve been looking for new ways to monetize on the value of the traffic we bring to our clients’ website. One of them would be to use the knowledge we acquire from client projects to create our own downloadable resources on our website – such as templates and checklists.”
This streamlining will guide important near-term and long-term goals and decisions. “We’re putting more energy into industries that we think will benefit from the societal shift. E.g. online health experts and SEO tools.”
Reduced Client Marketing Needs
For companies that offer print and digital marketing services, the effects of coronavirus on clients are causing a ripple effect. Donna Duncan of B-SeenOnTop says, “I provide SEO and content marketing services to small business owners. Eighty percent of those businesses have suspended planned work in recognition and anticipation of reduced income and demand for future services. Business has dried up!”
To deal with this sudden shift, Duncan says “I am proactively reaching out to customers to let them know where we are in terms of month-to-date expenditures and asking if they want work to continue. I am letting them know we have the ability to continue to work remotely and suggesting, if they have the capital, now is a good time to gain some ground against their competitors. While this might not lead to continued short-term work, it keeps the line of communication open and lets them know we’re here for them when they’re ready.”
David Kranker of David Kranker Creative has seen the impacts immediately. “I’ve had clients quit already in anticipation of slower economic activity. Even though marketing is more important than ever in tough economic times, marketing is often the first thing companies cut when times get hard.”
Kranker is focusing on what can be done to help clients during the pandemic. “I’ve sent out educational information to clients on how important marketing and digital marketing is at this time when the only way people can shop is online. I’ve also started focusing more efforts on my sales pipeline and generating new leads and new deals.”
Filip Silobod of Honest Marketing, Ireland. “The demand for marketing services has been reduced a lot because of the situation. Companies are more looking at how to survive than invest.”
For now, Silobod says they are, “Focusing on the businesses that can do well in this situation like ecommerce businesses, online networking, content writing and creating a strategy for post recessions.”
Physical marketing, usually seen as an excellent way to connect, has taken a hit in the wake of social distancing.
Stuart Dixon of RoboQuill says, “Many of our clients use our handwritten letter service to promote events. We have seen a sharp fall in sales due to all events being canceled. We’re looking at ways how we can diversify into other market areas to help with the shortfall.”
To react, Dixon has been “Thinking outside the box in terms of our route to market and the services we offer, and looking at ways how we can raise the level of our PR in these unprecedented times to help others in difficulty get through.”
Event cancellation has hit some businesses hard. Alistair Dodds of Ever Increasing Circles shares, “ We’ve had a number of key clients cancel events that we provide content and production for. As such, we’ve been working fast to find alternative client opportunities and new business opportunities to ensure we can continue to support and pay our workforce through the difficult months ahead.”
For Dodds, preparing means “Emergency scenario planning and forecasting. Crunching the numbers on different income scenarios and outcomes.”
Much of that planning is based on variables that aren’t currently known. “Are we going to be on lockdown for 2 weeks, a month, 2 months, 6 months, etc? How will that impact sales? What contingencies do we have in place if team members become ill for a prolonged period? Basically trying to get a handle on how we can continue operating dependent on the current scenarios being discussed by the WHO and national governments.”
The same has proven true for Alexander Porter of SearchItLocal, who says, “As a marketing agency, we rely on sales to stay solvent. Already, we are noticing a trend of hesitance from leads at every stage of their personal buyer’s funnel. Even those on the verge of investing in marketing are stepping back citing the uncertainty surrounding Coronavirus. This is impacting sales, and somewhat concerning, the situation in Australia isn’t yet out of control. So the decrease in businesses investing in marketing may get much worse before it gets better. To manage this we are looking into restructuring packages, though at this time it’s too early to tell what long-term impact the sudden drop in consumer confidence will have.”
“To counter this, says Porter, “we are creating free guides to help businesses meet the changing nature of their markets. These resources combine the WHO and Australian Government’s latest guidelines on the Corona Virus pandemic, with practical marketing strategies to help small businesses survive in challenging times. These will be given away for free to make sure our current clients and prospects are all equipped with the skills they need to move forward.”
Stephan Roussan of ICVM Group, Inc. shares, “We had quite a bit of work related to helping clients who were appearing at or sponsoring upcoming events. All such events were canceled, and the projects abandoned.”
It’s not all bad news, says Roussan, “We picked up some work helping clients with their own COVID-19 communications and marketing response. Because we are already virtualized and prepared, we’ve been able to lend assistance to non-profit organizations within our community that are particularly vulnerable.”
“We are being very diligent in our operations with cash on hand so that we can prolong operations without accumulating debt for as long as possible. Not only do we not want to cut any personnel, we know we will need them all (and then some) when the crisis abates because the demand for our services will be backlogged. We know from our experience after the 2008 crisis how fiercely it comes roaring back, so we want to make sure we are in a position to accommodate that surge. The difficult thing right now is that we have no idea how long that will take. In the interim, we will piece it together as best we can and — more than anything — do our part to keep our employees and community healthy.”
Where negotiation is usually a nuanced conversation, things have become much more cut and dried in the new business landscape. Gregory Heilers of Jolly SEO says, “We are just now seeing explicitly stated sales objections in the form of, ‘I’m very interested, but with the coronavirus situation, I need to hold off and see. Let’s circle back in a month.’ Certainly, there are several more, similar cases who aren’t stating that reason as explicitly.”
Says Heilers, “The only way to react to that, is through empathy. Cash flow over the next few months is a very understandable concern. We have also delayed a marketing initiative out of an abundance of caution, to ensure we have enough cash on hand for payroll even if 100% of clients default on invoices.”
Heilers is combatting the effects of the downturn with good preparation. “We have three months of payroll in the bank. To extend that runway, we two co-owners are taking pay cuts to supply an additional 50% of payroll each month, as long as our personal financial situations allow. As marketers, we have a duty to educate and inform those who need direction when the waters are murky. So that’s our focus at this time.”
Helping clients navigate those murky waters is Elijah Litscher of The Loop Marketing. “Our business is digital marketing, and we have had concerns from clients who have had a mix of Paid Search and SEO/Content Marketing that their immediate business prospects are drying up (i.e. massage therapy studios). We are recommending rebalancing their client spend towards away from PPC and towards building a stronger authority and content profile.”
Niching down is often seen as an advantage for a variety of service-based industries, including marketing, writing, consulting, and coaching. But several industries like travel, hospitality, food service, and tourism have seen businesses shuttered virtually overnight, with no timeline for recovery. For the businesses that serve these industries—directly or indirectly— the ripple effect of Covid has been especially challenging.
Susan Fagnano of Aveanna Healthcare has felt this effect keenly, in a business where human proximity is vital to both the client and the organization. “We are an in-home healthcare business. Many of our staff have children that are no longer in school, therefore they are not currently working and our in-care hours are dropping severely. Our nurses are out of PPE and are putting themselves and their clients in danger. There are shortages on the most necessary items with no relief in sight.”
Data snapshot: While the world goes remote, 1 in 4 of our experts perform roles that make them and their contracts susceptible to contracting the virus. For some, like Susan Fagnano mentioned above, employees are on the frontlines of the virus, providing essential services to clients who cannot be without them.
