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What can small-to-large businesses, educational institutions, and other organizations do to make the best of the current situation? How we manage the chaos in these uncertain times will ultimately determine our success or failure. Here are 9 key steps to help you find success.

9 Key Steps for Managing COVID-19 Economic Impact

  1. Remote Work: Do It Better
  2. The New Online Life: Time to Adapt
  3. Events: Replace In-Person With Online Alternatives
  4. Digital Strategy: Implement a Digital-Forward Strategy
  5. Marketing ROI: Raise The Bar on ROI From Marketing Spend
  6. Cutting Costs: Think Before Chopping Your Marketing Team
  7. Online and Local Presence: Focus on Your Online and Local Presence
  8. Stay Secure: Batten Down the Hatches
  9. The Future: Look Toward the Future

But first, what is the current situation?

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Our Current Perspective

Seth Viebrock, Founder and CEO at O8
Seth Viebrock, CEO

As a strategic digital agency, we are poised to offer knowledge and advice that can save entire businesses during these troubled times. I do not take this lightly. 

We are also an SMB, a small-to-medium business with 1 to 999 employees – as you may be too – trying to pivot and stay healthy during these uncertain times. We're in this together – let's help each other out. 

While many are struggling, we have to think smart, strategically, and dial back the panic as much as we can. An HBR study found that firms that cut costs faster and deeper during a recession don't necessarily flourish. They have the lowest probability (21%) of pulling ahead of the competition after the recession is over.

While no one can predict the future right now, we can certainly try by consolidating all we know from scientists, public health experts, and those who study pandemics. That's why we added a section called "Look Toward the Future" – we all have to find a way to look forward through the difficult times.

1. Do Better Remote Work

The coronavirus has forced a large part of the Western world to work from home. This is new for some, not-so-new for others, but it involves processes and an artform that can be constantly improved.

Why Do I Know?

I have been working remotely since 2006. Since I founded this company in 2010, we have been featured in Forbes and Entrepreneur Magazine as one of the forerunners in remote work. We have learned a lot about what works well, and what doesn't. We have time-tested a variety of tools and demoed most of the alternatives out there.

I'm going to list the tools, tips, and insights we have collected over the last 10 years. We receive zero commissions – we simply want you to succeed during these tough times and quickly navigate the dizzying array of choices. These are all good, smart, safe choices. Don't get suck in analysis paralysis -- get signed up, test it out, see if you like it, then get things moving: now is the time to act. 

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2. Adapt to the New Online Life

People are social creatures by nature, and the disruption to that by COVID-19 has drastically changed how people live their lives online, what they spend time on, what platforms they use, and how they interact.

It has also shifted the way we should communicate and show empathy for people in a wide variety of situations, i.e. how we reach out to each other,  our advertising messages, and how we avoid being "tone deaf" in general across all media.

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3. Events: Replace In-Person With Online Alternatives

Everything from networkers to conferences to fundraisers are being moved online. Previously held beliefs about why events "had to be" held in-person are dissipating as people find new ways to interact online.

Right now, people are craving human-to-human social interaction, idea-sharing, collaboration, networking, and face-to-face contact.

Read on for more information about the tools to use, recommended event structure, and tips for emulating more complex events, such as a conference, or social functions like networkers and meetups. We also discuss social media as part of your event strategy, including hashtags and various live-streaming options.

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4. Implement a Digital-Forward Strategy

What is a digital-forward strategy? The world changed almost in the blink of an eye, and will continue to change as this pandemic impacts the world. Everyone, everywhere, will be more digital once this pandemic gets under control. The degree which you embrace this now will determine your future success.

What this all looks like from a technical, marketing, and strategic perspective is what we are calling #TheNewMix. While we don't like creating hashtags from disasters, they can help people think about an important new concept that we all have to understand in order to adapt. The faster you can adapt, the better off you and the livelihood of your company or organization will be.

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5. Raise The Bar on ROI From Marketing Spend

As an experienced marketing professional and owner of a digital agency, we list and delve into the 6 most common pitfalls we see in a company’s marketing efforts that are killing its competitiveness, efficiency, and ROI from marketing spend. 

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6. Think Before Chopping Your Marketing Team

Right now, it can be tempting to consider outsourcing in order to reduce costs. While that can work in some areas of your business operations, it can be a disaster for your marketing department. There is actually an alternative called "nearsourcing" that can help your marketing team adapt, thrive, and drive ROI during uncertain times.  

While nearsourcing can reduce costs as you scale and grow by avoiding or delaying the need for new hires, it can also be used to fill gaps if you do have to reduce or furlough staff in order to cut costs during these difficult times.

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7. Focus on Your Online and Local Presence

Many businesses have been negatively affected or even closed down by the pandemic and government decrees. However, many can pivot and adjust. 

Whether your business is a pet store offering cuddly companions during the pandemic, or a healthcare services provider, grocer, restaurant, or any other establishment that may be able to weather the storm, people will and want to buy local, and they will certainly move their purchasing activity online. 

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8. Stay Secure: Batten Down The Hatches

There are certain steps you can take to "batten down the hatches" and tie up loose ends that could be harmful in a more vulnerable situation:

  1. Bulletproof your team and business operations.
  2. Contingency planning
    1. In case key players at your company get sick (including the CEO) or things get worse.
  3. Use available resources
    1. Monitor the SBA's disaster assistance program if funding gets tight.
      1. As of 3/31/2020 they are offering a $10,000 advance for those who need funds quickly.
    2. Monitor your local office of employment and economic development. Here is the office from our state, Minnesota.
  4. Stay secure and up-to-date.
    1. People will have both (1) more time, and (2) increased economic inequality and need, which is a breeding ground for hacking and malevolent behavior.
    2. Protect yourself. Keep your web presence and IT infrastructure secure and up to date.

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9. Look Toward The Future

We have been tracking scientists, public health officials, and people who study pandemics like Bill Gates. We are also looking at the data, and learning as much as we can. 

None of us can predict the future with great accuracy at this point – not even the WHO, CDC, or the greatest scientists in the world – but there are certain things we do know.

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