1. A few months ago, I read a blog post targeted at people who work in radio. The writer focused on how the listening audience's options had evolved in recent years and that people no longer rely on radio as much as they once did.

    So, he urged, it was time for the medium to adapt.

    As a former radio guy myself, I know it used to be quite common for DJs to ignore incoming phone calls from listeners. They'd let the request line ring because there were too many other things to do while on the air or because, frankly, they didn't want to make the effort to talk with callers.

    But now that radio has lost audience share to podcasts, audio books and streaming music services, each listener has become even more important.

    The writer of the blog post suggested that instead of ignoring the phone or quickly dismissing callers in order to move onto another task, today's DJs should embrace the opportunity to communicate with the people who keep them in business. They should take the time to ask questions of their listeners, find out which types of music they prefer, learn how they like to spend their free time.

    In other words, the DJs should connect with their audience on a personal level and strengthen those "customer" relationships in a way that music apps and satellite feeds can't.

    Your business - and how consumers rely on you - may be changing, too.

    Due to COVID-19, customers might be locked out of your store right now. Maybe they won't be able to enjoy a meal in your restaurant for the foreseeable future. As a result, they might look for temporary alternatives. Or, they might realize they can do without you.

    Yes, the marketplace has shifted dramatically in only a matter of weeks, but with that shift comes an opportunity for positive change.

    How will you adapt?

    Will you dare brush off a customer (or even a potential customer) ever again or tolerate employees who do? Or will you re-asses your commitment to customer service and provide the consistent training every staff needs?

    Or, better yet, can you choose to think of this fracture in your company's timeline as a beginning? Could you seize this opportunity to build a new foundation, one that would support the type of business you've always wanted to run? A company that exists to provide the ideal customer experience? A group of people that inspires loyalty from its employees and buyers? An organization that's the envy of others in your industry?

    This is a chance to start over - to whatever extent you want.

    What will you do with that chance?

  2. Companies always need problem solvers - people who can react effectively to tough, unusual or unexpected situations; people who can adapt to changing conditions.

    So, if you're a college student who's graduating soon or you're already working but considering a job change, think strategically now about your response to the coronavirus. Then, you'll be prepared for questions like these:

    • How did you make the most of your last few months at school, despite the interruption to classes? What did you do to continue your education or build your professional network?

    • Did you come up with any ideas to help your current company respond to specific challenges during the outbreak?

    • How did you invest your time while quarantined? Which skills did you develop? Did you take on any pro bono or passion projects?

    • Can you provide examples of how you demonstrated leadership? Ingenuity? Courage?

    • What did you do to help others in your workplace? Your neighborhood?

    In other words, how did you make the best of this tough, unusual, unexpected situation?

    Your answer to that question could go a long way toward proving your unique value as a problem solver.

  3. I ordered some take-out from Waffle House yesterday because 1) I love Waffle House and 2) Did I mention I love Waffle House?

    When I walked in, I noticed that the place was spotless!

    I asked the waitress how many people had been in that day. “You’re the third,” she said.

    The restaurant was immaculate because the waitress had time she wouldn’t normally have to dedicate to deep cleaning.

    In a previous post, we encouraged you to look for opportunities to reach out to those affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Now may also be the perfect time to look inward to strengthen your company.

    If you spent your pre-pandemic workdays serving customers, it’s understandable that you and your staff may have neglected your brand’s needs over the years. But the government-mandated closings and social distancing that have temporarily driven away customers also allow you the chance to re-train your staff, bring in experts to sharpen their skills, and elevate your commitment to an exceptional buying experience by defining your expectations of employees.

    A few more suggestions...

    Consider your brand. How might you need to tweak or refresh it for a post-corona world? Use this time to create a proper marketing calendar, re-design or punch up your website, write and schedule blog content with a strong perspective, or think of how you might use video more effectively. (We can help you with all of those.)

    Conduct an audit of your operations, re-evaluate your vendors and supply chain, or consider the efficiency of your building’s floorplan.

    Increase your recruiting efforts. There could be a lot of people looking for work or a new direction in the wake of COVID-19. Put in the effort now to get your company firing on all cylinders and it’ll be a more attractive option for top talent.

    Prepare to tell your story. Once this is all over, use your marketing content to let customers, prospects and potential hires know how this moment in time made you better, leaner, smarter and ready to take on future challenges.