Vasyl Kafidov of Writing Metier is experiencing this in one such industry. “Our business is partially related to educational support activities,” says Kafidov. “We assist students and professors from all over the world. Therefore, the current quarantine due to COVID-19 in universities and schools worldwide has already impacted the number of leads and sales we receive daily. If we check statistics from the previous month comparing to current, we can see a decrease of 39% of activities, and we can see that, unfortunately, it’s getting lower.”
Says Kafidov, “Still, we are glad we can help students and professors who continue their studies online. Meanwhile, I would like to say personal thanks to the educational world and institutions that have been prepared to move their learning process from offline to online. Otherwise, we would have lost both our current and prospective clients due to the quarantine.”
The shift to remote work has been a natural one for Kafidov and the team. “First of all, our team at WritingMetier has been prepared to work from home even before it became a ‘mainstream.’ Still, each day we search for new ways, and the best solutions to increase the productivity of each part of our team by using different software that helps us work from home. We use various tools like Zoom to make conferences and meetings online. Also, our analytics are investigating the situation carefully to be ready for further changes.”
As for advice, Kafidov has outlined the heart of its approach. “The crucial and the one thing, in my personal opinion, during the current quarantine and worldwide isolation is to stay positive, no matter what you read and watch each day on TV and social media.” To do this, “we have made a daily newsletter for our team where they can find positive news regarding coronavirus. Now we have one person in our company who collects all positive changes and collect a list of positive changes and movements that happened in the world. We call her ‘our light at the end of the tunnel.’”
The best defense to industry issues is a good offense, says Keri Jaehnig of Idea Girl Media, who says their business has not been affected … yet. “However, as a preventative measure, I tried to connect myself with clients that would be mainly ‘recession-proof’ in their niches, and also diversified my streams of revenues. Let’s see if I have been successful.”
Cultivating new alliances and collaborative partnerships is key, says Jaehnig. “I’ll be offering informational sessions for new contacts and their teams to offer value and inspire pathways for new future projects.”
Myrna Arroyo of Pepper Inbound Marketing supports clients in the hardest-hit industry: Travel. “I am cutting all expenses and trying to help my clients make the right decisions to get through this crisis. I’m trying to stay positive and focus on being of service and offering value to my clients. Because the world is basically closed to travel, these companies are struggling with layoffs and having to cut expenses, including my fees.”
Says Arroyo, “I’ve tried to do my part to save the long term relationship by allowing flexibility and reducing my fees/hours as much as I can. I value these relationships and I want to do my part. I’ve also volunteered to help the small players in the industry with messaging and limited consulting, but it’s nearly impossible for me to sell services to this niche right now, and just not appropriate. My retainers were cut by 50% last week, and my clients are struggling with layoffs and lack of revenue.”
The most effective solution now, says Arroyo? “I’m staying in front of my clients and prospects with advice, tips, and ideas on marketing messages that would be good to put out at this time. I’m exploring other verticals outside of the travel industry, but really not sure what will come of it since the shutdown is affecting so many sectors of the economy.”
Alice Bedward of Flyparks also serves the airline and travel industries. “Due to travel restrictions, many of our customers have canceled their airport parking bookings. We’ve processed cancellations for August reservations, which signals to us that some consumers fear that this situation/the travel restrictions will continue for many months to come. In response, we have highlighted the benefits of our cancellation insurance, we enable customers to cancel or modify their booking on short notice, and receive a full refund of the purchase price if their travel plans ultimately fall through.”
Supporting customers through this time, Bedward says, will pay dividends when the pandemic subsides. “We have made our cancellation and refund policy clear, and provided advice to customers who have bookings in the near future. We realize that many people’s travel plans have been impacted by circumstances outside of their control, and are working with customers to find solutions. In terms of the future, we are working on developing ways in which customers can modify/cancel their own bookings, to lighten the load on our customer service team.”
Sumitra Senapaty of WOW Club has seen this effect firsthand. “As a tour company, we have definitely been impacted, as our current and potential customers cannot travel during this health crisis. Not only does it affect current bookings, but not too many people are planning travel for the future, as things are still too uncertain.”
Says Senapaty, “For now, the most important thing that we can do is treat our customers fairly and with compassion. Looking forward to travel is a pretty big deal for people, and having that adventure in limbo can be difficult. We will continue to monitor the situation and provide the most up-to-date, accurate information as we can to our customers so that they are prepared and well-educated.”
Alysha Schultz of Intuitive Digital says of serving travel customers, “We had four clients who are public service or travel-based cancel services immediately. We waived our 30-day notice and any cancellation fees that might have normally applied. We know they’re only doing this because they’re being hit hard, and need the cash (most often to ensure they can keep paying employees). We hope they’re able to return as clients in the future. But mostly that just seemed like the right thing to do.”
Working for another deeply impacted industry, Joseph Pineiro of 360training has had to turn to support over education for their clients. “Our Learn2Serve food handler’s e-courses have seen a heavy drop in purchases do to restaurants closing and laying off employees. We’ve posted a blog post about Coronavirus prevention for restaurants and are considering promoting a page indicating we will match all donations to the bartending emergency assistance program.”
Susie Kelley of Spot On says healthcare changes have also impacted their business. “Two healthcare SaaS companies were developing consumer-based product launch which has been paused.”
Another impact, says Kelley, “Consolidating websites from acquired companies into one that was to begin in Q2 has been put on hold. PPC Ad spend has been decreased.” Internally, Kelley says headcount and salaries are also impacted. “[We’re] not replacing our creative director who is leaving, and interviewing white label agencies to have in place if needed. This should reduce payroll overhead.”
The consumer goods market has taken a hit, says Ronald D’souza of Angel Jackets. “People are focused on health care items rather than impulsive products such as clothing, shoes, and jewelry. There is no way to counter this at the moment except for serving your existing customers. Secondly, our focus is mainly on the things that can help us in the long run such as SEO rather than paid advertising.”
Working with what you have has become the new game plan for D’souza, “We’ve increased the stocks of our top 10 best selling items that would last more than three months. Secondly, we offered our staff the option to work from home. We also encouraged the use of a Kanban-style tool for collaborations and increased productivity at home.”
Just as deeply impacted as travel, is hospitality. Joris Brabants of Apicbase their ideal customers, “aren’t looking for our solution at all now because of the fact that they have to shut down. Existing sales cycles are being postponed, and we see a decrease in hot leads.”
Shifting the focus for clients has helped, says Brabants, “They have time to invest in things they wouldn’t have the time for when their business is open, so we organize online training sessions on how they can optimize their bottom line. We teach them how they can not only control their food cost but reduce it by optimizing procurement & inventory, reviewing their recipes.”
“Twice a week people can join dedicated sessions on food cost control and reduction, how to interpret your sales analytics, how to leverage POS data, menu engineering.”
Planning for the light at the end of the tunnel has helped the pipeline, says Brabants, “In order to still close deals, and not to restart the sales cycle over again when the measures are gone, we offer them the option to sign now but only start paying as soon as they’re back in business. This also gives them the time to set themselves up properly with Apicbase.”
Angela Ash of Flow SEO has not yet felt the full impact, though some of their clients are impacted. “For now, most of our clients are able to still supply their services online and continue business as close to normal as possible. However, when dealing with clients in the travel industry, there are definitely obstacles to overcome at this point, and unfortunately, the ‘pause’ button has been hit on many options.”
