Overcoming Six Feet of Separation

We are all relational beings and as we weather this storm together, here are six tips we can remain authentic as a brand while staying “six feet apart” from our customers:

  1. What are you in the business of ‘selling’?
    • There is no better time than now to reflect on the ultimate purpose for your company’s existence. While products / services are the tangible goods that generate revenue for your business, your company should stand for more than that. 
    • What is your vision (ie. what impact your company hope to have in the society; the ‘some day’) and your mission (ie. what you are doing today’ to achieve the ‘some day’)? 
  2. Do you have a plan?
    • Budget Plan. Do you know your reserves? Are there any alternative sources of revenue? How are you taking advantage of the SBA Disaster Relief Assistance? Check this link for resources.
    • Communication Plan. How do you continue to stay relevant and connected with your staff and customers whether you are closed temporarily or operating as normal? 
  3. Your best brand advocate.
    • If you have a team of staff, they are the people you need to communicate your plans with on a daily basis. Are you getting them involved in some problem-solving decisions? How do you care for their welfare beyond cutting them a paycheck (if you are even able to do that)?
    • If you are a solopreneur, your family and your trusted friends are your support system. Don’t weather your business challenges by yourself.
  4. Your next best brand advocate.
    • If you are an essential business, how are you communicating with your customers beyond a business transaction? Do they know how you are caring for your employees? Do they know how you are keeping them safe if they need to interact with you (and your staff) face-to-face?
    • If you are not a non-essential business, are you keeping in touch with your customers via the website, social media channels, emails, phone call, or even a card? This is where you need a Communication Plan.
  5. Be Real.
    • Your staff and customers relate to you as a person, not as a company. Are you taking the opportunity to share your vision and mission for starting this business to begin with? 
    • Be real (not defeated) about how the current situation is affecting you. Authenticity will allow you to build rapport and improve the quality of your communication.
    • Learn about defining a Personal Brand, a section in my upcoming book titled “One Game Changer to Boost your Business“. 
  6. Be Aware.
    • Empathize and acknowledge the challenges your staff and customers are facing.
    • Identify their needs (eg. bored, fear of getting infected, lonely/isolated, reduced income, etc.) and consider how you can meet that need. 
    • DO NOT exploit the fear of people to make money. 

Into the Middle of the World

I would never have known that when I was born in Singapore, Ecuador is directly under my naked bottom on the other side of the world. While there’s no practical reason for that piece of information known as antipodes, it makes for a good opener to this post, right?

World map showing location of Ecuador and Singapore

Now that you are back after having fun searching for other antipodes of countries you know, let’s get back to Ecuador and the connection I have with this country known as the Republic of the Equator (a literal translation from the Spanish name, República del Ecuador).

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My Affair with a Grocer

In 2017, I stepped into a Trader Joe’s for the first time as a friend and I loaded up on some road trip -type food for our 14-day adventure through the country of Mexico.

I was immediately intrigued by how different this grocer is. It goes beyond their highly addictive peanut butter pretzels, colorful hand-drawn signage, and the bell-ringing at the checkout lanes.

Visiting Trader Joe's in Oklahoma City
Before heading south towards Mexico, we decided to take a picture in front of Trader Joe’s, excited about our purchase of bread, canned smoked herring, peanut butter pretzels, trail mix, etc. for the road-trip.

There’s something about their staff Trader Joe’s call Crew Members. Besides wearing Hawaiian shirts or colorful tees with hibiscus motif, these people seem genuinely happy to be working there.

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Let’s Get Emotional

When one thinks about a company or business, all things visible (eg. logo, billboard, print advertisement) and tangible (eg. product, store-front) tend to be the first image that comes to mind. That’s a typical response of a consumer.

Wearing your consumer hat

But as a consumer of goods and services bombarded by countless “buy me” or “use me” messages whenever we are online or out on the road, the appeal of a product and/or service often goes beyond meeting a functional need and is associated with an emotion.

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It Started with a Bunch of Bananas

Small chalkboard signs promoting 19 cents bananas at Trader Joe's.

Take a picture of these,” said a fellow crew member after I put up my first two-sided chalkboard sign I drew for a banana tree at Trader Joe’s Oklahoma City.

Looking back, I do appreciate the advice as the side that says “We’re a Happy Bunch” pretty much summarizes my sentiment having been part of this grocery chain.

Here’s a sampling of the various signs I have the privilege of creating by hand; some of which are permanent while others are a figment of my memory (but thankfully captured on camera).

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What’s the Buzz?

The conversation happening on various social media channels is a form of word-of-mouth that cannot be ignored. However, that doesn’t mean that a business needs to have every social media account there is to engage in those conversations.

Take note that there are conversations happening between people offline, which in most cases may carry more weight than online word-of-mouth. So, how does one effectively manage and cultivate meaningful conversations?

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