How Anxiety Can Bring Out The Best in Your Business

“Anxiety is essential for creativity.” –Soren Kierkegaard

Have you ever been stressed in your sleep?

Perhaps you tossed through a restless night of dreams, finding that, when you were most physically exhausted, you ended up “working hard” all night. Common anxiety dreams include arriving late to the airport (without a passport or luggage), laboring at work with frustrating results, arriving for a huge test and realizing you never did any prior homework or studying, or falling, being chased, or losing something.

Anxiety is an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worry, and physical changes like increased blood pressure. Whether you sense foreboding about the future or you’re responding to the trauma of the past, everyone deals with stress or anxiety sometimes.

And while most of us dread the pangs of anxiety, it can actually be a productive and inspiring muse.

Keys to Harnessing Your Mental Energy

Neuroscientist and author Joseph LeDoux called anxiety, “the price we pay for an ability to imagine the future.”

“That’s what anxiety is,” he told the New York State Writers Institute in 2016, “an imagination of a future that hasn’t happened yet, but that you are concerned with, worried about, dreading, and so on.”

If you find your worries sometimes kick into overdrive, remember that every artist is blessed with an active imagination, and your mental energy is something that can be harnessed for everything from your next poem to your solution for today’s biggest obstacles.

Want to conquer stress before it conquers you?

In his book, “Mastering Creative Anxiety,” creativity coach and psychologist Dr. Eric Maisel lays out 22 different anxiety management tools (enough that everyone can find at least one or two that may work well!).

Here are just three he recommends:

1. The simplest is to remember to breathe; a few deep cleansing breaths can do wonders for reducing anxiety.

2. The most important anxiety management tool is probably cognitive work, where you change the things you say to yourself, turning anxious thoughts into calmer, more productive thoughts.

Want ideas? Here is a free PDF from The Creative Independent on how artists deal with creative anxiety.

3. Creating a lifestyle that supports calmness is also very important: if the way you live your life produces a lot of anxiety, that’s a tremendous extra burden on your nervous system.

A Time for Creativity and Strategic Marketing

Many entrepreneurs believe that mastering professional anxiety involves focus.

While some things are beyond your control, worrying about these can make you crazy. Instead, focus on what is within your influence: like creativity, productivity, and strategic marketing. As you hit reset in your summer or fall season, now is the time to push ahead on new projects, get strategic about networking, or to establish self-care habits that maximize energy while inspiring great ideas.

While you can’t take the anxiety of life, you can see it for the positive aspects it brings. For example, the two characters that make up the Chinese word for crisis, when taken separately, mean “danger” and “opportunity.” We’ve all felt the alarm of the COVID-19 season, but now it’s time to embrace the opportunities and innovation this reset may bring.

Want to see some examples of how other businesses are approaching marketing at this time? Give us a call to chat about strategic print options!

Direct Mail Postcards: A Proven Winner

Results. Whether it’s weight loss, test scores, or finances, tangible success is the payoff everyone wants.

With a limited marketing budget, it’s important for your business to make every penny count. And, according to a 2018 DMA Response Rate Report, direct mail consistently outperforms all digital marketing channels. 

Direct mail allows readers to comprehend, process, and remember the material more quickly and easily, with postcards and large envelopes eliciting the best overall response. Think about how quickly you process your own mail – ‘bill, letter, junk, ad . . .’ It takes a split second to accept or discard each piece. Postcards put the message front and center as soon as the printed piece hits their hand.

When it comes to results, 52.5 percent of potential recipients claim they will read a postcard, whereas a letter-sized envelope will be opened only a third of the time. Postcards get a fairly high response rate – 4.25% – followed by dimensional mailers with 4% and letter-sized envelopes at 3.5%. And larger postcards (6-inches by 11-inches) are an ideal choice to ensure your piece stands out in the mail pile.

Success Starts Here

Ready to acquire new customers and increase your profits? Here are some tips for head-turning postcards:

Get to the Point

Postcards should have one obvious call to action. Understanding the audience and key message will drive design, with branding that will reinforce this theme.

Stress Benefits

Highlight the benefits of what you are selling. If you are selling a booklet-folding machine, don’t just say, “stainless steel hopper, 10 inches wide.” Add, “assembles 600 booklets per hour!”

