It’s official, the world has lost its mind. A time of unprecedented hysteria with blatant disregard for the long term impact that will be created. I see this as the catalyst for a massive long-term COVID-19 Coronoavirus financial crisis.
You may or may not feel as I do, but that in many respects is irrelevant, because regardless how you feel there are massive unpredictable implications to the series of current events regarding this health pandemic.
As a business consultant, a father, an empathetic coach, and a human being…well truth is I can’t in good conscience keep my opinion on how to navigate this stormy time business wise to myself I seriously care about each of you and the clients you serve.
You’re likely already seeing the impact of the hysteria.
An increase of “freeze membership” requests.
Plenty of no-shows for prospects, and great reluctance for anyone who was about to make a purchasing decision.
What about marketing? What do you do at a time like this?
Here’s my summary of how to ensure your business survives and thrives through this stormy COVID-19 madness.
You’re a consumer and you too likely have a heightened sense of fear or reluctance to.
Even well grounded individuals like we are, who generally don’t fear the flu, recognize a need for greater caution in regards to our own health.
The whole thing feels a bit ridiculous, but in the event I’m wrong, I’m not running out to be in mass public gatherings or attending appointments, functions or shopping that I don’t need to do. Why expose yourself to risk needlessly even if it’s small?
I’m sure you can relate…so our clients and potential clients assume this survival instinct to be further amplified.
Let’s address marketing.
This isn’t a time to stop marketing, but it is a time approach all spending conservatively.
The reality is, much like December and July for many, prospects will still have interest but because of current events etc will be unlikely to activate, you still want to be delivering YOUR message and ensuring it’s you that the remember or think of first as this craziness passes.
When it comes to Facebook, consider switching to a “Reach” objective over “Conversions”, “Traffic”, or “Leads.”
Reach allows you to manage how many times over what period any given person sees your ad, the goal here is awareness (with response of course) but stretching a small budget as far as you can and keeping your message current and frequent.
DON’T be planning large group challenge starts right now, though I’d think that’s likely obvious.
DO ramp up your content production.
Much like this article for each of you, take a stance on the issue, get into the ebb and flow of the current event and associate yourself to the topic (even if that grates against your principles.)
Spread the word that exercise, good nutritional habits, proper sleep and hydration combat the flu, enhance recovery and boost immune systems to avoid this altogether.
We have a job to do, be the experts we are and bring the world back into reason by reminding them that our bodies are perfect things that know how to take care of us if we take care of it. (All we hear about is people being positive for the virus, we hear nothing about the majority that feel better in 24-48hours, we must reinforce this notion.)
Use your content to promote your “public Facebook groups” and service those groups with workouts at home, things to do with the kids with the extra time off, help families stay healthy and active.
If you haven’t seen Facebook’s national ad campaign promoting groups, let me tell you now Facebook ads will continue to be more expensive and less responsive as Facebook has been telling us for a long time that the “Social Network” is evolving to the “Small Community Private Network Platform.” Keep that in mind.
Paying to show content that helps people boost their immune system I believe will be received well by the regular public, use this to promote your groups (Reach Objective) and create custom audiences to re-target later.
Keep your marketing budget at responsible levels, preserve your cash in the event that things continue to escalate and more interruptions ensue.
As for operations…
It’s different in every region, constantly reinforce the efforts you make to ensure cleanliness, include your people in the activities, make it prominent.
Continue to reassure everyone, really step up enforcement for sick people or staff.
I don’t suggest this out of fear of spreading COVID-19 I suggest it from the point of appearance, you must reassure others to ensure they keep feeling comfortable enough to attend.
You will be met with freeze requests, I don’t see really any way around being forced to comply. The aftermath of not I think will be worse than the short term dollars lost.
There’s no best, right, or wrong answer here that I can see, but what I do suggest is try to appeal to people’s sense of reason the best you can.