    Investing in your own brand right now - while you have the time - could pay huge dividends once the coronavirus blows over. Embrace this temporary slowdown as a chance to get your own (Waffle) house in order.

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  4. Yes, COVID-19 is affecting the walk-in traffic of many brick-and-mortar businesses, but you can adjust your online strategy and content to limit the pandemic's effect on your digital marketing.

    Check out these tips from MadAveGroup’s Digital Marketing Strategist Nathan Steinmetz.

    Social Media
    • If necessary, update your business hours on all your social pages.
    • If you’ve canceled or postponed events or appointments, let your followers know how and when you’ll be re-scheduling.
    • Double-check your scheduled posts and paid social ads to make sure their tone is still appropriate. A fun post promoting St. Patrick’s Day, for instance, may not be the best idea right now.
    • Share the steps your business is taking to keep your staff and customers safe. Highlight any actions that are different from those listed by other companies.
    • Consider using social media to urge your followers to support your community. Provide links to fundraisers, promote local businesses that are still open, etc.

    Email Marketing
    • Email your clients, prospects, staff and subscribers with information on your updated hours, closings, cancellations and how to re-schedule appointments.
    • Are some or all your employees working from home? Alert your customers in advance if there’s a chance of communication delays or a reduction in the quality of the service you provide. Re-establish your buyers’ expectations before problems arise related to your staff's telecommuting.

    • Add a page that includes details on any changes to your business: new hours, closings and cancellations, the extra precautions you’re taking, etc. Then, add a banner to your most popular pages to direct visitors to that new coronavirus information.
    • Create blog posts on how your business is making a difference during the crisis. Showcase how you’re helping others and the unique solutions you’ve developed to serve your customers.

    Local Listings
    • If necessary, update your Google My Business pages and any other local listings pages to show your adjusted hours.
    • Use Google My Business messaging to share information related to closings, adjusted hours, re-scheduling appointments, etc.

    All Digital Advertising
    • Re-evaluate any ads you’re running. Make sure the copy and tone are appropriate, considering the current climate.
    • Depending on your company’s financial situation, consider increasing, decreasing or pausing current ad campaigns until the crisis is over.

    • Virtually everyone’s routine has been disrupted and will continue to be for many weeks. Consider how this new reality will affect people’s online behaviors and motivations. For example:

    • Many people will be home without as much to do, so they may be spending more time online.
    • Those same people may be using mobile devices from home, rather than the desktop computer they use at work. Is your site mobile-friendly?
    • Certain people trying to be even more productive while working at home may tackle projects they haven’t previously had time for. Do they need your products, software, online lessons or other services?
    • Similarly, businesses experiencing a slow-down may be able to dedicate time to projects they’ve put off in the past and may now need your expertise.

    Let us know if we can help you with any of these adjustments. 

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  5. “There is always a little bit of heaven in a disaster area.”

    If you’re a fan of the 1970 concert film Woodstock, you may remember that quote from Wavy Gravy, one of the event’s stage announcers.

    I was reminded of the line after reading about a Michigan restaurant that’s offering free boxed lunches to kids whose schools have closed due to coronavirus.

    And I’m absolutely certain I’ll see many more stories like it in the weeks to come.

    Because that’s what Americans do.

    As politically divided as we are, as enraged as we become when we’re cut off in traffic, as petty as we can be in response to an opposing point of view on Facebook, we step up when our neighbors need help.

    That’s how we respond.

    But this thing that’s going around now - this may be different.

    It’s not an earthquake or hurricane that affects a small portion of the country. It’s not a workplace shooting that devastates “only” one town. This thing may touch all of us. Or get close, anyway.

    And given that “social distancing” is the best protection we’ve got right now, it’s understandable that our first reaction might be to run from each other.

    But, as is so often the case, this moment in time is an opportunity to come together. The only question is "how?" 

    It may start with identifying a need in your own neighborhood or town, just as the folks at that Michigan restaurant did. 

    So, stay open to the ways you can make a difference; how you and your company can help, not for the profit of it, but because you’re a member of the human community.  

    Coronavirus may fizzle out as quickly as it came, or it may prove to be a serious concern for decades. We don’t know right now. But we do know we need people with ideas and companies with resources to provide that little bit of heaven during this disaster.