After spending over 27 years working in the marketing industry, I have had the unfortunate luck to see severe economic challenges close-up. I watched the aftermath of the devastating 9/11 terrorist attacks end one of the longest periods of economic growth that our country had seen. The Global financial Crisis of 2008 caused many businesses like ours to go out of business. Capital was tight and banks were much stricter in granting even fewer business loans. Now we are in what is being called the COVID-19 Recession. Over 470,000 Americans have lost their lives and more than 24 million people lost jobs in just three weeks. Others are working from home and everyone is trying to stay at home as much as their position allows.
The question is how do we as business leaders survive one of the most severe health crisis and economic downturns to hit the world? Winston Churchill said it best in his first speech to the British people while he was alone in what would eventually become World War II, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”
What this means to you as a business owner is to keep your marketing efforts moving forward. Yes, you are not going to see the return that you once did, but it is important to tell your customers that you are still open for business now and you will still be here when this is over.
Take this period of downtime and use it to your best advantage. Remember those moments when you wished that your team had more time to work on one project or another? Well now is the time to develop that new website strategy or focus on better defining your core customers. Get your team moving on projects that make your company better.
You may have to make the tough calls. Lay-offs and furloughs cannot always be avoided. If your financial situation compels you to reduce staff, try furloughs. A loyal hardworking staff is hard to assemble. In a furlough, you can decrease hours for budget reduction and still give your employees a reduced salary while keeping their medical benefits intact. Unfortunately, some businesses have no other choice but to lay employees off. It is a tough gut-wrenching decision, but no one said being the boss was easy.
Finally, continue to communicate to your best and potential customers. Yes, your budget for promotion will not be what it was in better times, but the one thing that I know for sure is that whatever the economic downturn, the American economy always bounces back. When that happens, your customers will remember you because you never stopped talking to them even when they were not able or ready to buy.
Many have written off the American economy in past downturns, but I’ve always seen American ingenuity and strength grow through the adversity. The COVID-19 Recession is no different. Good luck in these tough times and remember, keep going.
Paul Brierly is Founder, President and CEO of JP Enterprises Unlimited. Paul thanks God for blessing the agency with so many outstanding team members who have won numerous creative awards. He lives in Suburban Pittsburgh with his wife, Nicole.