Keeping the connection and serving with excellence is key during these challenging times, says Ash. “We are ensuring that we provide our clients with the same level of superb customer service, as always. However, we are taking special care to be as transparent as possible with our strategies, including how staying the course for SEO and Outreach is still extremely important. These types of strategies take time to build, so ‘taking a break is never suggested,’ as you may be feeling the effects of that decision right when things are getting back to normal, and it’s more important than ever.”
Niles Koenigsberg of FiG Advertising + Marketing serves local businesses, another industry that has seen an immediate and widespread impact. “As a small marketing agency, our marketers are heavily involved in local chamber events and other networking opportunities. As more and more of these events are canceled, we are making a more conscious effort to maintain our connections in a remote fashion. In the coming weeks, our marketers will be taking our one-on-ones online via Zoom and Skype and we’ll be attending whichever virtual meetings that we can to maintain those connections.”
Koenigsberg says of this challenge, “ In a time when consumer confidence is dropping, marketing is all the more important. We can expect that many of our service-based clients will suffer from the economic impact of the COVID-19 virus, as fewer consumers will feel inclined to visit local small businesses for their services. All that we can really do, as a small marketing agency, is work more diligently to drive leads to our clients. We’ll be doing all that we can from SEO and PPC standpoints to drive more consumers to our clients’ websites.”
Emily Brereton of Napkins-Only has felt the effects upon all niches they currently serve. “Our clients are almost exclusively in the foodservice, hospitality, and events industries, and expectedly… they have nearly all shut down for the time being. We manage by simply being open and available for those that can and do order.” To stay viable until things open up again, “We are increasing our SEO and content marketing efforts. We hope to weather the storm by increasing our online visibility.”
Says Shane Hebzynski of 3 Cats Labs, “All of our upcoming tourism/hospitality projects have been postponed. We took it in stride and are shifting our focus to industries that are seeing benefits from the pandemic.” One silver lining, says Hebzynski, “We were already a business that emphasized working remotely, so now it’s the encouraging of social distancing.”
When things shift, shift with them. This is the wisdom at play for a few of our experts, including Markelle Harden of Knowmad Digital Marketing.
“Many of our clients use industry events as news topics and blog topics,” said Harden. “Since those events have been canceled, we’re encouraging our clients to continue to publish information about the postponements and cancelations. Even if the event isn’t happening right now, people are still curious and searching for information.”
Aalap Shah of 1o8, says “We are offering as much support we can to our clients even if they are pausing their efforts or providing comprehensive transition documents so there is continuity from their investment. Internally, we are reducing costs, pausing new investments, and spending time developing our own IP.”
This sudden change in the landscape has also spurred consideration of shifts internally. “For the future, I would hope that we are more set up for a fully remote team and virtual workforce so we can work from anywhere at a moment’s notice. I also would like to consider building a few internal propriety tools so we can further differentiate in the marketplace.”
Networking, Meetings, and Supply Chain Interruptions
In-person discovery meetings, kickoffs, and client visits are the lifeblood of business in many industries. In the wake of the coronavirus, some of our experts have experienced major disruptions to business as usual, either directly or through their client relations.
Even the simplest interactions have been altered by Coronavirus, says Lisa Hall of CityLink, who cites that they “No longer exchange money.” The firm has been aggressively cleaning/disinfecting to reduce risk.
Ricky Wolff of Markletic for one has seen business significantly altered by the swift changes taking place. “We had to cancel many events and conferences. We have transformed these events into virtual conferences and that has been a life-saver for us.” To combat this, says Wolff, “We are investing heavily in the ability to network virtually through tools and virtual events.”
TJ Kelly of RaySecur, Inc. has also had to change the way business is conducted. “We typically visit our customers on-site and provide in-person training on our products. Thanks to COVID-19, we can’t do that. To compensate, we recorded a series of generalized training videos to send customers in lieu of in-person training. We hope that these videos, coupled with live web conference calls, will provide a positive, if less thorough, experience while we wait out the virus.
“We’re being as proactive as possible in contacting our customers and prospects, explaining that our products and support services are still 100% operational. We’re also attempting to gently remind prospects that, given our place in the security industry, our products align with the current pervasive mentality of ‘protect our people and assets from an invisible threat.’”
Matt Seltzer of S2 Research as well, as seen “all of my in-person meetings have become virtual.” The changes have given Seltzer an opportunity to communicate on the impact. “I’m publishing an article today with my thoughts on next steps for clients.”
Hope Ashley of UpFlip has also seen this effect, “The virus is making it difficult for in-person meetings. We are actively utilizing apps like Zoom, Skype and Google Hangouts as much as possible. However, some people who aren’t that tech-savvy aren’t quite so eager to give it a try. We definitely see the need to become much more in touch with technology, and a much bigger objective in the future.”
Says Ashley, “The main thing now is to keep networking and pushing forward. We are still actively implementing SEO and pursuing Outreach techniques so that we are ready when things get back to a better sense of ‘normal.’ It never pays to fall behind your competition – under any circumstances.”
M. Ammar Shahid of SuperHeroCorp has felt this interruption of in-person events in several ways. “Our sales have dropped drastically, impacting the company’s operating funds. Moreover, our company has even paid us a half-month salary in the wake of the pandemic.”
“Since we are running an online store and dealing with offshore customers, we are also facing severe shipment delays and supply chain issues because of the suspension of commercial activities.”
To cope up with the situation, says Shahid, “we are approaching some returning customers by offering them some extraordinary promotions to place orders after making advance payment and realizing that the products will be shipped to them but will take some time. Up to some extent, this tactic is found to be responsive.”
Internally, says Shahid, “We are going to prioritize contingency funds and maintain them relatively higher. Besides, we are also planning to carry out proper health concern training for our staff to better understand and deal with the unusual epidemic issues.”
In some cases, the sales process is not an obstacle to closing.
Zhaneta Gechev of One Stop Life Insurance says, “I am a life insurance agent. My agency helps clients secure life insurance strictly over the phone. We do not have agents meeting with clients face to face. However, many of the insurance policies will require a medical exam as part of the underwriting process. As of today, many labs are either closed or working reduced hours. We’ve advised our customers that they might not be able to schedule their medical exams for at least the beginning of April.”
The restrictions have forced Gechev and the team to shift product offerings. “We are a remote agency and do not rely on face to face agents. Currently, we are shifting our focus to no medical exam life insurance products and setting up realistic expectations that application times will take longer than usual.”
Gabriel Marguglio of Nextiny says, “Cancellations and things put on pause: We had to cancel our own events, sales opportunities have been put on pause, our customers have canceled events, and even some have canceled projects. We are helping our customers with everything we can. We are offering our help with things that we wouldn’t normally do, for example, help setting up remote work tools (zoom, PandaDoc, google docs, etc) and help them communicate better with their teams and customers. In times of crisis, we need to help each other as much as possible. Now is the time to be flexible and add value to our partnerships more than ever.”
As they help customers, Marguglio says, Nextiny is also shoring up up its own positions.
“[We] canceled all non-necessary travel, events, and extra costs, paused our hiring process, canceled software we didn’t use, and reviewed our budget for 2020 to save as much as possible.”
This has also been the case for Datis Mohsenipour of Outback Team Building & Training. “Many of the events that we had booked are being postponed given the nature of our business – team building & training. We’ve pivoted to focus on our remote/virtual team building and training services and are offering 50% off to help businesses keep employee morale and social engagement up during these trying times.” Mohsenipour said the company is also cutting discretionary expenditures to secure finances in the short-term.