Use Engaging Designs

Even classy postcards can have some sizzle, whether it’s font, bright colors, foil, or creative cardstock and graphic combinations.

Follow Headlines with Delivery

The promise of the headline should be fulfilled in the body copy—immediately. Your first few sentences should explain, elaborate on, and support the promise made in the headline.

Don’t Be Boring

People take in loads of information each week, and postcards have a split second to catch their attention. A sharp layout is great, but be sure to integrate this with a lively message to keep them reading past the headline.

Offer a Next Step

Don’t assume the reader knows what to do with your card. Include instructions and crystal-clear action steps, like, “For a free 2020 landscaping guide, visit http://www.lawnparadise.com, or call Betsy at __________ for a blueprint on a total yard makeover.”

Enhance Readability

More than 30 percent of the population classifies themselves as “scanners,” so aim for improved readability with bullets, generous white space, screened boxes, yellow highlighting, crossed-out text (like $19.95, $9.95), and simulated handwriting in the margin.

Front and Center with Eye-Popping Postcards

Want to make the right offer at the right time?

Postcards are ideal when:

  • You want to generate leads.
  • You’re offering a free or premium item.
  • The primary response is a URL landing page or a phone call.
  • The concept is easy to explain or familiar to the reader.

Finally, the sure advantage in postcards is knowing where to send them.

Savvy marketers know who their audience is, and they realize it’s not just one group. The most successful postcard marketing sends unique messages (and even segmented landing pages) to the groups they most want to reach.

If you can reach out to 500 targeted people (versus 5,000 bulk addresses), your success rates will skyrocket.

Adapting to the Changing Needs of Your Audience

Everyone knows Fender.

Fender makes amazing guitars, amplifiers, and more. They also have a popular digital learning program called Fender Play. In March of 2020, Fender started giving away free 3-month subscriptions to this tutorial service.

The response was overwhelming.

Statistics show that most new learners quit playing guitar after six months. Fender realized if it could reduce that abandonment rate by 10%, it could double its market. As people began to watch videos and play along, they grew in confidence and in the joy of playing. By May of 2020, one MILLION people were strumming along with Fender from home.

How did Fender decide to release a 3-month tutorial? Here’s what general manager Ethan Kaplan said:

“Right after folks went into lockdown, we started talking about how we could help people get through . . . it was clear [part of the answer was] the power of music. A free three-month offer felt like a good idea. So, we started by offering it to 100,000 people. And we blew through that number in around 36 hours. Then we opened it up to 500,000, and we closed it at a million.

In addition to making elite equipment, Fender became a streaming tutorial service overnight. Kaplan says Fender Play shoots for an engaging and rewarding user experience:

“. . . we’re kind of like a streaming video service with a lot of extra furniture around it. We have 3,000 pieces of video content, but those lessons also include scrolling tabs, chord settings, backing tracks. So we’re a video platform with all these extra dimensions.

Tools to Keep You on Track

Whether your customers are experiencing a pandemic or a culture shift, keeping in touch with their needs is vital. By understanding key clients, you can tailor content to their needs, provide tailor-made services, and ensure your business addresses their current challenges.

There are several ways to take the pulse of your target customers. Here are just a few:

Review current data and analytics

When studying key clients, begin by reviewing data you’ve recently collected. This includes relevant purchaser info, website or focus group feedback, or stats on the latest industry trends.

Connect with your rock star customers

If you have clients who keep coming back, you must be doing something right! Find out what’s working for your VIPs in terms of products, services, customer support, or marketing.

Eyeball competitors

Want to save time and keep creativity flowing? Keep a watchful eye on your competitors! Here you’ll gain easy insight into design features, customer personas, pricing strategies, and more.

Conduct surveys or polls

Directly engaging your prospects or customers is a helpful way to get specifics about your product marketing, customer support, and more. Because surveys can be both targeted AND anonymous, they offer a unique way to get raw answers and data that really matters.

Monitoring audience feedback through your blogs, live chats, or community web forums is also an easy way to resolve pain points or identify the features people love.

Experiment

Don’t be afraid to experiment with content or service packages to understand your audience better. As Fender found, testing new ideas is a great way to determine whether your business is evolving with changing client needs. You can always start small and make course corrections as you go!

