You are probably experiencing what upwards of 7 billion humans are also experiencing: fear, uncertainty, confusion, restlessness, and so many more emotions that have passed or are to come. While these feelings are not ideal, the comfort of knowing we are all in the same boat is enough to give anyone that vital glimmer of hope.
It seems that everywhere you turn, wellness and business gurus are throwing tips and tricks to arm your business with the tools it needs to thrive in this newly remote world— for a small price. As a business owner or business professional, this can be tiresome and monotonous.
I know this, and have gone about handling the situation in the best way I know how. Enough of spewing out identical downloadable guides or offering overpriced workshops on how to unmute yourself on Zoom. I decided to sit down with my good friend and content marketing connoisseur, Shane Barker, to have a candid conversation on our webinar “The Corona Effect” about our experiences thus far into what seems like a global pause button. But, in the digital marketing realm, operations are anything from halted or even delayed, and there are ways to grow your business during a pandemic.
While you may be exhausted from hearing about others and their struggles during this time, Shane and I are hoping you can find comfort in our discussion about changes we have made regarding business, marketing, and overall personal lives. We do not want to bombard you with things you have already heard— rather, we too are trying to navigate this strange adjustment period by doing what all humans do, which is supporting and confiding in each other as human beings.
We are breaking up our corona-conversation into three categories: life adjustments, business adjustments, and marketing adjustments.
Adjustments to Personal Lives
Shane Barker, Founder and CEO of Shane Barker Consulting, reflects on the shutdown of non-essential businesses. Like many of us, he is choosing to support his local restaurants deemed unessential by ordering to-go and carry out when he can. But he has his hesitations.
“A month ago, I would never go ‘Hey, who’s in the kitchen and what are they doing and who have they talked to and where have they traveled to’,” Shane says, “I mean, we just did our thing before. Now, we’re going to be more cautious.”
Both Shane and I also travel extensively due to our careers, which means we already take extra measures to ensure health while being exposed to countless germs that surround airports and other public spaces. Shane also explains how he is more aware now than ever of how his sanitation methods are not only affecting him, but the people around him who are more susceptible to complications resulting from exposure to germs and contamination.
Shane also knows what it is like to be close to someone working the front lines of the virus, as his wife is a nurse.
“I hate to say it, but she’s putting her life on the line every time she goes into work. But that’s her job. Nobody told her when she started that there would be this Coronavirus thing she’d have to deal with.”
Many people know at least one person close to them who has been unexpectedly drafted to fight this virus and help our lives run as normally as normal can be. Public health workers, grocery store clerks, drive through workers, repair companies, researchers, and so many more occupations that are quite literally making the world go round.
Along with learning to adjust to the lack of social contact and extreme caution, Shane also found it intriguing how nobody really knows that proper COVID-19 etiquette of navigating grocery stores, “Do I go? Do you go? Did you go? How long have you been there? If I go to grab a mango, I wonder how many people have also touched that mango.”
A fundamental part of my life includes regular visits to the gym, which have been suspended for the time being. Before this, I was always a gym rat. I love the gym, I love the people in the gym. I was pretty much going five times a week. Like many people, me losing access to the gym has been detrimental to my daily routine. The gym is seen as an outlet, stress-reliever, and an escape in many cases, and losing this can take a toll on not only physical health, but mental health.
Shane finds escape through taking daily walks, which he logs on his Instagram account (@shanebarker) and is fortunate to still have the privilege of doing. During these strolls (if you consider 10 miles per day a “stroll”), he makes it a point to clear his mind, take notes on business items, and generate new ideas. Many people are getting creative in the ways they get their daily dose of exercise in, with walking becoming the top contender. And, due to the closure of gyms, I have found myself walking as well, and have found that it acts as a sort of meditation.
I was always the guy who was going to burn up the day and get as much done as I could and I was just super intense. Once I started walking, I started noticing stuff. I think differently, I feel differently, I breathe differently. Making even that small adjustment has already given me a different view of the world.
Many people have been finding themselves almost able to take a step back from life itself and reflect. Shane and I have noticed the biggest adjustments we have made in our personal lives was taking that much needed self-realization period to deconstruct the usual hecticness surrounding their busy lives.
Getting Down to Business
Shane Barker and his team are very fortunate to be veteran remote workers. Despite having two office locations, Shane’s team operates from all over the world. For the office workers, they were given laptops to work from home, utilizing platforms such as Slack, Trello and Zoom to stay efficient.
“We didn’t see a lot of change business-wise in regards to us, but we did see a lot of change when it came to our clients,” says Shane, “A lot of clients had that knee-jerk reaction of wanting to stop all services.”