Sometimes, the conference that’s canceled is yours. This is the case for William Chin of MyWifeQuitHerJob – eCommerce Blog. “We have a yearly conference (7 Figure eCommerce summit), hosted by our founder Steve Chou. We needed to cancel it.”
Data Snapshot: The immediate reaction to social distancing mandates has been the cancellation or virtualization of hundreds of tradeshows and events. In a high-profile move, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Japanese Government announced yesterday that the Tokyo Summer games would be postponed until 2021. For businesses that rely on in-person events to move the needle, these cancellations are the second prong of the impact felt by diminishing sales and funding.
Jonathan Aufray of Growth Hackers has also stopped doing in-person meetings with clients and team members.
“We do everything virtually and remotely,” said Aufray. “With tools like Slack, Zoom, and Monday.com, it’s not too complicated.” says Aufray, “We know that some clients will pause the collaboration during the crisis. That’s normal and understandable. With the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the priority should be on the health and well-being of everyone, and not the business. The safety and health of our customers and employees are of the utmost importance. We’re committed to providing our clients and employees with the best support possible during this uncertain time. This shows that we care about them so they can trust us and work with us again when things get back to normal.”
While the work can go on, Anastasia Iliou of Rain, the personal touch in meetings creates opportunities not available during social distancing. “We can do most of our selling remotely, but we’ve seen much of our success come from in-person sales appointments. Now, we don’t want to send our salespeople anywhere and clients are canceling or asking for virtual meetings. We’re having to adjust our product demo proceedings and come up with new ways to attract clients during virtual presentations.” Adaptation, therefore, becomes the order of the day, “We’re honing in on our virtual strategy. We’re amping up our presentation and making sure we have the best tools possible for Zoom meetings, such as branded backdrops and the best tech we can afford.”
Lindsey Winsemius of ApogeeINVENT has seen the strategy for an entire venture change as a result. “Our startup, CryptoComics, was scheduled to leverage several national events in the US to build momentum for our launch. The events have been canceled and we are looking for alternative digital ways to reach our audience, including ramping up our social media reach and paid advertising options online. We are also creating a referral program to encourage our current users to get the word out about our company.”
However, Winsemius is trying to see the opportunity within the challenge. “‘Be fearful when others are greedy; greedy when others are fearful.’” This quote by Warren Buffet summarizes our current plan during this initial phase of the Coronavirus impact. While we still can, we plan to keep our marketing study, or even ramp up our digital marketing efforts while other businesses are limiting theirs. During an economic downturn, you’ll find that you will have less competition, which means it is easier and faster to get results, and in some cases, you’ll be able to get deals, such as a potential reduction in pay-per-click advertising.”
“We run team building activities for clients like Amazon, Google and Facebook,” says Michael Alexis of teambuilding.com. “Until recently, we ran all of these events at client offices, conference spaces and third-party locations like museums. Within a week or so, nearly all of our scheduled events canceled and we had no new bookings coming in. We’ve initiated temporary layoffs for some staff, and are launching new business offerings to help bring back revenue.
To respond to the change, “We launched virtual team building activities for remote teams as a new product offering. This service is location independent and built for remote workers. We facilitate the meetings over Zoom and similar platforms, which include online team-building games, training on how to work and manage remotely, and similar. When people do return to offices, we will be able to serve our clients both with our in-person events and also virtual offerings.”
Paige Arnof-Fenn of Mavens & Moguls is seeing change come during what should be a peak season. “Spring is typically a very busy time with many events, trade shows, business meetings on the road, etc. And for the past month, everyone is staying put and meeting virtually instead. I have had more Zoom and Skype calls in the past 10 days than the prior 6 months!”
Says Arnof-Fenn offers readers an excellent overview of what to do next. “This is a great time to build your small business through online marketing and social media. Social media and technology are 24/7 so it is easy to get sucked into it but you do not have to let it run your life! My advice is to pick a few things you enjoy doing and do them really well. You cannot be everywhere all the time so choose high impact activities that work for you and play to your strengths. For example, Content Marketing and Thought Leadership are great ways to build your brand, increase your visibility more broadly, raise your profile and attract more clients/customers.”
“Activities like writing articles, hosting webinars, podcasts and building your following on social media all contribute to increasing your awareness with potential customers and building your credibility with a larger community. Instead of trying to start your own blog or newsletter, try contributing regularly to existing well-trafficked blogs in your industry or newsletters of like-minded organizations reaching the same target audience as you. Make sure you put your URL or contact info on it so they can find you and follow up. When your articles become available online, make sure to send them out via social media to all your friends, followers and contacts. Don’t let social media drive you crazy, you do not need to be everywhere, it does not matter which platform you choose, just pick one or two that are authentic to you. It should look and sound like you and the brand you have built. Whether yours is polished or more informal, chatty or academic, humorous or snarky, it is a way for your personality to come through. Everyone is not going to like you or hire you but for the ones who would be a great fit for you make sure they feel and keep a connection and give them a reason to remember you so that when they need your help they think of you first. Start small and build as you go.
“For me, I started with small publications then moved up the food chain to reach bigger audiences. People need to be on LinkedIn so that they can be found too. It adds credibility and transparency when you know the people you are meeting or working with knowledgeable people in common. LinkedIn has become more than an online resume or Rolodex, it is the foundation for building trusted relationships in the digital economy. You do not need to blog or be on all social media platforms but make sure you are active on the ones where you are. If your customers do not use Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to find you then you do not need to make them a priority. For many professional service businesses like mine, LinkedIn matters the most.”
Supply Chain and Shipping
The physical restrictions of the virus have had a considerable and widespread impact on business for several of our experts, whose businesses rely on goods and services deliveries both domestically and internationally.
For instance, the restrictions have presented several challenges for Joseph Giranda of CFR Rinkens.
“The coronavirus has caused disruption in our industry in a number of ways,” said Giranda. “First, vessel schedules are fluctuating. Second, we are experiencing a shortage of 45-foot containers, many of which come from China. Lastly, we were planning to attend The Premier Conference for International Container Shipping, which was supposed to occur March 1st – 4th. However, in light of growing concerns around the coronavirus, the conference was canceled. This decision was made following recent guidance from health officials and in light of the rapid growth in global cases of COVID-19, in particular in the Western United States, as well as increasing travel restrictions and other circumstances. In addition, the Automotive Logistics conference in China and Geneva have been canceled/postponed as well.”
CFR Rinkens has had to respond to the virus in almost every facet of operations.
“Certain procedures have been implemented at our office,” said Rinkens. “Human Resources is closely monitoring updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to prevent the spread of COVID-19. All surfaces, door handles, and equipment are now disinfected at the end of each working day. We have also provided the option for employees to work remotely, along with providing lunches so that employees that do come in don’t have to leave our offices for their meals. We have locations worldwide and a challenge that we have worked to overcome is how to arrange for travels in a safe manner and cutting back on any travels that can be postponed. The cancellation of events and conferences has posed us with needing to search for alternative networking opportunities to maintain relationship building with other businesses and clients.”
With a business seated at the intersection of food service and shipping logistics, Tasia Duske of Tea vs Coffee has faced similar challenges.