Keeping Customer Needs at the Forefront

In terms of inspiration, Kaplan says the pandemic has highlighted the importance of connecting with customers in ways that makes their lives easier:

“I think what we’re all discovering is that the strength of a service or a product is how well it enables people to make their day-to-day lives easier . . . you’ve seen that with Zoom, you’ve seen that with Slack, [and] certainly with Apple, Spotify, Netflix, Disney+, etc. These companies are not being opportunistic because of the circumstance, but being empathetic . . . because of what the circumstances have now afforded.”

5 Thoughtful Strategies for Advertising During the Pandemic

If you’re like many people, you’ve probably been more conservative in your spending lately.

Recent research shows that, during the pandemic, many people were rationing food to save on expenses and grocery runs, and 23% of people were eating more plant-based meals. Discretionary spending has decreased, and consumers are shifting to digital solutions and reduced-contact channels to receive services.

On a larger scale, consumers worldwide say they expect the pandemic to affect their routines or spending for at least two to four months.

A Shift in Content and Scope

In recent months, many companies have shifted the scope and content of their marketing efforts as well.

Instead of pushing products and promotions, proactive businesses have focused on building relationships and adding humanness to their brand, including inspirational direct mail newsletters, heartfelt emails, and down-to-earth videos.

In one example, eBay championed small businesses that power the nation with its “Stronger as One” ad. Other companies highlighted safety changes and customer convenience options, like this “Call In / Pull In / Pick Up” curbside delivery ad:

“During these challenging times, we are here for you. We are making changes moment by moment to ensure the safety of our customers and employees. And what matters most is doing this together, for the community that we all call home.”

A Vision for Marketing Beyond COVID-19

Beyond connecting and empathizing, what is next for marketing beyond coronavirus?

For starters, you’ll need a commitment to move forward. Research shows that 92% of consumers believe brands need to keep advertising. Ads offer people a glimpse at a prosperous future or something hopeful to look forward, and your marketing gives people a welcome taste of distraction, entertainment, and normalcy.

Also, if the firms competing against you have lowered their ad output, now is a great time for you to invest more. As others scale back, your ads are more visible, allowing you to gather leads with a lower cost-per-acquisition.

And even if the economy seems shaky, pulling back now may actually lengthen the time it takes you to recover. If you need to tighten expenses, don’t turn off your marketing. Instead, look at ways you can rethink intake, client services, or business expenses in general.

Need some concrete marketing ideas? Here are five types of ads to consider:

1. A Product Focus

Showcase how your product is safe, accessible, or helps people strengthen their health or physical well-being.

2. A People Focus

Show prospects you care about them and that your business is standing with them during this time. This Fitbit ad offers its premium package for 90 days to help people work out at home, manage stress, and eat and sleep better during COVID-19: “Thank you for doing what you can. We’re all in this together.”

3. A Values Focus

Here you might feature positive company values or champion the solidarity and togetherness of your community.

4. A Nostalgia Focus

When things feel uncertain, old songs or vintage photos can bypass the brain and connect straight to the heart.

5. A Humor Focus

While being sensitive to people’s pain, you can still connect with your audience through humor during challenging seasons. Encourage people to laugh at their weaknesses or make the most of this strange season, like this Ben & Jerry’s “Netflix and Chill’d” campaign.

Though it may seem counterintuitive to up your print output today, now is the time to invest in a strong comeback after COVID-19.

With today’s carefully crafted message, you can ahead of shifting customer needs and shape people’s long-term expectations. As your partner in print, we are open, and we are ready to help! Contact us today to visit more.

Coordinate Every Brand Touchpoint to Optimize Customer Journeys

What turns you away from a website, advertisement, or a company?

Perhaps it’s the message itself or the way a brand is presented. Sometimes the information is just too scattered, time-consuming, or confusing! Today’s consumers face a barrage of competing messages, so each intersection between a customer and your business is critical.

These points of contact, or touchpoints, represent points of interaction with a customer or a prospect at any stage of their customer journey. Touchpoints provide you critical opportunities to engage leads, build brand awareness, address concerns, market products or services, or to tell your story.

Building an End-to-End Customer Experience

Grouping touchpoints chronologically can be helpful as it allows you to see things from an outside perspective.

