Marketing is fun. You get to say and do things that normally aren’t done or said. Good marketing attracts customers like cell phones to water.

But once in a lifetime, the moon turns blue. And something happens, outside your control, threatening your business’s future.

A catastrophe puts your entire operation in crisis. You have to close.

Earth, wind, water, or fire. Something shuts you down for months. You can’t do anything until someone says you can do it again (insurance, government, franchisor, etc.)

What do you do?

The time to sell is over. The time to protect is upon you.
Marketing should not end. It is more important than ever.
Protect your market share as much as you can despite not being able to sell anything.

Communication must continue. Your customers want to know and you must create an expectation.

Every day is a lost opportunity.

Customers need the product, and the twitchy competitor down the street has been rubbing his greasy palms together, waiting to steal your wonderful customers.
Keep your messages rolling.
Remind the customer why they love you.
Over and over again.

Consider it like a series of love letters. You are at war overseas. Your loved ones need to be reminded they are still in your heart.

Have you ever been to the airport watching families waiting for their dad to arrive? Everyone is waiting at the baggage carousel with hugs, claps, and smiles, and the five-year-old girl is jumping up and down.

The customer can’t buy.
Keep them wanting to.
Keep the dialogue going.
Run your radio campaigns.
Post to social media.
Engage, communicate, share, repeat.

Your customers will miss you if you stay in their head.

They’ll be jumping up and down, waiting for your reopening.

During a crisis, you can count on a few things happening.

  1. Employees will get other jobs. If you can get payroll insurance, get it. The strength of your business is the people you’ve hired. If you don’t have payroll insurance, figure out how to pay them or help them find interim employment, hoping they return when all is cleared up.
  2. Suppliers may sell their exclusive products to that twitchy competitor down the street. This is just business. They want to sell stuff, and you’re not an option.
  3. Customers will buy elsewhere.

A lot of people will say they will be there for you, but few will be.
There will be others who talk a good game but look for a quick way to get away from you.
They are rats.
Rats are the first to leave the ship.
Remember them. They were never on YOUR team anyways.

That’s a hard pill to swallow. The rat seems nice. It’s easy to be nice when things go well. His character emerges when things go wrong.

That’s why I call them rats. They nibble on your business like a block of cheddar. Then they run, leaving you to pick up their mess.

Good times will return.

Set traps to keep away future rats.
Hopefully, nothing will go awry again.
A few traps never hurt.

A good captain keeps his ship clean.
A good captain navigates his plan.
A good captain stays until the very end, putting everyone else’s safety ahead of his own.

The time for having fun and farting around is over.
You will be a Phoenix or a pile of ashes.

Everything you know about business will be challenged.
What you become after the crisis is determined by what you do early on.

Be vulnerable. Be real. Be supportive.
And NEVER let them see you sweat.

PS. One of my restaurants was set on fire three separate times in 2019. In the early days, the business phone was transferred to my cellphone. I didn’t stop airing the radio commercials. I talked to customers every day, trying to hold onto them while we rebuilt. After the third fire in late November, we had to do a lot of soul searching. That week, there was an insignificant virus in China discussed on the news. Two months later, on the advice of the great philosopher Kenny Rogers, I folded and ran.

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