What to Pivot, What to Keep: Marketing Your Company in a Crisis

 

It’s 2:13am, and Ben finds me in our living room, scribbling furiously in one of those tiny Field Notes journals…

He’s bringing a blanket out to me, because he thinks our dog Edison must have kicked me out of the bed. But I’m not sleeping, I’m working.

Why? I keep waking up in the middle of the night with new ideas for marketing, making money and making an impact. And I worry if I don’t write them down, I’ll forget them in the morning.

Leave it to me, “always working” Amy. While everyone else is having anxiety dreams, I’m jolting awake with creative brainstorms.

It’s such a weird time. There are days that I want to sink into the couch and binge-watch Love Is Blind (so bad!) while working on our baseball-themed jigsaw puzzle. And there are days when I’m totally on, presenting inspiring new ideas to clients in Zoom meetings and fitting in full, 45-minute spin classes. The ups and downs are real.

From what I hear, most of you are feeling the same way. Experiencing pockets of extreme productivity and almost manic creative flow, alternating with moments of zombie-like grief and uncertainty.

That feels human to me. Real and messy and unpredictable. Not to mention, TOTALLY acceptable.

In a sea of uncertainty, it’s natural to look for a buoy of some kind. And when I woke up at 2:13am, I saw one for you.

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I wrote a few weeks back that we can still lead values-first. I didn’t write about how you determine your values in the first place. 

I know you have them. I don’t attract anyone to this blog who isn’t working in a purpose-driven way or from a mission-based perspective.

But have you ever written down exactly what they are? Many of my clients have worked on defining their internal and external values in recent years, and it guides everything they do.

Here’s the simple exercise I use to start our list of values:

We hold a meeting with anyone close to the company (staff, longtime clients and collaborators). 

We start by silently writing descriptive words and phrases that answer these questions on individual post-its:

    • What do we do? 
    • How do we do it? 
    • Who are we? 
    • How do people perceive us? 
    • Who are our ideal clients? 

Then, we gather all our post-its and start grouping the like ones together. We name the categories. And you’d be surprised how quickly a mess of separate descriptions turns into 4-7 really clear values. 

From there, we name our values and explain what we mean by them. You can see some examples from my clients Christopher Duggan and Nel Shelby by visiting those links. 

Even as circumstances evolve and time progresses, your values will likely stay the same. Aren’t these still your guiding principles today? Even during a pandemic?

You can also count on the fact that your expertise, your specialized knowledge, is still as sturdy as it was yesterday. And your superpowers remain your superpowers. 

It’s only how you’ll use your values and expertise and strengths that may have changed.  

OK, it’s kind of reassuring that not everything has changed. But plenty has. So, now what?

 

Well, now you have to ask yourself this: Who needs your expertise right now? How can you deliver on that promise in line with your values? How can you best deliver on them because of your strengths? 

Who you market to may have changed. How you connect with them may have changed. How you serve them may have changed.

But you haven’t become irrelevant. I’m just saying… maybe you don’t have to pivot as much as you thought. 

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I strategize, consult and manage digital marketing and communications for small businesses and creative entrepreneurs. I’m based in Brooklyn, because I have a thing for exposed brick, cozy, local coffee shops and the can’t stop, won’t stop energy of New York.

Because I work with small companies, I get the chance to really know my clients – what makes them tick and how and why they should stand out in a crowded marketplace. A lot of my clients have a smaller staff, a limited budget and are already stretched thin for time. This leads us to tailor marketing strategies and solutions to each company’s unique needs and actual capacity.

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