Here are just a handful of touchpoints:

  • Social Media Campaigns
  • Print Advertisements
  • Company Events
  • Product Catalogs
  • Conversations with Company Representatives
  • Landing Pages
  • Professional Website
  • Point of Sale Displays
  • Cross-Sales Promotions
  • Thank You Letters or Post-Purchase Surveys
  • Customer Support Services
  • Newsletter Subscriptions
  • Loyalty Programs

Are you looking for creative options for your customer touchpoints? This is where things can get really fun! Here are a few ideas to get you thinking:

  • One bicycle shop printed metal business cards that doubled as a pedal wrench.
  • One cosmetics company found that engaging online shoppers with a chat box boosted sales by 20 percent.
  • One home builder sent direct-mail testimonials from satisfied clients to leads who had inquired through digital channels.
  • For one promotion, Nike packaged its Nike Air Max shoes in clear plastic wrapping that made it appear as if the shoes were floating inside a bubble.
  • To highlight the space-saving benefits of home organization, one Ikea store painted its main staircase as a chest of drawers, with objects inside each “step” perfectly organized.

Evaluating and Improving Your Touchpoints

Many businesses overlook the power of coordinated touchpoints.

But put yourself in a client’s shoes. When you are engaging with a business, you enter each interaction with the assumption you can ask questions, receive support, or weigh costs and benefits for a potential purchase. As you take progressive steps, you are met with intentional, friendly, and helpful responses. Does this increase your chance of making a commitment? Absolutely!

Simply having a touchpoint in place is no longer an option. Rather, each touchpoint must perfectly represent your brand, offering a cohesive, captivating message. How can you be sure each point optimizes, satisfies, or invites? Here are three steps to consider:

1. LIST

List all your current touchpoints, including websites, e-mails, customer service, direct mail, etc.

2. EVALUATE

Use objective observers to give an unbiased review of each touchpoint.

This process of discovery enables you to find “weak links” and make necessary corrections.

3. TAKE ACTION

Overcome deficits by viewing weak touchpoints as opportunities for growth.

After listing and evaluating touchpoints, now take a customer-centered understanding of what’s working and what’s not. Excellent touchpoints should be relevant to customer needs, endearing in a way that builds emotional connection or increases interest, and appropriate to the greater context of the interaction.

Evaluating and enhancing your touchpoints will sharpen communication and help move people seamlessly toward a point of purchase. Build an end-to-end customer experience that unifies your brand message and optimizes every customer experience!

Increase Your Odds for Success by Finding a Business Mentor

Bill Gates first met his mentor at a dinner organized by his mom.

When his mother suggested the connection, Gates thought he would have nothing in common with him, because this contact was just a “guy who picks stocks.” It turned out that they had more in common than he realized, and over the years, Gates came to view him as a key mentor and advisor.

That man? Billionaire investor Warren Buffett.

Today, Gates has created software that runs in most of the computers on the planet. He is a billionaire philanthropist who has given away more than $28 billion while working to eradicate polio. And Gates says that one of the most important things Buffet taught him is that success is not found through net worth but by “having people you care about loving you back.”

4 Keys for Developing a Powerful Professional Mentorship

Do you have a professional mentor?

If you don’t, this is a great time to get matched with one. The Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) is a non-profit organization with members who provide free consultation services and advice to entrepreneurs. SCORE oversees the nation’s largest network of volunteer, expert business mentors. This organization helps thousands of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses, to give back to communities, and to allow people to pass on their knowledge to the next generation of leaders.

Whether you connect with an organization like SCORE or pursue a mentorship opportunity of your own, here are four things you might look for in a mentor.

1. Compatibility

Your mentor is someone who you will be working closely with, so it’s important that you have a sense of compatibility with this person, so the relationship doesn’t feel awkward or forced.

If you sense cues that could indicate long term tension, it’s ok to voice your concerns or end the relationship. Assigning the initial stage of the relationship as a short-term trial period might make a potential termination seem more natural.

2. Contrast

A mentor helps you stretch yourself, so it’s good if your mentor seems a bit outside of your comfort zone.

Don’t pick a carbon copy of yourself or look for a best buddy in a mentor. Diversity helps you get a better perspective on things, and it may be good if your mentor is from a different industry, age group, or geographical area.

