As Southwest Florida businesses continue to adapt their operations as a result of COVID-19, many owners and business professionals are reflecting on past experiences and lessons learned as they navigate and pivot. As a 28-year-old business, Priority Marketing, like many local companies, has persevered through many turbulent times.
As I reflect on past crises, from COVID-19 to the economic downturn of 2008, there are three guiding business practices that have best served our company, and many of our clients, through challenging times.
No. 1, partnership and flexibility. As an entrepreneur, building long-term, mutually beneficial relationships is a priority. Beyond providing a full scope of marketing services, our firm prides itself on being a partner in every sense of the word – being a trusted counselor, strategist and champion in good times and bad.
In the face of such difficulty, it’s important to be flexible and quick-acting to develop new strategies as our clients’ business operations and resources changed. We’ve helped clients adapt their business plans and marketing strategies to meet the changing needs and behaviors of consumers. In the current climate, more consumers have been online and watching television, so we worked with clients to tailor their strategy and messaging accordingly to maximize these channels. Clients like Norman Love Confections, for example, were successful with digital marketing strategies to drive online orders at a time when they saw an increase of consumers online and fewer guests at retail locations.
No. 2, diversification. When I started Priority Marketing, we were primarily serving the real estate industry, but quickly grew our portfolio of clients to diversify the company. That has served us well, especially during the real estate bust in 2008. Today, we represent a variety of industries, including attractions and entertainment, hospitality, retail, medical, construction, legal, financial, medical, government, education, sports, nonprofit organizations, and locally-owned businesses. Much like investment advisors who recommended a diversified portfolio, Priority Marketing’s diversified client base and skill sets of employees allowed the firm to sustain during the recession, as well as during the pandemic.
No. 3, communication. Open, honest and frequent communication keeps everyone in the loop and empowers employees to make informed decisions about their health, safety and wellbeing. During the pandemic, employees needed to know safety is a priority and work routines could be adjusted based on personal comfort levels. The company also recognized that employees had special circumstances, like a need for child care, that presented obstacles in returning to the office, so work-from-home options were widely offered. Staying true to our company’s core values helped keep everyone focused on our mission and desired outcomes for clients, employees, vendors, the company and the community.
With information changing so rapidly, communication for businesses was more important than ever. Now, as businesses work to reopen, Priority Marketing is developing customized, integrated marketing reactivation plans to reinvigorate brands, remind current customers about products and services, and engage with new customers. A smart and strategic approach helps reach the right audiences in the right places at the right moments.
While lessons learned from hardships are painful, they equip us with the tools that we need to manage our business and employees through tough times, and even grow and prosper. In difficult times, we remain focused on working for solutions.
About the Author
Teri Hansen, APR, is president and creative director at Priority Marketing. For more information, please visit PriorityMarketing.com, call 239-267-2638 or email Teri@PriorityMarketing.com.