May 26, 2020

The right response to adversity can be the difference between thriving or surviving

When it comes to times like these, being in business can seem like a battle that is too exhausting to continue to fight. While it may seem like an impossible task, pushing forward through challenging circumstances can be the key to outpacing your competition.

What mentality is currently driving, or stalling, the progress of your business?

Most brands/companies are in one of the following four categories:

boxing glove iconFIGHT
• Being reactive but being aggressive
• Trying to squeeze the juice from every raisin
• Re-examining priorities, products, and services for relevance
• Revisiting all clients to see where support makes sense
Shoe print iconFLIGHT
• Cutting as much as possible
• Considering closure
• Trying to save a seemingly sinking ship
• Having a hard time facing the realities of leadership
• Putting all marketing on hold
Lock iconFREEZE
• Learning to adjust
• Trying to tread water, holding back on marketing investments
• Literally putting business on hold
• Making the hard decisions like lay-offs and closures
Bolt iconSURGE
• Pivoting to get ahead
• Re-evaluating brand, products, offers, and clients
• Taking advantage of new opportunities
• Recalibrating to come out of the gate with a vengeance

Ideally, you take the “surge” position because this is the place to focus on thriving over surviving. Of course, not everyone can adopt this mindset. For some businesses forces beyond control are at work and the only thing to do is face fight, flight, or freeze.

Conversely, for businesses that can continue to operate, sustain revenues, and manage cash flow in uncertain times, a surge mindset is critical. Not only does it support economic velocity, it also helps those companies that are faced with cutting back and laying low by working to create consumer confidence and accelerated business activity.

Why embrace a surge mindset?

  • Project an image of strength and stability when instability and uncertainty is becoming the norm.
  • Take advantage of your competition’s decrease in marketing exposure, which offers you a chance to re-position and benefit from the reduction in competing noise. 
  • Accelerate the possibility for growth rather than having to simply recover from a time of stagnation.  
  • Take advantage of reduced advertising costs or opportunities for negotiation on your current spend level. Most of your marketing vendors do not want to lose you as a client and will work with you to minimize their own losses.
  • Utilize downtime to re-evaluate your business and refine the things that you have been wanting to work on.
  • Get clear about who you are, who you serve, and what you sell. Once you have that clarity, share your value proposition with the right audiences.   
  • Be a thought leader! Offer your unique expertise (assuming it is relevant) to reap the benefits of gaining future market share. Exposure at a time of uncertainty gives you a voice, which forges you as a subject matter expert.

While it is important to maintain exposure, it is also critical to be empathetic. This is not a time for shameless self-promotion, aggressive selling, or using the crisis as a platform for opportunism. The idea behind a surge mindset is to be thoughtful and strategic about ways you can maintain a consistent level of business activity, grow your business, or enhance it to build future momentum.

Regardless of your motives, tactics that appear to be predatory will likely damage your public image and turn off potential clients, so it is important to use a lens of compassion when thinking about ways to surge forward.

What next?

There will be a next, but it will look different. How can you be ready and stay in the surge mindset?

If you are facing forced transformation, why not seize the opportunity? This is the time to take advantage of reevaluation.

  • Look at your brand: Have you outgrown it? Is it time for a remodel?
  • Take a look at your message: Is it relevant? Is it compelling? Is it clear/consistent?
  • Review products/ services: Repackage; introduce new products and service, or cut those that are not profitable
  • Evaluate clients: Is it time to cull the list or pivot to new markets?
  • Consider what you offer that can be helpful and supportive of those in your network or community at large.

Remain visible and be human:

  • Be a leader: This is not a time to put your head in the sand and hope things go back to normal.
  • Be empathetic: This is a time to connect authentically with those around you rather than stuff sales and marketing messages down their throats. While it is a fine line, taking a position of empathy can help you navigate the right message and approach.
  • Be relevant: Find ways to create value and be an asset to your clients, colleagues, and community.  
  • Shift from a competitive mindset to a partnership mindset: Can you work with your competitors to expand your reach and offerings? 
  • Get creative and engage your whole team in strategies for identifying and accelerating opportunity.
  • Be ready to come out of the gate with a vengeance by knowing what you need, want, and can achieve post-crisis.

Brands and organizations that find ways to market through a downturn often recover faster, with a greater competitive advantage, and increased market authority! Simply thinking “surge” can help redirect your attention to gaining opportunity instead of losing it.


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