3. Expertise

Mentorship isn’t about following someone with the most experience or the biggest title; it’s about finding someone with the knowledge to help you on your journey.

Look for a mentor who has unique expertise or one who has worked through similar challenges as you face rather than focusing on someone with a long career or a resume that matches yours.

4. Trust

Because you will share intimate business details with your mentor, trust is of utmost importance.

And this trust should go both ways. When trust is mutual, both parties can confide in each other in specific, vulnerable ways. Build trust by learning each other’s communication styles, setting expectations up front, and asking deeper questions as you grow. Once a solid level of trust is established, you’ll be able to glean the best insights from this relationship.

Bouncing Back After COVID-19

This unique time of economic recovery is probably unlike any crisis your business has faced.

But entrepreneurs are nothing if not resilient, and you can get through this. The key is to take quick action and to lean on the wisdom of others. Why not pursue a mentoring relationship today?

How to Produce Thoughtful Designs that Generate Big Results

Design is a process that turns an idea or a requirement into a finished product.

While many people believe designs just “happen,” that isn’t the case. Some designs may come together quickly, but generally, there are many stages along the way. Whether you need full-service graphic design or collaboration together along the way, it can be helpful to approach the design process in stages.

Want to produce more inspiring designs? Approach the process in a strategic, focused way. Here are four key stages:

1. Define & Research

At this stage, the design problem and the target audience should be clearly defined.

Preparation reviews information such as the demographics of the target market, the key concepts or language that connect with these people, and the focal message you want to share. The more precise you are in this pre-planning, the more targeted your design solutions will be. Here’s one inspiring example:

Three is a British mobile communications company that used its award-winning “Holiday Spam” campaign to feature travelers sending a flood of cliched holiday photos to people back home. The company appealed to new customers by offering free data services during holiday travel abroad.

Tracking mobile data of customers traveling abroad, Three’s research found that, during holidays, people used 71 times more data than they would have used if they had to pay extra (and this was mostly generated from holiday snaps on social media!). By featuring travelers “spamming” their friends with holiday snaps, Three successfully tapped into audience desires while driving awareness for free data services. This brought a 90% increase in their social conversation volume, higher brand metrics, and increased customer savings as people signed on for new service.

2. Ideate and Prototype

Ideation involves the generation of ideas through creative thinking and prototypes.

Idea generation may come through brainstorming, sketching ideas, adapting previous ads or designs, or by using creative design exercises. While many people rush through the brainstorming stage, ideation strategies are paramount because they allow designers to flow in a life-giving, streamlined environment, releasing ideas that are imaginative, strategy-driven, and smart.

From here, prototyping offers a workup of designs for interested clients. Prototypes give clients the ability to visualize and vet ideas before they are formally produced. The ideation and prototype stages are a critical juncture for printers and clients to collaborate, so the best possible outcome is achieved.

3. Select

During the selection phase, proposed solutions are measured against the original design objective.

Some solutions initially seem practical, but when compared to the original benchmark, you see that they aren’t a good fit. Once a concept gets closer to completion, cost, time, and media formats will sharpen focus and help you choose the most effective design.

4. Implement

At this stage, partners collaborate to bring ideas to life and to generate final delivery.

In print production, finishing techniques are imperative for beautifying your design. This stage includes the application of print finishing processes like folding, die-cutting, binding, varnishing, embossing, or foil accents. Finish techniques are a beautiful way to support and enhance your message and are best considered during the ideation stage so they can be efficiently melded into final print runs.

The Best Possible Product

Different jobs require the use of different techniques, but the strategic design process is generally the same.

This focused approach ensures your design will serve both economic and creative goals. The ultimate aim is to present information in the best possible way for your readers while equipping designers to unleash tremendous creativity in the process.

The Experts Weigh In: Two Strategies for Recession-Proofing Your Business

As COVID-19 shakes businesses around the country, today is a great time to reflect on the victories of those who’ve survived previous financial struggles.

In particular, the 2008 recession offers valuable lessons from entrepreneurs who shifted to either a “prevention” or a “promotion” focus. Here are two real-life success stories, with takeaways for your team.

Prevention Focus: The Montgomery Group

Ernest Montgomery is an NYU grad who launched a creative agency that produces advertising campaigns and manages its talent (photographers, stylists, makeup artists) in-house.