We are all selfish, if it’s you or me, I don’t care about you, at least not beyond the point of mild discomfort for me.
If you’re getting a lot of freeze requests try to appeal to that sense of “acceptance of mild discomfort.”
“Mrs. Jones, I understand where you’re coming from, please know we care a great deal, and as a small business you know the tremendous risk/strain this pandemic places upon us, we want to ensure we’re here when it passes to continue to serve amazing people like you, that’s why….”
“…We’re asking if rather than holding your membership if we can simply extend your agreement once all this passes, so we can take note of the date and the first date you return and extend your membership accordingly.”
“…We’re asking you pay a reduced account maintenance fee of $XXX in an effort to ensure we as a small business facing unusual circumstances can ensure we can take care of our staff and their families and be ready to serve you as this passes. We’ll credit this fee to your next renewal as well to ensure your support helps you in appreciation of helping us now.”
“…we’re having an “End of the World Sale” (joking of course) and for 5-7 people who want to help us during a time of financial strain we’re going to reward you, pay for 9 months now, we’ll not only pause your membership until this passes but we’re going to give you an additional 3 months free. We’re limiting this to just a handful as a means of offsetting an unusual circumstance that strains our operational finances.”
Keep relationships strong…
People who are “social distanced” not working, outside of the normal routine (if you ask me sending everyone home and breaking normal routine is a horrible way to control this because what do people do with no schedule and all kinds of time on their hands? ANSWER: Look for things to do and break habits and patterns making all of this less predictable still.
None the less, if you don’t maintain your relationships with your clients, a bunch of them simply won’t return.
Get everyone participating in your facebook group, encourage them to post their daily home workout, better yet provide them one and use extra time now to monitor this and engage people still continuing to serve them even if they are not in your four walls.
I’d highly suggest using Facebook live, simultaneously with something like Zoom to be able to broadcast workouts, cooking shows, meal prep techniques, live Q&A in a broad reaching but interactive manner, position yourself as a “champion of the solution.”
Manage the money…
If you’re fortunate you’re far enough removed from major centres where this is goofy gossip and presently not much more. If not you’re facing all kinds of erratic behaviour, regardless I can pretty much assure you of one thing.
We normally see a “business bump” right now, where you’re growing, accelerating into spring until late May or early June.
May of you aren’t going to see that, which means the summer “levelling off” period has just begun, and likely you are unprepared with not nearly enough momentum (or more likely unable to maintain it due to the hysteria.)
Manage the money, keep your spending tight, preserve cash. Use your intuition to support your team and yet manage costs.
If you find attendance massively dropping open discussions with landlords etc asking for relief and rebates once this period passes, point is it’s going to have to get distributed across all levels so do appeal to them for support as necessary.
The light at the end of the tunnel…
For the moment we’re in a hold & sustain kind of situation, just play it day by day and see what people’s perception and response is like (I believe a number of small markets will face little to no disruption at all, small town folk tend to ignore the outside world and keep their wits about them a little better I’d say.)
Expect that things will be a bit depressed until we reach mid August if all of this blows over between now and late May. Come September I believe you will see a bigger ramp up than usual, and continue to press the notion that all of this is further reason we all must take more control of our health and maintain a regular program of “self-care.”
So weather the storm and it will pay dividends, it always does, but me personally I’ll continue to maintain a conservative approach through this time of uncertainty.
If I can help, I always want to. I do encourage you to join my public Facebook group the Ft-Pro Think Tank(https://www.facebook.com/groups/fitprothinktank/), I’m happy to answer any questions you have and if you’re ever looking for more personalized guidance I am looking to take on about 3-4 more clients (that’s not scarcity, very real I like to keep my community small where I can be very engaged with each member.)
Have fun and wash your hands. 🙂
P.S. I’m gonna host a FREE live zoom “Ask Me Anything” session next week, join the Fit-Pro Think Tank for details to attend. https://www.facebook.com/groups/fitprothinktank/