“…by all accounts, this recession is the severest since the Great Depression. The wave of bad economic news is eroding confidence and buying power, driving consumers to adjust their behavior in fundamental and perhaps permanent ways.”
If you’re reading this in March, 2020, you might think that was a headline from the day I wrote this post. In reality, it’s from a 2009 article in Harvard Business Review entitled How to Market in a Downturn.
While empathizing with the desire to cut marketing costs (they’re easy to cut, and don’t necessarily involve letting people go), the authors warn against it, stating:
During recessions it’s more important than ever to remember that loyal customers are the primary, enduring source of cash flow and organic growth. Marketing isn’t optional—it’s a “good cost,” essential to bringing in revenues from these key customers and others.
In other words, don’t forget System 5: Action in The 7 Systems of Influence–keep the content coming, or lose your influence.
As an entrepreneur, I experienced firsthand the economic fallout from the dot-com crash, 9-11, 2008, and long, slow recession afterward, but I’ve never seen anything like COVID-19/coronavirus/pandemic currently on display.
It’s not the pandemic itself that concerns me so much as the reaction to it.
During all the previous crises individuals and businesses had a tendency to adopt a “pause, wait, and see” approach. It’s that “pause” part that does so much damage, and this time the pause is shaping up to be larger than in prior crises.
Some will pause out of necessity–if all your customers suddenly pause, then you’re practically forced to pause along with them, unless you have adequate savings to keep things going. Others will pause because…”Well, how can I commit to anything when everything is crazy?”
Yes, everything may be crazy, but it’s blip. This too shall pass, order will be restored, and there will be those who stopped to see how things would play out, and those who kept on running, and who do you think will be ahead? Not only that, who do you think will have served society more?
If you have the capital required, the best time to invest may be while everyone else is paralyzed. Consider that the following companies were started, or were substantially in startup mode, during periods of widespread economic instability, weakness, and doubt:
- Procter & Gamble
- General Electric
- General Motors
- Burger King
- Hyundai, Samsung, LG
- Apple (twice, first during the downturn in 1975, and was then resurrected from near death during the dot-com crash of 2001)
Like many businesses, individuals in a time of crisis also have a tendency to put the brakes on efforts to invest in themselves. Those who push forward will reap the benefits, and will serve society in a crucial way. Just as those businesses that continue to invest during a downturn help us get out of the downturn, the individuals who keep on going, who lead, help all society.
There is no time when your leadership is needed more than during a crisis.
Here is how three thought leaders are doing it:
- Entrepreneur Adrian Dayton took action by creating the #GenerosityChallenge (see the Forbes article).
- Education expert Kerry McDonald, author of Unschooled, has jumped in to help the millions of parents who are suddenly being forced to homeschool as their children’s schools around the world are closed.
- Billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban has been dispensing valuable advice on LinkedIn, in addition to substantial moves to support his employees.
These thought leaders are helping others shift their thinking and turn something bad into something good. What could you do to serve others by helping them navigate these troubled times and have hope for the future?Liked it? Share it!