In 2008, Montgomery enjoyed modest success, booking clients like American Airlines and Pepsi. He rented a beautiful office on 7th Avenue in Manhattan, expanded his staff to 15 artists, and grew revenue to around $800k/year. But when the recession hit, he was forced to make some difficult decisions.

Choosing a primarily defensive strategy, Montgomery cut every expense he could think of. He abandoned offices and made his entire staff remote. He axed his web design budget and learned to build sites himself. And most dramatically, he permanently relocated to the Dominican Republic.

Why?

“A campaign that costs $100k to produce in Miami can be made for $65k in the Dominican Republic,” said Montgomery. “A location that costs $10k in Miami costs $500 here — and there is so much less red tape — street permits, blocking off traffic, all that.”

To this day, when Montgomery meets with clients he hops a three-hour flight into New York City, spends the whole day in the U.S., and takes the last flight home. To survive financial hardship, he advises companies to ask their clients, employees, and associate three questions:

  • “What can we do to make things feel better?”
  • “How can we survive this as a group?”
  • “What are we going to do differently once this is over?”

With a leaner overhead, companies are more nimble, with greater flexibility to follow the market and its new demands. And that defensive maneuver can give you an offensive advantage.

Promotion Focus: The Baker Hasseldenz Studio

Scott Baker and Mary Ann Hesseldenz are known for making custom luxury furniture for wealthy clients.

Before the 2008 recession, their Arizona studio catered to clients who were building new homes and wanted matching $17,000 couches or $5000 cocktail tables. But when the housing market tanked, they had to recalibrate.

The couple says they survived the 2008 crash by paying attention to trends and making quick adjustments. While wealthy people weren’t building new homes, they noticed there was still a thriving remodeling market. Their studio quickly shifted focus from high-end furniture to millwork and cabinets.

During the recession, the couple kept overhead low by hiring independent contractors and keeping workshop space minimal. Due to their quick thinking, the couple later noted that their income during the recession actually went up! A decade later, they’re up to $1 million in gross revenue: $500,000 in millwork, $300,000 in furniture sales, and $180,000 in interior design fees.

A promotion focus will look different for everyone, but it requires offensive moves. This may include diversifying your client pool, forging strategic partnerships with other companies, pivoting to a different product focus, doubling inventory where you find strategic buyer’s markets, or rolling out a creative new ad campaign.

A Time to Showcase Your Brand

Whether you take a prevention or a promotion focus, it’s important not to hide!

Today is the best day to showcase your brand and maintain relevancy. Take advantage of this season to build new systems and amplify name recognition. The objective during a crisis is to go beyond survival and to come out stronger.

3 Strategies for Pursuing New Business Opportunities

In the weeks surrounding the onset of COVID-19, businesses worldwide have pivoted quickly.

Many have juggled shifting expectations by establishing remote work arrangements, securing supply chains, reducing employee workload, cutting costs, or applying for government support.

Now it’s time to move forward with a proactive business plan and to consider new opportunities. What will this look like for your business? Here are three strategies.

Strategy 1: Same Products, Different Channel

If the majority of your business takes place on-site, now a promotion focus through a different channel may be helpful.

In what ways can you offer the same (or similar) products and services through an online channel? Can you digitize any of your physical products? Can you offer webinars, online consultation, or build a technology-mediated delivery solution? From curbside pick-up to livestream shopping events, ramped up digital options are a low-hanging fruit every business should explore.

One florist facing delivery bans sold “virtual” bouquets for $70-$400 dollars. The recipient got a photo of their bouquet over email with the promise of a live delivery once businesses re-opened. When Chinese cosmetics company Lin Qingxuan was forced to close 40% of its stores, the company redeployed its beauty advisers as online influencers, and digital tools like WeChat engaged customers virtually. One large-scale livestream shopping event featuring 100 beauty advisers, helping Lin Quingxuan’s February sales climb 120% over 2019 sales.

Strategy 2: Same Infrastructure, Different Products

During a crisis, leaders must recognize opportunities and make the most of them. 

The COVID-19 season is a crucial time to consider new opportunities. While the need for some products and services has fallen, demand for others is high and even growing. Can your business deploy existing infrastructure to produce different products or offer new services?

