Someone told me the other day that they were just holding tight until things settled down and got “back to normal.”
And it occurred to me… that’s not going to happen.
Don’t get me wrong– I firmly believe that we’ll find our way back to a “new normal”. But the situation in which we find ourselves right now is so all-encompassing that continuing to operate “normally” (ie, the way we did just a month ago) is simply out of the question.
So… do we pack it up? If everything we’ve learned and built over the last few years is no longer useful, is the solution to just quit and mourn what we’ve lost?
Um… hell, no.
We can’t stop trying to make our way forward. What we MUST stop doing, though, is trying to act normally. And if anything underscores the notion that we are way past “normal”, it’s the fact that these two statements co-exist:
- Everything has changed.
- Absolutely nothing has changed.
Blake Hayes, the morning show radio host on Coast 93.1 here in Maine, related to me how a new mother had once responded to his question, “How are things since the baby arrived?” Her answer was, “Old life is over. New life began. Everything is different.” A baby is certainly a more positive event than a pandemic, but the underlying principle is very similar. A new mother isn’t able to live her life the way she did before. That doesn’t mean she stops living– it just means she now lives differently.
Are we social distancing, standing at six-foot separation markers at the grocery store, and cancelling gatherings of almost any size? Yes, we are. At this moment in time, everything has changed.
Do customers still have needs? And do businesses still have to come up with ways to communicate how they can fulfill those needs? Yes, and yes. Needs, solutions, communication, conversion. Also at this moment in time, absolutely nothing has changed.
Marketing has always been important. You can’t stop communicating. What you communicate, though—that has to change, because your customers’ needs have changed. And that requires taking a deep breath… realizing that the comfortable routines we were enjoying just a month ago are over… and then creating new routines.
Whether you are selling radio commercials, healthcare, hamburgers, cars, golf, or diamond engagement rings, your ultimate mission is still the same. You have a product that cost you money to obtain, and now you must sell that product to someone else for more than what you paid. This will allow you to keep the lights on, meet payroll, put gas in the car and keep food on the table. If you don’t communicate with your customers in a way that speaks to their immediate need, however, the transaction may never take place.
The businesses who cling the tightest to what was “normal” will find themselves in the rear view mirror—the place where normal now lives.
Those of us who dive headfirst into these uncharted waters and learn to swim differently will be around well into the future.
Everything has changed.
Nothing has changed.
If you’re going to solve the problems we face right now, you’ll need to take “normal” out of the equation.