Right now, we're driving the road of life and of business without a roadmap or GPS. Sure, the world has endured pandemics before, but imagine what the society of the 1918 Spanish Influenza outbreak would have thought about Zoom meetings or the Tiger King.
While some of us may have a better grasp on how to navigate these times and have a greater understanding of the technologies that can make post-COVID more manageable, the reality is we've never experienced what we're experiencing now.
In some ways, that makes it easier. It's easier because we're all more willing to cut each other some slack. We're more forgiving. We're willing to overlook some mistakes. But there are limits.
On one side of the coronavirus causeway is insensitivity. This is a concept I feel like just about everyone gets, and if you look through your inbox, on websites, or across social media, you'll see a lot of foodservice companies getting it right. They're thinking about support, not sales. They're mindful of the impacts felt across our industry. And most important, people are being sympathetic.
If insensitivity is one of the guardrails on the coronavirus causeway, what's keeping us from falling off the other side of the road? Simply put, it's going dark.
If you happen to be on the Foodservice Consultants Society International email list, you may have seen a recent lead article from editorial director, Michael Jones. In the article, Jones talks about the real dangers of saying nothing at all.
As FCSI surveyed their readers, they found that "staying on top of marketing and getting ourselves out there" was the top priority of all respondents. Jones then discussed the contradictory behavior companies have when we experience economic downturns, and those actions often involve cutting marketing budgets before anything else.
This isn't just in foodservice, either. This is all across the business landscape. I've experienced it personally. Living in New York City during 9/11 taught me how quickly marketing departments can shrink during a crisis. Working as a foodservice marketing director during the 2008 Great Recession was proof that those funds are the first to dry up. And still, time after time, crisis after crisis, marketing is often the first to go. And what does no marketing equal? No press. No way to get your message out. No way to get in front of customers.
It means going dark.
In his piece, Jones highlighted an article in The Evening Standard that showed data behind economic downturns and marketing. Would it surprise you to learn that businesses who cut marketing budgets after the 2000 dot com bubble "took five years to return to sales levels of those who sustained their spend"? Would it surprise you to learn that business who stayed strong in marketing spend in 2008 "recovered nine times faster than competitors"? There are many more examples of this.
The bottom line is you have to continue the conversation with your customers. Be sensitive, of course. That's the easy one. But now is not the time to go dark on people who are expecting to hear from you.
Can I Help?
I am happy to hop on a call with anyone, for as long as you like, to talk about ways that can make your communication effective during this time. For free. No strings. Just foodservice colleague to foodservice colleague.
There are many things I love in life, and two of the most important to me are food and communication. If there's any way I can help make either better in this crazy ass time we're going through, I'm here to help. Just book some time with me using the link below.