In the spring of 2020, companies such as LVMH (perfumes) and Skyroro (rockets) switched to producing hand sanitizer within a few days. Manufacturers like GM, Ford, and My Pillow modified idle production lines to manufacture medical devices and face masks.

If people today see increased value in e-learning, improved individual health, or meaningful networking, how can your business identify and fill these needs? Disruptors often come from the bottom of the market to upend traditional retailers, or they create new markets and appeal to customers who have previously gone without a product.

Strategy 3: Same Products, Different Infrastructure

Perhaps your challenge is an increased demand for a particular product or service.

In this season, some companies may need to quickly augment physical systems, communication networks, or staffing to increase production or delivery capacity. And building new infrastructure often requires collaboration with external partners.

Employee sharing is one example of companies shifting infrastructure to meet needs. In Germany, McDonald’s staff have been permitted to work at Aldi stores while on-site dining is shuttered, and groceries are swamped. On the physical side, an adapted retail model may mean offer smaller stores (or “nodes” within large spaces) rather than crowd-based facilities.

Monitoring needs and forecasting future behavior are critical to adapting your infrastructure and remaining nimble.

Creativity Fuels Innovation

During a crisis, many things are out of your control.

But that’s ok because you can still shape your response! Focus solely on what you can control. Look for creative ways to adapt, and you will come out stronger in the years to come.  

 

Five Strategies to Use Your “Quaran-TIME” Effectively

Mike Turner founded the Front Street Brokers real estate firm in 2005, with a desire to offer distinctive client experiences, to equip agents for the maximum efficiency and profitability, and to devote significant firm resources to a local, philanthropic focus.

After three years, Turner’s firm experienced a significant slowdown during the 2008 financial crisis. This was a time of immense strain, especially when scheduled closings dried up before his eyes:

“In that time period, we had 10 real estate transactions scheduled to close, and nine of them fell through for unforeseeable reasons,” Turner said. “All of a sudden, $100,000 worth of business income that we were dependent upon [was] gone.” 

Turner faced difficult choices in this season, and many of us are facing similar decisions in today’s COVID-19 crisis. Today, Turner says that while change is inevitable, he knows we still have a choice. Will we allow unforeseen challenges to drag us downstream, or will we improvise to find a way across the river?

Five Strategies to Use Your “Quaran-TIME” Effectively

Anyone can become a victim when change comes fast and forcefully.

Sudden change is scary, and though we may not be able to swim upstream, we can still strategize and seek active growth. What are some ways your business can grow during this difficult period?

Use Social Media to Connect with Customers

Try a more animated touch through social media. If subscribers are opening your emails, they are expressing genuine interest. Take these customer relationships to the next level by including embedded videos or links to caring content you’ve posted on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.

Answer Questions or Position Yourself as a Helper

As you reach out to subscribers, ask if they have any questions or respond to challenges you know they have. Take an interest in the content they post as well – comment on it, share it with your followers, or start real conversations. Connecting to clients now will form a personal bond that lasts longer than the COVID-19 crisis.

Stretch Your Team’s Skills

When activity wanes, morale often follows. Invigorate employees by offering on-going education tools, professional mentoring within your team, or problem-solving workshops that mobilize groups to tackle some of your most ambitious goals. If your company lacks online meeting capabilities, this is a great chance to preview options like Zoom or Google Hangouts.

Do Some Spring Cleaning

While the pace is reduced, give focused attention to your internal atmosphere. Whether you need to spruce up workspaces or sort through old files, redeem the time by getting organized. This may also be a great time to refresh decor, business cards, or your website, or to involve your team in designing new content for newsletters and videos.

Express Gratitude

In hard times, a warm word goes a long way, and this can shift your own perspective from negativity to hope. Take time to say thanks to customers with handwritten notes, personal videos, or future discount options. Whether you plan a summer reunion party or make appreciation phone calls, prioritizing gratitude will make you a better entrepreneur in the long run.

Change Course, but Don’t Quit!

They say that genius is just persistence in disguise.

In tough times it’s ok to be discouraged, but it’s not ok to quit. Be proactive in this season, and keep taking the steps you can to inch ahead. New paths are, by definition, uncleared. But persistence and positivity are your most valuable assets as you journey toward hope.