COVID-19… It’s become a common word to us all. My eight-year-old comes home from school singing songs about it to various tunes (some are quite clever). My 12-year-old has shown genuine concern for our family and friends in the vulnerable categories and, my husband and I have done everything we can to protect our family’s health while working hard to maintain our roles as providers.
I understand we’re all probably a bit COVID-19 blog fatigued right now so this blog isn’t about how to recover or what you must do next. As a small business owner, I’ve gained some valuable insights that will help shape the way we do things at The Marketing Bungalow moving forward, in a good way. Here are the three (3) positive lessons I’ve experienced during COVID-19. I’d love to know if other SME’s agree.
1. A crisis can strengthen client relationships
When things started to get tough, we braced ourselves for clients to start falling off and pulling out of projects for their survival. It is understandable.
The opposite happened. 95% of our clients continued as usual, and over 50% of our clients amplified their activity due to the need to pivot the way they do things. It was an absolute honour to be the critical support partner our clients trusted to lead the brand and marketing communication efforts for them.
In the whirlwind weeks of March and April, we worked with clients to get their message out to clients, mass media, politicians and suppliers. We did TV interviews in shopping centres, created and delivered multiple educational email marketing campaigns per day and designed an abundance of digital and print marketing materials to support the new normal.
The bond between our team and clients grew stronger still as we all got stuck into it together. Why? Because we were all fighting a common threat, and we wanted each other to survive and thrive.
The lesson? I’m grateful that TMB clients truly embrace and rely on us as part of their team. We all need clients to survive but to have those that you can genuinely connect with for mutual growth and success is something to continually nurture.
2. A committed team can work together from anywhere
We were one of the first SME’s that I knew of to make a move to work from home due to a COVID-19 scare we had with an office visitor. I was terrified that everything was going to fall apart. As marketers and designers, we bounce off each other all day, and the team are regularly asking each other and myself questions. I was prepared to possibly have to start micromanaging our workloads to ensure everyone was staying motivated to support how busy we were servicing clients.
Well, how wrong was I. I have personally been so impressed with the work ethic and commitment of the TMB team during COVID-19. The change of environment did make it harder to have a joke or share a silly story during the day, what it did do though was show myself and the team how capable everyone is to get their role done in their own right and the loyalty we have to each other and our clients to keep things running in unusual circumstances.
The lesson? If you have an excellent team, trust them to do the right thing and they mostly will. It’s good to let go a little, as small business owners we often get involved in more than we should. Let the team have ownership of what they do. Plus, flexible working arrangements will probably be the new normal for TMB within a mutually beneficial framework.
3. Never stop pursuing opportunities
A crisis tends to bring out the best or worst in people. Speaking with clients and colleagues, there have been many stories shared of people showing their true colours in business (good and bad) during the COVID-19 pandemic. Hard times can do this to even the most capable of people.
An abrupt change to the normal makes us all realise that nothing is guaranteed and despite all good intentions sometimes plans don’t go as planned. Being agile, risk-tolerant and proactive can help you push ahead of the pack.
We’ve been delighted to work with clients and engage new clients that haven’t let COVID-19 stop them from completing a project or engaging a marketing and design agency to support their business plan. They’ve pushed harder during the pandemic to gain a competitive edge. Pretty inspiring.
The lesson? Bad things are going to happen along the way. Being brave enough to push ahead and pursue opportunities during a crisis is what can separate you from the competition. You need a plan but be ready to pivot.