CEO Branding in the Age of Coronavirus
While governors and groundhogs may be telling you to hunker down, now is not the time to follow your burrowing instincts. Yes, the business landscape has been flipped on its head for the foreseeable future. The stock markets are uncertain and consumer spending is predicted to tailspin. But times of misfortune are also times of opportunity. In this crisis, as in the 2008 crisis, stories will emerge. Stories of companies that played against the odds. Where others saw confusion, they saw opportunity, and they didn’t hesitate to strike. Which side of history will you be on?
THE NEW PARADIGM
· Reduced Consumer Spending: Average consumer spending is predicted to contract substantially, even pending Federal intervention following Goldman’s predictions of a 24% GDP contraction in the next quarter. Expect elastic and discretionary goods to significantly reduce in spending volume.
· No Freedom of Movement: Governments across the world have taken unprecedented action in reducing population movement. Traditional methods of marketing such as signage and local SEO will be utterly ineffective.
· Fragility: Innate fragility of numerous cash-poor businesses coming to light (such as the airline industry predicted to be almost entirely bankrupt by May without a cash bailout.) Numerous others enterprises, from the obvious (restaurants and hotels) to the less so (marketing agencies) predicted to go bankrupt in the near future.
· Virtualization: Virtual work overtaking all physical interactions.
STRATEGIES TO THRIVE IN THE AGE OF CORONAVIRUS
While fear during this crisis abounds, the new business landscape is also ripe with opportunity:
CREATE A NEW BUSINESS
With global asset freezes, stock market overturns, and offices closed down, any entrepreneur has a significant edge over the competition. In the next 6-12 months, all the big guys will be too busy figuring out how to stay alive to pay attention to you. That makes this the perfect time to launch that stealth project you’ve been thinking of away from the prying eyes of better-capitalized competitors. Additional PR and branding during coronavirus will give you an extra edge during the crisis.
POACH NEW EMPLOYEES
A lot of people are looking to jump ship right now. With a few phone calls and LinkedIn messages, you could be positioning your firm to poach top brass from major hospitality chains, food chains, airlines and much more.
FOCUS ON REBRANDING DURING COVID-19
Rebranding takes time, time most active businesses don’t have. With this global timeout, you will have the opportunity to schedule all-star consultants for the rebrand of your dreams, ensuring your business ROI and branding impact will be that much higher once this is all over.
DEVELOP NEW SKILLS
This is a rare opportunity for companies to turn inward. What are your skill deficiencies? Sales, HR? Maybe you want to teach your employees new software? Maybe your assistant can now also become your graphic designer. Now is the time to take an off-season and train yourself up for the big leagues. Software such as Udemy or massive free online courses at Coursera, EdX, and others, as well as consultant driven training programs can give you a massive edge once the Coronavirus clears out.
RIDE THE COVID BANDWAGON
Covid-19 is the new hottest trend of 2020. Now is the time to dust off your old content and offerings and find a way to make it relevant again. Are you a fitness coach? Create a Covid-19 exercise routine. Nutritionist? Covid-19 diet. Accountant? Tax implications of Covid-19. Whatever the industry, find some way to stamp the zeitgeist on it and ride the bandwagon, optimizing for Google’s discover feeds, social media and more.
Your customers are now stuck inside with absolutely nothing to do. That 3-minute marketing video you made last year that no one watches? It’s time to dust if off and roll it back out because the bar for entertainment just got a lot lower. Customers are now willing and ready to consider new pitches, new products, and new perspectives. They are hungry for it. There is a glut of stimulation. The biggest part of one’s day, the work day, has just gone up in smoke and what is left is a deluge of depressing social media and a tired Netflix playlist that never quite seems to have what you want to watch. Cash is king, so they say. In this context, content is also king; a new type of currency. Perhaps a particularly modern problem, your ability to alleviate your customers boredom can win you thousands of lifetime customers.
MAKE NEW CONNECTIONS
If you aren’t on LinkedIn, you should be. Did I mention everyone’s at home? That includes CEOs, investors, and all kinds of folks you would never normally get a meeting with. Create a professional LinkedIn profile, with Sales Navigator, optimize your profile, and start messaging people you would normally never be able to get a meeting with. You may be surprised at the results.
BUY, BUY, BUY
Valuable business assets are now low hanging fruit.
· Cheap advertising: Did you know Marriott has their own en-suite magazine? As do most of the major airlines? Now is the time to lock in a sweet advertising contract with restaurant chains, hotels, airlines and anybody else on the ropes. Aside from that, all other ad channels are down and open to long term contracts.
· Conference Sponsorships: Lucrative 2021 and 2022 conference sponsorships, with booths and banners are available for cash-strapped, cancelled conferences.
· Manufacturing deals: No, China isn’t a deserted contamination zone. In fact, they have reduced their new cases down to almost 0. And they are still the heart of the world’s manufacturing. If you produce something physical, now is the time to line up, hug China, and be one of the first to welcome it back into the fold. Factories there are hurting, bad. Worse than the US. You will have leverage for a profitable multi-year manufacturing contract that can push your costs down for years to come.
· Commercial properties, fleets, office equipment and much more, are all on sale. Not to mention direct buys of smaller companies or equity in larger ones.
Times of turmoil are not for the faint of heart, but no one ever said entrepreneurship was going to be easy. The businesses who survive this black swan event will inevitably evolve into something stronger, smarter, and more resilient. Face the storm and let its winds carry you into uncharted territory. To feel fear is natural, it will sharpen your instincts. Just remember that creativity and courage can mean the difference between profit and loss, buoyancy and bankruptcy.