This is not on any map: A letter from Brion EriksenPosted by: Brion Eriksen
We’re all in this together … no matter where “this” is.
If you’ve clicked on this post, you’re probably one of our clients or colleagues, (also known collectively as our friends). If you’re a “new” friend, thank you for clicking! I’m the founder and owner of Elexicon. I can’t believe it’s been over three weeks since that Monday in mid-March when we all returned to work from the weekend, for the most part via webcam from our home offices. The COVID-19 crisis arrived so quickly, and now does not appear to be leaving any time soon — like it’s moving in fast-forward and slow-motion at the same time … such a strange time. We’re all in uncharted territory without a map, as parents of children, as children of older adults, and as professionals and business owners.
From my point of view of being a small business owner, I wanted to give you an update on what we’re doing and how we’re doing, now that I have a few weeks of perspective. At Elexicon we’re doing our part to social-distance, we continue helping our clients, and we stand at the ready to help more. We’re especially thankful for the health care workers who are on the front lines of the battlefield for us. They inspire us every day.
Work and the office
We moved into a new office in downtown Grand Rapids in December, and we’re located just above the row of restaurants, a coffee shop, bars and a microbrewery on Ionia Avenue. It’s been sad and surreal to see the once-bustling street go quiet, and those great new neighbors that we were just beginning to get to know need to close down. We’re looking forward to hearing the muffled sound of voices and music from HopCat below us, and the shouts and honks from the street outside again soon. Now that we’re settled in, we might otherwise be planning an open house right now that would spill down into visiting you all, as well. We wish everyone the best.
Our new office is smaller than our previous home base, a decision we made because our team had become a hybrid of office- and home-based workers. Some were in the office all the time, some worked from home most of the time, and some had a mixed schedule. As a result, the all-work-from-home approach for Elexicon has been a smooth transition. Our work continues, perhaps not quite business-as-usual, but let’s call it business-as-unusual.
The COVID-19 crisis has impacted our clients in different ways. I won’t go into much detail about who they are or specifically how they were affected, but our clients are generally falling into three categories of impact. We’ve had a small handful of great clients who unfortunately were abruptly impacted, each in their unique way, by the cancellations and postponements of live events. We’re already seeing them improvise their offerings into the virtual space, but they have understandably needed to scale back their work with us on digital services and marketing.
For businesses like these, we’re advising them to stay visible through their own communication channels and remain on the minds of customers and prospects. Online events are a great idea, even if they are no substitute for the live alternative. Another activity to consider may be easier said than done with so many other stresses and concerns on your mind, but organizing your thoughts into occasional social media, video or blog posts may be therapeutic, as well as helpful to organizing wrapping your mind around your business’ return plan.
Smaller businesses may need to adapt and become something different when you re-emerge, but stay focused on returning. Get creative, rediscover that passion … this crisis doesn’t change the fact that you’re an entrepreneur and survival is in your DNA.
As many of you know, we have several healthcare clients, as well. I mentioned above how thankful we are for the front-line caregivers, and we’ve also been unsurprisingly impressed with our client colleagues in the digital and communications departments. Michigan communities are getting concise and transparent information from their healthcare organizations, about an ever-changing medical crisis that can otherwise be frightening and confusing. We’ve been proud to simply have the opportunity to be called upon here and pulled in there to help support these monumental efforts for some of the best of those organizations. We’re also glad to see some of the digital communication platforms we’ve built get called into a new level of service to inform the community.
These clients have truly risen to the moment and were well prepared (even for this), so our only advice to them has been to keep up the awesome work, while proactively sharing creative ideas and keeping technical platforms running smoothly. Simple, direct, transparent and clear communications are such an important resource to communities that are stressed, scared, and otherwise confused by the barrage of information overload and noise they’re receiving from elsewhere.
A third category consists of midsize and large companies who have been, for the most part, weathering the storm over the past month, aside from adjusting to their significant transitions to a remote workforce. One impact on the sales and marketing front has been — and will continue to be — travel restrictions and trade event cancellations. We’re working with some of these clients — and would advise any business that falls into this category — to develop alternate strategies for using digital communications and channels to demonstrate their products and services, from videos and explainer animations to mobile apps and “virtual” showrooms. This crisis won’t be an extinction-level event for trade shows, but they may never be the same, so there’s no better time than now to plan alternative strategies to trade shows, conferences, and seminars. We recommend thinking outside the box of Zoom events and webinars to really stand out.
Redrawing the maps
I will expand on some of the thoughts above, as they relate to what lies ahead of us in the coming year as the “new normal,” in some upcoming blog posts. In January we all held our own maps to navigate the landscape that lay ahead of us in 2020. Now that landscape has drastically changed, and those maps suddenly would get us lost. We need to quickly and decisively understand the new landscape, and draw new maps. As expert digital strategists, communicators, designers, developers and marketers, that’s what Elexicon does, has done before, and will be here to do it again: Understand new landscapes of business opportunities, and draw new maps to find them, together.
Stay safe, everyone,