Have you ever heard a comment or phrase that felt like a punch in the gut? At an online conference last week, the speaker said, “you can make excuses or you can make progress, but you can’t make both.” Boom. That one stung a little.
I thought of the getting in shape, taking better care of health, etc. goals …well … nothing but excuses.
But I also thought about my clients who have been scrambling and hustling to keep themselves afloat – adapting, setting up tents in the parking lot to have “patio dining”, creating online and curbside services, changing their protocols and doing everything they can to safely serve the customers in this time, while protecting their staff. The creativity and sheer determination has been impressive. It reminded me of studies of businesses who came out of the Great Depression strong. One of those businesses was Proctor and Gamble.
During the Great Depression, unemployment soared, spending slowed down, businesses cut back (sound familiar?), many businesses were suffering, much like today. When mainstay grocers cut their orders, that hurt companies like P & G who supplied their products. But they did not just hunker down and wait it out. They got creative and decided that since people would still need soap, they would make sure they were the soap of choice. This quote below comes from an article from Mental Floss tells how they did that.
“Thus, instead of throttling down its advertising efforts to cut costs, the company actively pursued new marketing avenues, including commercial radio broadcasts. One of these tactics involved sponsoring daily radio serials aimed at homemakers, the company’s core market. In 1933, P&G debuted its first serial, Oxydol’s Own Ma Perkins, and women around the country quickly fell in love with the tales of the kind widow. The program was so successful that P&G started cranking out similar programs to support its other brands, and by 1939, the company was producing 21 radio shows—and pioneering the “soap opera.” In 1950, P&G made the first ongoing television soap opera, The First Hundred Years.”
Despite the challenges of the time, the company rose up with creativity to be the soap of choice and it served them well. I know we small businesses don’t have the ad budgets of P & G, but I do totally agree that if you want to outlast this season, creativity and gumption, AND remaining present in marketing will absolutely be essential. You can’t afford to disappear, even if you’re closed at your brick and mortar. Find a way to continue relationship with your customers.
On the flip side, I have encountered other businesses who have been deeply impacted, like the rest of us, but they don’t show up when they say they will, they aren’t communicating, they open late, close early with no notice, their voice mails are full, they don’t answer requests for business. They haven’t updated their websites or Google listings or email footers or answering machines. I can’t tell you how many of my clients have said something like, “the customers are telling me they called 10 companies and no one returned a call.”
I’m not trying to be harsh, and I totally understand the impacts that have taken place, but there are many studies out there (COVID time research) that suggest that more than 50% of the consumers will leave and go somewhere else if the customer experience is bad. I don’t know many businesses, certainly not mine, that can do without half of their customer base. But even if it’s just you left. Answer your phone. Call back. Email. Update your information. Don’t shrink because of challenges. Rise up with gumption and figure out how….even on a limited basis. I know you can!
It’s tough right now – for everyone. But are you making progress during this time? Or are you making excuses? We can’t do both. I truly believe this can be a time of growth. What do you think?