Mutual Aid in a Time of Crisis
I have been intrigued as I watched the first response of business to the current crisis through the instant communication of social media.
For some, initial denial (a promise of Business as Usual) proves only a prelude to successive, incremental reductions in service (this has been my experience with the Eurostar website). For others, there is rapid capitulation (Closed until Further Notice) without further communication. Both responses are understandable but, I suggest, misguided and can cause long term brand damage.
Two other approaches show some promise but can put your brand at risk. One business leader I have worked with for a couple of years has decided on a fire sale. He is promoting his existing product at a massive discount for a limited period. He has a trusted brand and high personal name recognition. In a week, he generated $200,000 sales of digital product to an existing customer base of 12,000 and a mailing list of 70,000. A similar approach, is to sell a product previously experienced in-person as a free on-line experience. The risk is that you cannibalise your future sales or devalue the in person experience for the future. E2Exchange, for example, are replacing their traditional in person networking plus speaker experience with an on-line speaker offer.
However, I believe the most powerful response is open handed generosity where you act as a catalyst to mobilise as many of your stakeholders as possible to co-ordinate response of mutual aid. Take the example of LEON whose slogan is Naturally Fast Food. They engaged their customers, staff and suppliers and most importantly their competitors(!) to ‘Feed NHS’. This dominates the front page of the website with a ‘click to donate’ banner. The target of £1m has already (29th March) mobilised 11,000 supporters giving an average of £40 each and the list of 13 competitors participating is headed by Wasabi. They promise any profits will be donated to the NHS and some LEON staff are working 20 hour shifts.
In our own small way, we have realised that our community of SME CEOs, speakers and group facilitators at the CEO Growth Academy should be mobilised to supply crucial support and a rapid response to the challenges of the coming weeks and months. We have opened our 8 o’clock Zoom Room to any CEO who wants support from peers and the expert panel drawn from our speaker community. Time and resources are free and no selling is permitted.
How could you be a catalyst for your business community to release the power of generosity. How can you engage mutual aid for all the stakeholders in your sphere of influence? How could you freely give access to your competitors to multiply the impact?
In crisis, when the old rules don’t apply, you can make the new rules.
Charles is founder of FuturePerfect and launched the CEO Growth – Rapid Response Team for SMEs immediately prior to the lockdown http://www.rapidresponseteam.biz/
Image: David Baron