By Ryan Devers
Like a lot of things lately, l have changed this 3-month-scheduled blog topic more than once in the last couple weeks. In fact, I almost made this a Video Blog (the scientific term for the millennial slang term, “vlog”). I thought it would be the best way to make this real. Then, I remembered that I have a face for radio and a voice for writing. Look, I love words. I love them like a friggin’ rockstar loves chords, bright lights and crazy, screaming fans…So I decided, “Forget the vlog. Let’s get real. Let’s actually write some $h!+ and have fun doing it.” How often do we actually get the opportunity to write about how we actually feel and share some raw emotion?
So…what is happening? Does anyone have an answer? A guide map? Some cliff notes? Am I all alone here and on the brink of madness?!
Am I in a chocolate river in that creepy tunnel with Willy Wonka right now? (If you didn’t just have a flashback and need some reference, watch this clip. It’s actually crazy that this was in a movie targeted at children. I still have nightmares.) Willy Wonka Wondrous Boat Ride
At the very moment I am writing this, advertising as we know it and have rocked for the last few years is dead, for now. The world has changed. There is a new “acceptable answer” every week…Scratch that. Every day. Scratch that…every hour! So, what do we do!?
When sales-based advertising is not the answer, aka…when “buy me, save on this, discount that, you have to buy now, this deal is crazy, we are the best, this diamond shines brighter than Venus in a clear sky, why would you not buy?!” Advertising will not work and could even hurt your reputation…Is there an answer? You probably don’t want to hear this, but it’s time to consider the long-term investment. I know what you’re thinking, “This guy sounds like a broker…”
Look, you will sound like a [Insert word of choice] if you push a big sale, heavy discount or “buy me now” strategy right now. Your message needs to be authentic. You need to be planning for the long term. If you’re going to shout something from the mountain tops, you better prove that it’s because you care about your family, customers and community and the circumstances we’re all facing. This is investment time. Who are you?! A day trader or a game changer? How long do you want to be around? How do you want people to remember you?
I see ads every day. I remember the ads that stand out and don’t sound like the rest. The ones that are emotional, funny, crazy, witty, unique…was there good music? Did it make me laugh? Make me cry? Give me goosebumps?
You have a choice right now. The average person doesn’t care if you have a sale, they’re worried about spending. They don’t care about your history, they’re uncertain about our future. They don’t care if you’re an old friend, they can’t come within 6 ft of you. It’s a harsh reality, but people are scared and who would blame them?
It’s not all bad, I promise. This is a chance for you to pick up the pencil. A chance for you to add a chapter to your story. A chance for you to leave a memorable and positive impression, when it’s needed most. The right message, right now, could actually make a difference in someone’s day, week…life.
Take this time to help and join every person that you’ve looked at as a targeted audience, a marketing segment or a potential customer and just join them. Be a human. You have a successful business, which gives you a voice. You’re not a “Schmardashian” (not sure if I can say the actual name of that family, but you get it). The people in your community know you. They respect you and care about you…they might even consider you family. Just be there for them and with them. Relate to them. Be the human behind your business, not the inanimate brand. Your business is real. You’re real. You always have been. What better opportunity have you ever had to tell everyone…no, SHOW everyone…WHO. YOU. REALLY. ARE. Laugh. Cry. Be a positive influence and a make a difference!
Check your email right now. Seriously…Search “Corona” or “COVID-19.” I know I am being very insensitive right now, but just do it. Read the first few emails you see from any business. Notice anything? Everyone is saying what they HAVE TO SAY. Pretty much a “Copy. Paste. Insert business name and logo” message. PC. PC. Blah, blah, blah…We get it. It “has to be sent” at least once. OK, now that you’re done, answer me this. Do you remember more than one of the companies? Do you remember anything real that one of them said? Did they give you a reason to feel any kind of connection? Send me that email if you did! I want to see it. I know real messages exist and that this is a harsh example, but I know I am not the only one that feels this way.
Now is your chance to be an author, not just a narrator or spectator. Not just the 2nd generation owner or the “typical salesperson.”
Your business is more than 4 walls, a name, a logo and a brand. Be different. Be a positive influence. Use this time to pick up the pencil and add to, build on and make your story even better. There are always problems, excuses and reasons you just “can’t right now.” I am truly sorry if your circumstances are preventing your ability to take action. I know there are situations right now where it is just flat out impossible. You may be in survival mode, and understandably so. But, if you have options, support, your health and a voice, you can make a difference in your community.
Help the people around you. Sharpen your pencil. Tug on heart strings. Give people a reason to smile. Accept an evil, scary and red bottom line as a short-term investment. You will be rewarded for being a good person, a good business and an asset to your community…and you will be remembered when this all turns around.
We will never escape this unscathed. We will carry it with us forever. But one day, we just might be able to look back and see the real-life heroes, the strength, the guts and the heart it took for us all to forge ahead…to help the friends, family and community that got us here in the first place.
So, what’s the action plan here? What exactly can you do? If your circumstances allow…
- 1. Be there. Do not disappear. Make a statement. Post videos of your real thoughts, what you’re doing for your employees and/or your community. Check this out…a friend I have with an incredible restaurant is discounting their entire carryout menu by 50%. All they’re asking their customers to take into consideration, is that anything extra they give will go directly to their staff.
- 2. Give! Property owners, both commercial and residential, are forgiving monthly rent payments, without government incentives. It’s a huge loss for them, but guess what…those renters, those PEOPLE, will love them forever.
- 3. Remind people that they can still live, love and be real. Help them remember good times and give them something to do while they’re stuck in their homes. I heard an idea that a business was creating, printing and mailing their customers a custom puzzle, using a public photo on their Facebook page, of them and their loved ones or an important life celebration.
- 4. Provide a service that people need and truly take care of them, like they were family. Reduce your cut. Make someone’s day. Help them provide for their family. During these times, priorities and needs change. What was a given last week, may not be today. Providing generous and immediate payment for gold, precious metals or old jewelry just might be a huge difference for their family.
- 5. Do your part. Follow the rules. Listen to what the best recommendations are in your community and beyond. You won’t win until everyone does. My clients are the best people on earth. They would do ANYTHING to help right now. They’d be out there, right now, raising money and helping anyone they can…but they’re stuck at home while their brain runs around in circles trying to find solutions. Unfortunately, the only clear solution is to help people find a way to come together, when they need to stay apart.
I’m sure you’re hearing a lot about being “non-essential,” but know that you are essential to every single person around you. You are essential to every single employee, friend and family member around you. You are essential to the community where you live…the state you reside in…the country whose flag you wave…and the world. Everyone is essential and our choices will impact everyone and everything around us.
Let this moment in time become an opportunity to build your story and, one day, it may be a very important chapter in your story…a small building block in the brand that you have given and dedicated your life to.