“Our supply chain has become more complicated,” said Duske. “We need to order items like coffee and tea in bulk, and this is becoming challenging with the priorities in Amazon’s service. This challenge is understood and appreciated, it is just challenging for small businesses that don’t already have large inventories. To manage this, we’ve been ordering what we can when it is available, and also letting our customers know there may be an additional wait time.”
Says Duske, “We’ve been somewhat reliant on a few beverage varieties. With the shift in the workforce to more remote teams, we think there is an opportunity to diversify our options further. We plan to make larger orders than we usually would so that we can hold the inventory we need. This is a financial investment upfront that we hope will have strong returns later.”
With freezes in hiring, promotion, and relocation, Zak Mustapha of Centauri Relocations says, “As a service accommodation provider in Manchester, UK we have had tons of cancellations from guests and have had to lower our nightly rates and search for long stay bookings in order for us to be able to break even and survive this wave. We will be focusing on longer-term tenants/guests in the future who will stay for long periods of time in order to avoid these major cancellations in the future.”
Kunal Bhatia of SlidesUp says, “We help people plan internal and external events at their company in zen mode with SlidesUp. Because our collaboration software + professional services were mostly being used by businesses planning in-person events, most of our deals got postponed or canceled. We’ve had to take swift measures to reduce burn so that we can survive through this period – office rent, tools, services, renegotiating or canceling contracts that we can live without.”
The mission for Bhatia has not changed as a result of the pandemic. “We’re helping our customers and the community adjust their event strategy and still hit some goals with our hotline (978.225.0852). Sometimes that means moving to virtual events, other times its different channels. We try to help in any way because it’s the right thing to do, even if it’s not bringing us business. It’s a core habit we’re building – building community – and we’d like to stay true to that habit. We’re also working hard to message how we can help with virtual events, as we anticipate this climate to remain the same over the next 6-9 months.”
Similarly, Ward van Gasteren of Grow with Ward knows that while the venue has changed, the opportunity has not diminished. “Workshops will be canceled, but… We also know that people are in front of their laptops all day: Giving a huge opportunity for online workshops, providing people with edutainment during their boredom moments and seeing that people are way more open to joining another video all during their day.”
While pursuing this modified business objective, van Gasteren has taken time to diversify income streams within the business to soften the effect of volatility.
Supply Chain and Manufacturing Effects
Olivier Houart of Smartoperations offers this advice to readers: “Think about collaborative distribution in your supply chain. This can involve shared warehousing space as well as co-delivery. This is particularly effective where you and another business share many common customers. You can check with your transport/storage partners and it is a good way to maintain services, be more efficient and cut costs.”
To mitigate the financial ramifications, says Houart, “Invest in declining blue chips. I, fortunately, have some cash in the end and planned to invest in declining blue-chip stocks as I don’t see another way to counterbalance the drop in activity. To reduce the risk, I will be picky and only invest in activities and financials I understand and based on my personal analysis of the fundamentals (market and finance), and it is in my currency so I have no currency risks. I will invest a third of my cash in it as I still consider it as risky and it is an amount I have to be able to lock for a longer period.”
Bobby Vickers of Brennan Enterprises says, “In-home appointments are being canceled” Instead, Vickers is busy “establishing a team zoom account and training our field reps on how to use the software to provide presentations”
Roman Takáč of Teron Solutions has “stopped training customers, as well as acquisition activity” In addition, Teron is reviewing dividend payments for 2019, and increasing the reserve fund.
Data Snapshot: While in some roles employees are required to be present to conduct their tasks, the vast majority of employers have instructed their workforces to work at home where possible. In some cases, workers were already remote, though even in these cases they may be responding to changing communication and workflow requirements as other non-remote workers change their working locations.
This process, especially within a short timeframe, presents challenges in logistics, security, and communications. However, our respondents have undertaken these changes as swiftly and efficiently as possible in order to maintain continuity for clients and teams.
Challenges of Shifting to Remote Work
One of the biggest impacts of the social distancing mandate has been to send previously in-house teams into remote work.
Naturally, this has created a flurry of unexpected activity and planning, with teams accustomed to working face-to-face suddenly hitting a learning curve of remote tools and collaboration spaces in order to keep business as steady as possible.
Many respondents talked about this shift in their responses.
Some companies were remote before it became necessary and are weathering the transition well. Even so, remote-first companies often still keep HQ space, co-working space, or rely on in-person interaction for their sales functions. This has all changed in the wake of the virus and forced even remote-savvy firms to adapt.
Melanie Musson of CompareCarInsurance.com says, “Our company employees have always been remote workers who work from home. So, in a way, it’s been a smoother process than companies that have made the decision to have onsite employees shift to remote employees. There are still impacts. One is that our worker’s children are home, making it more difficult for our employees to schedule their time. Another is a more general difficulty to focus on each employee. There are more little mistakes than usual and less productivity for the time spent working.”
Team connection is helping, says Musson. “We are encouraging open sharing of coping strategies and difficulties through Slack. Being connected to others and being able to learn from others helps employees’ mental health and stress management.”
Many times, remote work is not a given, based on the industry or the management philosophy at play. However, Coronavirus has forced many of these companies to think on their feet in an effort to keep employees safe or to comply with state-mandated shelter-in-place order.
For these companies, this new way of work has presented challenges in execution and productivity. All are doing the best they can with the resources available to them on short notice.
Some are approaching remote work for the very first time, like Hannah Stevenson of UK Linkology. “As a precaution, UK Linkology has asked its team to work from home to limit the spread of the virus. This also reduces the impact the virus has on our staff and their loved ones, some of whom may be at risk if they contract Covid-19. We are managing remote working by setting routines, communicating via digital platforms such as Slack and Zoom, and limiting our distractions. All of this has helped us to ensure we’re still able to provide our customers with the service they expect from us.”
Dominic Kent of Mio says, “Mio has taken the decision to enforce remote working. Some of us were already remote. Others always had the choice to work remotely when they wanted/needed to. We use tools like Slack and Zoom inside the office already so change has been minimal.
This has been the case for Christina MacDonald of REMITR as well, who shares “Our entire team is working remotely. We typically all work as many EST hours as possible, which will need to increase. All meetings are via Zoom and our chats on Slack are more active. Our goal is to support as many small businesses as possible.”
There has been an expansion of the remote philosophy for some, including Emilia Chagas of GrowthHackers.
“Our team is distributed and we have offices in San Francisco and Brazil,” said Chagas. “60% of the team was remote and now we’re currently 100% working from home since March 12.” To ensure the continued solvency and efficiency of the company, “We’re reviewing the budget, doubling down in marketing and product promotions as well as cutting some expenses that can be postponed. Our annual conference in San Francisco was postponed from June to September as of now.”
Remote was somewhat familiar to Jakub Kliszczak and the team at Channels, as well. “For obvious reasons, our whole office was shut down and we were ordered to work from home. Yet, it’s not that big of a deal for our company as many of us have worked remotely before, just not on a full-time basis. Also, structure and proper tools help a lot during such times. We use ClickUp as our tasks management solution and we communicate mostly via Slack and Zoom. And, while it might sound silly, Slack’s statuses help communicate without having to write anything. With them you can indicate that you’re working on a certain project, going for a launch or having a meeting. Lastly, no matter what tool you use, find some way to incorporate casual talks into it. When chatting on Slack it may seem like everything has to be around business but that’s not how days look like while in the office. Crack a joke, write something casual and act as nothing has changed.”
