I’ve invited Aleya Harris to share her thoughts today. Aleya is an award-winning marketer and former chef and catering company owner, is the Owner of Flourish Marketing, an agency that provides marketing education, strategy, and tools to help wedding, catering, and event professionals get and keep a consistent stream of clients.   Aleya is a StoryBrand Certified Guide and she uses that narrative-based framework to develop clear, engaging, and highly-converting marketing assets, likewebsites andsocial media solutions, for her clients.  Aleya is the current Marketing Committee Chair for NACE and a top speaker at conferences and events like Catersource and The Special Event.

You are exhausted, a little short of breath, and are even sweating just a tad.  Your heart is pounding and overall, you just feel horrible.  This is the panic that has been slowly setting in ever since you started postponing events, laying off staff, and trying to figure out how many months you can survive on your savings. 

Panic is insidious.  It seems to creep into all areas of your life and paralyze you.  Feeling completely debilitated, it is difficult to see what “the next right thing” is, to quote Anna from Frozen 2.

But, you can push through panic to a productive state with a pivot plan.

Step 1: Support Yourself Through a Mindset Shift

Before you can begin to feel motivated and gain traction in adjusting your business to fit within the current climate, you need to make sure that your basic needs are met.  Abraham Maslow, a psychologist and the founder of humanistic psychology, created Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs in which he illustrates that if your physiological and safety needs aren’t taken care of, you won’t be able to focus on anything else. Take care of yourself first so you can take care of others.

This might look like applying for SBA loans, finding a temporary job, or selling assets to create a sense of security for yourself.  It might also look like focusing on moving your body, drinking more water, and writing in a gratitude journal.  Do what you need to free your brain up to be able to focus on giving instead of receiving.  Generosity will not only uplift your spirit but will also help you build your brand.

Step 2: Give Away Free Stuff

Although you may not be able to express your craft as you would normally, your expertise wasn’t canceled along with your events. You just need to find another channel to share it. Take your talents online and provide solutions to your audience’s current problems while creating one of your business’ most valuable assets, an email list.

Start by thinking about your client’s top problem.  Write 1-2 pages that provide helpful advice to solve that problem and package it into a nice looking PDF.  That bundle of valuable knowledge is called a lead-generating PDF.  Promote the lead magnet using social media ads, put it on your website, and add it to your email signature.  Give your PDF away for free in exchange for an email address.  As you start building your email list, make sure to send weekly emails to begin to develop relationships.  You aren’t trying to sell them anything.  Your goal is to add value and stay top-of-mind so that when this is all over, they will think of you first when they need your services.

Step 3: Put Yourself Out There

Two of the tell-tale signs of panic are immobility and silence.  As you begin to move from panic to productivity, it is time to get moving and break your silence.  Take to the internet with the sole purpose of being a helpful expert.

Start hosting free Facebook Live events a few times per week where you teach and inspire.  Walk your audience through how to create a seating chart, thank you letter writing techniques, or how to curate their wedding playlist.  Develop or revisit your blog or podcast.  Post daily to social media.  Be present, show up consistently, and come from a place of service.  Not only will this build goodwill, but it will also increase the visibility and likeability of you and your brand.  People buy from who they know, like, and trust.  Use this time to get out there and make valuable connections.

The beautiful thing about crises is that they end.  Our “normal” may look different when the safer at home orders are lifted, but people will continue to get married, have babies, and throw parties.  Instead of focusing on what you have no control over, like when you can get back to work, place your attention on how to manage yourself now to set yourself up for success in the future.  By pivoting from panicked to poised, you can position yourself to be remembered as a key force for positivity and upliftment in our collective crisis story.