Says Kliszczak, “To be honest, we’re working as usual. But that’s because we didn’t have any additional spendings and costs that could be cut. We did it before. Yet, I guess the first thing would be to cut some obvious costs like office space and software choices to optimize for what we really use and save as much as we could.”
Adjustments to schedules have helped ease the transition for Mor Mester and Automizy. “Working remotely. Adjusting our processes, schedules, tools, and guidelines on how people can work from home. We’re having two daily standups with the growth team and using Google Hangouts to make the calls needed. We’ve improved our project management and task tracking in Asana, so the. missing -in-person communication doesn’t hinder the daily work. Based on the needs, we’ll continue to adapt to this new way of working.”
Ali Ubaid Rajput of Decrum sees the shifts as necessary for both the business and its staff. “Resources—human or otherwise—are affected by a coronavirus, so we took major steps to work remotely and take safety precautions for it. We’ve tried to keep our employees motivated, and give them flexibility.”
The move to virtual life has somewhat affected the rhythm of business for AJ Alonzo of demandDrive.
“We’ve had to cancel in-person client kick-offs and move everything to virtual events,” said Alonzo. “In-person kick-offs are typically more impactful and effective for the longevity of our projects. Moving to virtual events has been tricky to manage, and don’t provide the same oomph as when we meet clients in person. It’s not the end of the world, but the little things can really compound over time.” Says Alonzo, “We’ve always had a ‘work from home’ clause in the employee handbook. It’s clear that we allowed employees to work from home if the circumstances called for it. However, the sudden onset of the virus forced us to roll out measures for an office-wide WFH strategy before being able to test them. I expect now that we will revise that clause to include a more lenient and open work from home policy, and to include measures about situations like this one where it’s no longer a privilege, but a necessity.”
The effect on flow for teams has been apparent, says Sam Olmsted of Online Optimism. “As a creative marketing agency, much of our work relies on collaboration among team members. Because everyone has been working from home, we have seen a decrease in this vital collaboration. We have worked extremely hard to create virtual spaces, meetings, and brainstorms to combat this and we are using tools to help us do so.”
Says Olmsted, “One thing our company is doing is completely self-isolating and working from home. Although we are all relatively young, we can be carriers of the virus and want to be extremely cautious. If one of us gets sick and we are together, there is a strong chance we will all fall ill.”
This has been the case for Taylor Cimala of Digital Third Coast. “As a digital marketing agency, we’re used to having flexibility in location, but we’ve never had to close our office completely for an extended period of time. Communication is the biggest change – many more intentional touchpoints with the team, and more mindfulness with management and what everyone is going through individually at home. From a service perspective, we are developing a new offering geared towards smaller, localized businesses to meet the demands of companies re-entering the marketplace after having to cut back.”
The virus has meant increased care for the numbers as well, says Cimala. “I would say the biggest thing that can be changed is cash flow and how money is managed. Having several months’ worth of salaries in the bank is a must for balancing slow accounts receivables from larger clients at times, but having a plan for how money is deposited into the bank accounts is necessary as well. If you can’t go to the office, you can’t get the checks to deposit. Having a backup plan for ACH or temporarily accepting credit cards can help keep cash flowing.”
Maksym Babych of SpdLoad has switched to 100% remote mode since the pandemic began to spread. Babych gave advice modeled on the policies SpdLoad has instituted itself.
“All non-essential work-related trips, including conferences, should be canceled or postponed unless approved by an executive,” said Babych. “Remote employees should cancel all scheduled trips to the X office, until further notice. All on-site and off-site events should be canceled. Postpone team events and off-sites until further notice.”
In-house life, if still occurring, should also undergo changes. Says Babych of company lunches, “Companies should pause the usage of catering services. All the cafes and restaurants should be closed as well.”
As for keeping up with the routines of office life, “Permit your employees to take office equipment home, including monitors, laptops, and PCs. All on-site interviews should be transitioned to Zoom interviews. Hiring managers should reach out to the new hires ahead of their start date. They should discuss plans for onboarding and any changes impacted by remote work.”
Dallin Hatch of Womply has said the change has been a challenge. “We’ve had to learn how to be an agile, remote team on the fly. Something that we weren’t preparing for, but we’re working our way through.”
Data Snapshot: The answers our experts provide on the effect already apparent served as a broad survey of the potential impacts now being (or soon to be felt) by businesses as numbers rise and mandated closures become more commonplace. The two charts below address the range of financial ramifications businesses have already experienced, and those they consider as having the potential to affect financial performance in the near future.
Hatch says the company is focusing not on what it must change, but what it must do for others.
“We want to help our 450,000+ customers and millions of other local businesses weather this storm,” said Hatch. “So, we’ve launched a stimulus program called Stimulus 2020. It gives local business owners access to $1,000 of capital interest-free and without a fee, so they can pay bills, purchase inventory or supplies, invest in marketing, or pay employees. The program also gives local businesses access to Womply Free so they can make better business decisions and benchmark themselves against other businesses nearby.”
Catherine Way of Hard Money Lenders Arizona says, “Our Business hasn’t been impacted yet, as we were already completely virtual.”
Says Way, “With the real estate market, we are more interested in the long term effect this may have on the housing market, and if this will slow down aspects of our business as other services move to a virtual environment. We are preparing our service lines to make it as independent as possible so that we can handle our service completely from start to finish.”
Remote concerns are taking a back seat to financial concerns for the team of April Sullivan at EntreLeverage.
“Anxiety levels are high with my team and they are concerned about money,” said Sullivan. “I’ve been having one on one Zoom sessions to see how I, as the leader of the business, can help make things less stressful and that our focus remains on helping clients get what they need.” This event has made the company into support for other businesses and entrepreneurs. “Sharing with my followers and businesses that I can help, and how important it is for them to stay in business, that as a virtual support business, we are here to help them through it all.”
Some companies that hadn’t previously gone remote are fully engaging with the changes needed, says Ken Marshall of Doorbell Digital Marketing
“My company is part of a non-equity based accelerator in a coworking space that has been dramatically affected by the Coronavirus,” said Marshall. “This has been a somewhat noticeable blow to morale and the flow of each day. However, due to my team being remote, it’s only made me double down on structures, processes, and ensuring that my team is empowered to great work for our existing clients during this time.”
Says Marshall, “Right now I am doubling down on training/hiring the right people for my business and creating a deeper set of processes to ensure client success, present, and future. I believe that by helping guide our clients and their growth strategies, coupled with strengthening my relationship with my team, that we can properly hedge against the surrounding economic fluctuations.”
Data Snapshot: One of the main challenges of treating the Covid-19 pandemic is mirrored in business’ ability to react; it’s a matter of speed. We wanted to learn whether businesses believed their internal efforts— and the larger government response— were moving at all deliberate speed. The answers, which are not broken out by geographic location, reveal interesting sentiments about the speed of response.
Andrew Clark of Duckpin shared, “My agency began late last week making arrangements to have the entire team work remotely. This planning included checking that our laptops and other equipment were in good shape before heading out, as well as doing a deep clean of the office. Additionally, the Duckpin team set-up a recurring video conference event for our weekly meetings, which double as keeping projects on-track and providing some connection during social isolation.”
“As an agency,” says Clark, “we’ve been in daily contact with one another to retain a sense of connection and solidarity to keep morale up. Also, the leadership team has been speaking throughout the day to keep updated on different clients and issues that may arise with remote work.”
For some, the change to remote came as a matter of jurisdiction.
Joan Malata of Marketing Media Cloud has had to switch to remote quickly as a result.
“Our government is implementing a community quarantine which limits our staff’s ability to work at the office since it suspends all modes of public transportation,” said Malata. “So, we recommended them to work from home and ensure that they have the resources they needed to work efficiently and at the same time, keeping them safe from getting infected. For our clients, we informed them that some of our staff are working from home to ensure all their projects are still covered by our company.”
For Malata, it’s about the team, and about the ability to deliver safely and effectively. “Our staff’s health is our priority. So, in case there’s a more negative impact on business, potentially, we advise all our staff to strictly work from home.”
Quarantine has also shifted the landscape for Patrick Garde of ExaWeb Corporation.
“Our government has already implemented community quarantine which restricts travel and requires us to stay at home,” said Garde. “We are able to manage it by allowing our employees to work at home. Since we are in the digital marketing industry, we can work remotely and can still provide our service to our clients.” The financial issues are more pressing than the working environment, says Garde “We are looking for a way to secure additional funding or a credit line to prepare our business moving forward if ever the Corona Virus would still affect for months.”
Data Snapshot: The majority of our experts are still able to conduct business as usual, albeit in a potentially very different environment. For a small portion, the loss of connection to clients, supply chains, and travel has been particularly difficult.
Sean Si and SEO Hacker made the choice to go fully remote.
“All of our team members are now working remotely,” said Si. “During these times, our team believes that the best way to manage the situation is to have clear and fluid communication. We ask our team members to always be online in our slack channel during work hours and emails should have quick responses.”
Says SI, “Health is our priority. Our business relies on our team members to be at 100% to better serve our clients. If a team member becomes sick and is unable to work, it will negatively impact our timelines. So to avoid any potential future impacts from the virus, we encourage our team members to prioritize their health. Our team will be working remotely until the government has confirmed that the country has 0 cases.”
Vinoth AJ of Apoyo Corp has struggled with the transition, “Badly, we need the collaboration of our team under one roof to provide quality services to our Clients and Partners. As we move to remote work, we are facing low productivity and a hard time managing all our team members. We are massively dependent on collaboration tools to stay connected as much as possible to regain our lost productivity.”
Communication has been the key to keeping clients supported, “Informing all existing clients that we are adapting the remote work. We are making them understand that there will be a productivity challenge. Encouraging and adapting our employees to work from home as much as possible to regain lost productivity.”
Tung Dao of Avada Commerce has seen the potential for the virus to affect the team and is taking the signs seriously.
“There are more and more people getting infected, so it’s become riskier every day to step outside,” said Dao. “So the majority of our people have decided to work from home and not travel outside of our city. So far no one has become infected.” While the company is not yet totally remote, “If the situation becomes worse in the future, I think our company will have to work remotely 100%. This is going to affect our productivity somewhat, but since we’re a software company, we don’t have to worry that our financial situation will be heavily affected.”
Seb Brantigan of Brantigan Enterprises LTD says the more subtle issue is “Lack of response from customers/clients. I recommend ‘checking in’ with your contacts, suppliers, etc. more than usual if you haven’t heard from them. Make more phone calls and arrange more touchpoints, as some clients would like the reassurance and would like to carry on as normal.”
To keep things running smoothly, Brantigan is “Making sure there are adequate arrangements to work remotely. When booking in-person events, for example, making sure these are booked on a flexible basis to save money if they need to be canceled or postponed.”
Business Increases Because of COVID-19
While much of the business world is laboring under a downturn in sales and opportunities, some firms find themselves in the position of increased business due to the pandemic.
While this may seem an enviable position at first blush, the reality of a sudden and non-linear uptick in business presents its own set of challenges.
One expert familiar with this downside is Yoann Bierling of Where Can I FLY?, whose service became critically important to users navigating a rapidly shifting air travel landscape as the virus shut down airports and cities.
“Due to a sudden and huge surge of service access at the beginning of the spread, the server got deactivated, leading to several days of loss,” said Bierling. “This required fast thinking and dedication, “making sure that the whole business is able to sustain such disruptions due to surge of service access, by using a CDN and improving cache performance.”
Data Snapshot: For many of our experts, the effect of Covid-19 has been swift, with varying degrees of effect. For some services providers, the pandemic has had a positive financial impact, though this has required deft handling in terms of workflow, response time, and staffing.
Another expert facing this increased demand is Kris Gunnars of Stock Analysis.
“Our business has not been affected negatively yet,” said Gunnars. “We are an online business that provides information on stocks, so the volatility in the stock market has actually led to increased traffic. All of our work can be done from home and the website is hosted in the cloud, so remote work has not been an issue at all. Until this blows over, there will be no travel or no in-person communication between employees at all.”
To ensure continued service as teams go remote, “I am making sure that we have the infrastructure in place to be able to run the business 100% remotely. An internet connection and a laptop is all that will be needed to be a fully contributing employee.”
Ryan Jones of Refuel Creative says, “There has been a significant increase in requests for remote work training and help with setup. In the circumstances, this demands extremely prompt reactions and short turnarounds putting our staff under immense pressure.” While serving increased demand, the company has remained mindful of its own financial position, “cutting inessential costs, including canceling under-utilized software, and trying to reduce overheads.”
John Kelleher of ESM Inbound has seen some volatility in new and existing accounts.
“We’re seeing new business come in and existing accounts churn,” said Kelleher. “So far, (in net terms) we’ve actually gained business from the crisis. It helps that we were 100% remote long before Coronavirus came along – people are attracted to that continuity.”
While the uptick is welcome and the work hasn’t changed, Kelleher mentions that for the time being, “we are freezing recruitment. We had planned to make two new appointments this month but we are avoiding that process in order to extend our existing cash runway.”
Chuck Robbins of aro marketing finds the company in the position of supporting clients who have had business increases as a result of Covid.
“One of our clients provides a tool for remote working. They have had explosive growth but are working remotely themselves and are struggling with the use of home phones and other small details.” Says Robbins, “We already were working virtually, so not much change for us. Helping our clients is the largest challenge right now.”
Amanda Sleger of Leighton Interactive is also supporting clients through the shifts.
“A lot of our clients are very impacted by this,” said Sleger. “We work with education, tourism, elder care, the financial sector, and lots of manufacturing segments. The eldercare facility that, of course, is putting the care of their residents as their top priority. They are looking for ways for families to virtually connect, to provide updates on their residence and how they’re handling the quarantine, and also to share what they are doing to stop the spread with the precautions their staffing team is taking. It’s great to have social sharing tools so that older ones aren’t completely isolated but are still able to communicate with families and see faces.”
Sleger says the most important thing is to “be there for our clients. Everyone is scared right now and doesn’t know what the future looks like for their business, but when we come in as a partner – somebody who’s looking to insulate their business too, it can make our relationships with our clients stronger.”
In times of flux, clients have come looking for answers to ‘what now’ questions, says Kurt Uhlir of Showcase IDX.
“We’ve seen an increase in real estate agents and marketers reaching out for education material and help knowing how to improve their websites,” said Uhlir. “They know that slowdowns, and even a recession, are when you should invest any downtime in content marketing for the coming months/years, and they are looking for guidance on how best to invest that time in their real estate businesses. It’s great to see but is also keeping us quite busy.”
Increasing flex options for the team has helped them navigate. “Our team already had a flexible work location policy, but we are actively planning on extended work-from-home for the coming quarters just in case. We are coordinating huddles multiple times per day, reintroducing everyone to Trello and Clubhouse to track projects, and are using video calls as frequently as possible.”
Certain industries that directly serve the frontlines of the virus battle are looking for increased support from consultants, says Mary Ann Hegvold of 30 Degrees North. “Our business, as a marketing and web development company that focuses on the medical industry, has been quite busy helping clients communicate their new rules for entering their buildings and other new procedures.”
Being a “remote native” company has helped Matt Holmes of Handshaking.com navigate the changes. “We are already a remote team, coaching others how to best settle into a fully remote team when coming from a physical office.” To keep pace, “we were planning to hire double our current staff, but now we are reconsidering and hiring slower due to our suspicion on upcoming economical impact in the U.S.”
Jeremy Cross of Team Building Los Angeles says that Covid’s impact on search has affected business.
“The Coronavirus is a massive media topic, and there is a lot of content and news coming out about it each day,” said Cross. “As a result, our own scheduled content has become less immediately relevant to our target market, and so we are seeing less search volume and traffic to our site. One way we are managing this shift is to revisit our content strategy and see how we can include current events in the work we are doing.”
Expanding the offering has helped with critical traffic improvements. “Part of revisiting our content plan is making it a lot broader. In the past, we’ve written exclusively about the niche topic of local corporate team building activities in Los Angeles. Now, we are preparing long-form articles on other relevant areas of company culture, management, training, how to work remotely and similar. The goal is to create a body of meaningful work that is helpful to our audience and may lead to more business opportunities in the future.”
Carla Dewing of Copyhog.com has also seen “a noticeable uptick in local businesses reaching out to me for my services. Content strategy, conversion optimization and content creation are in high demand since so many companies are being forced to switch to online models to make money, since the COVID-19 outbreak. Businesses that perhaps weren’t taking digital sales so seriously are now in a hurry to make sure funnels are working well, and that enough consumers are being converted on their websites and through other touchpoints like social media.”
“So far,” says Dewing, “my own business has not experienced any negative impact from the novel coronavirus. In terms of widespread food and product shortages from panic buying, I scheduled periodic deliveries online to make sure I don’t run out of important things while at home working, without panic buying and leaving others without, or having to break the social distancing that keeps those at risk safe. Paying early also allowed me to negate any inflation caused by product demand.”
Sadia Ahmed of Frontier Blades shares, “Currently, our E-Commerce business has not encountered any negative repercussions pertaining to the Coronavirus. Rather, our business has experienced a slight, positive impact due to the Coronavirus, as more individuals are seeking self-defense equipment as concerns for personal safety are becoming more salient. We are managing this by keeping close observation on our inventory, to ensure we maintain a minimum quantity of each of our products.”
Sourcing has become a challenge for the business since it relies on international supply chains affected by the crisis. “As a small E-commerce store selling self-defense items, we are taking necessary precautions in light of the recent coronavirus pandemic. As a small online business, we receive our products and supplies from domestic manufacturers, who receive their supplies from Chinese factories. During normal conditions, we source products from our local manufacturers once an order is placed on our online store for a given item. However, our domestic manufacturers have provided warnings regarding subsequent delayed shipments from Chinese manufacturers due to global supply chain disruptions.”
“As a result, we are focusing on amplifying our storage capacity and accumulating merchandise. We have analyzed our annual sales report to determine our best selling products, and have stored increasing quantities of these prominent products within our storage units. Regarding our less prominent products, we have stockpiled a smaller quantity. Currently, we are maintaining our strategy of sourcing products from our local manufacturers for recent orders, while avoiding our stockpiled merchandise for more dire situations. As further restrictions on global trade are implemented, we will access our stored merchandise to fulfill orders. Additionally, as our quantities decrease, we plan to increase the prices of our items to circumvent the rapid depletion of our merchandise.”
Like many service providers in the communication space, Andrea Loubier of Mailbird has seen increased business as a result of the pandemic.
“Many of our clients have been affected by the virus, which actually makes them rely on our services even more,” said Loubier. “As an email client, staying in touch and having reliable methods of communication are more important than ever before. With so many employees from our clients working remotely, ensuring that everyone can stay on the same page is imperative.” For Loubier, adapting to serve customers better has taken priority. “We are continuing to come up with new helpful features and integrations to make our email client more user-friendly and helpful to a company’s productivity and time-management objectives.”
Small business needs outside help when things change, and Ryan Crow of ExitAdviser has been helping meet their needs. “We have impacted POSITIVELY by meeting a growing number of small business owners interested in selling their businesses. We are allocating more capacity and bandwidth to satisfy the GROWING DEMAND for our online services.”
Andy Crestodina of Orbit Media has made it a priority to offer assistance, seeing increased activity as a result.
“We are reaching out to everyone and offering to help,” said Crestodina. “These efforts are proactive and purely helpful. If someone needs us in any possible way, we want them to know that we are here.”
One industry to see increased business in this climate is fitness, according to Greg Brookes of Kettlebells Workouts. While fitness isn’t the first critical service to come to mind, with everyone staying at home, in-home fitness companies have been getting a boost.
“We provide short kettlebells workouts for people to do at home, in their own space and in their own time,” said Brookes. “Now, more than ever, keeping up an at-home fitness regimen is extremely important. With gym closures all over the globe, we feel really great that we can provide a much-needed service to help our customers stay fit, healthy and happy.” To continue to support new customers, “we are continuing to implement networking, outreach, and SEO so that we remain visible and ready to help as many people reach their fitness goals as possible.”
Sport has taken a significant blow in the wake of social distancing and shutdowns. However, BJ Enoch of Opendorse has turned attention to serving these industry clients in a time of greatest need.
“Our business is primarily rooted in sports,” said Enoch. “Collegiate, professional, minor league, prep, and even international. With the ending, pausing, and delayed the start of sports at all levels we’ve seen current partners and prospective partners facing an unprecedented challenge of how to handle their social media channels; what to post, when to post, where to post, and even who should post it. The types of conversations we’re having on a daily basis have changed dramatically.”
Says Enoch, “With current partners, we’re helping them through this time by providing guidance on how to refresh archive content to tell stories from the past and help their fans keep connected through social and digital media. With prospective partners, we’re having to dispel the myth that sports are dead in every facet. Sports are canceled, people are not. There’s a huge void in people’s lives with sports on hiatus and with a majority of the world confined to their houses, there is a wide range of new needs to meet.”
Differentiation is important, especially now, says Enoch. “We’re taking every step we can to not just be another ‘marketing vendor’ who gets cut when times get tough. Our focus for the near future is to provide unique value in every single aspect of our partner’s lives and be a daily use utility rather than just a content publishing platform. One great way we’ve seen this manifested is a community slack group for partners where they’ve got access to each other and direct access to our team at any time.”
While Covid-19 has affected every individual and business in a multitude of ways, we hope sharing these stories and approaches to the shifting landscape has provided a sense of solidarity and potentially some assistance in the face of the pandemic.
We will continue to share knowledge from our expert pool as our way of supporting the many businesses in the world navigating the new realities we face.
Be well, stay home (if possible), and take care.