We both own and grow businesses within the digital marketing space, and have experienced some clients hesitant to stay active due to the global pandemic. From a business perspective, these feelings of uncertainty are totally valid when trying to keep an organization afloat. We have all experienced the terrible reality of thousands of businesses shutting their doors and millions losing their jobs. When faced with these reluctant clients, rather than convincing them to continue with the contract agreement, Shane has been offering help and guidance.
“I’m not trying to get you back on board, I’m going to try and offer you my help, and let’s just think this through. If you totally turn off your marketing, you have to think about how that will affect your business. Rather than going dark, maybe step down to a lower package so there’s still a presence there.”
Shane believes that if anything, now is the time to get ahead. He and his team are completely aware of maybe businesses slowing down their work, and have decided to double up on their content production because of this. He also predicts that many things will be cheaper, such as PPC resulting from the lack of competitors. If you are a business owner experiencing clients shying away from continuing their marketing efforts, the best thing to do is offer direction for business growth during a pandemic, rather than begging them to stay. Social Jack and Shane Barker Consulting have both been very diligent in offering help and advice to those who need it most through mediums such as free webinars and downloadable guides.
“I look at this as a human problem. This isn’t my business and your business— this is what can I do to help you.”
Aside from supporting clients, all of this isolation is the perfect time to strengthen skills and gain new knowledge. Being at home means you can structure your entire day to work for you and your goals. Shane has blocked off time for things such as work, family, reading, walking and learning. Working in a position demanding lots of traveling, this more stagnant lifestyle has opened up more time to spend with family. He describes it as, “a recalibration of ourselves.”
We have been seeing many business owners offering a helping hand within the digital space during this time. I advise that it may help to alter your mindset around tragedy. It is not that you are not working, it is that you are working on your next thing or your next ‘you’. This is the time to take the best parts of yourself and double down on your thought leadership.
Thought leadership is a phrase that is always buzzing around here at the Social Jack office. We define thought leadership as creating and sharing content relevant to your industry that will get you and your brand seen first within the online space. Becoming a strong thought leader has helped thousands of our clients become established digital influencers and see increased ROI, website traffic and SEO visibility.
Many industries and their marketing efforts will obviously be hindered by this crisis; and, many will flourish. Now is the time to use your expertise to your advantage, coming up with innovative ways to transition your industry’s services to thrive in an inevitably digital world.
I think your target audience is more available than what they were. We always are trying to reach thousands of people, but sometimes you just need to reach the next one. Since slowing down, I believe it is important to really connect with people on social media. Pausing, not worrying if we got that 20% more engagement or not, and really building relationships with those right in front of you online.
With business slowing down, it can also be a time to market yourself. If you find yourself in a position where you are losing business or have been laid off, there are many opportunities in the digital marketing world. This is where marketing yourself and your brand comes into play, for freelancing is a great way to hone in on your valuable skills right now.
“You can do a course and don’t need 10,000 people to buy it. You can have a $50 course and have ten people buy it, that’s five grand,” states Shane, “There are ways to make money.”
Aside from building your own personal brand, it is a great time to get your entire team to enhance their technical skills. It is a time to really think about what we can do better and what we can do differently. Maybe we were doing too much and need to focus on one thing and just get great at that one thing.
“This is the first time probably ever that we as a human race are all going through the same thing together. It’s not a race thing, it’s not a politics thing,” preaches Shane.
We are lucky to be immersed in an industry full of technology, connecting, building relationships, and innovation. But, digital marketing and digitalization does not have to be restricted to those who have years of experience under their belt. Confinement to our living rooms has forced us to hunt for creative ways to stay efficient, connected and profitable. This means using technology and digital marketing, even if we lack the experience. Learning together and helping others learn is what Shane and I have been pioneering during this worldwide halt.
At Social Jack, every class we teach, every webinar, every workshop, we always tell our attendees that we all have something to share that someone else doesn’t know and we can help them. Share your knowledge and have them share knowledge back. If we had a culture that did more of that, we would be unstoppable.
We have heard it a million times over the past few months, but this time is all about adjustments, adjustments and more adjustments. You are not alone in navigating your business, marketing efforts, and life through this pandemic, and cannot forget to share and receive knowledge from individuals around you.
Watch the full “The Corona Effect: How to Make a Shift and Lead Your World” webinar here.
Ink Factory creates real-time visual notes during events, meetings and in this case, webinars, drawing detailed illustrations that create a story through animated videos. Here is their finished piece for Dean and Shane’s “The Corona Effect” Webinar that was drawn during their conversation. You can learn more at inkfactorystudio.com.
About Dean DeLisle
As Founder and CEO of Forward Progress, Dean leads his core team to provide digital influencer marketing solutions, serving corporate clients over the past 15 years. In 2012 Dean created and released a Social Influencer Development Platform known as Social Jack. Dean hosts the Influence Factory podcast, where he enjoys exclusive interviews with leading business influencers. His recent book, FIRST, The Street Guide to Digital Business Influence gives the reader proven essential steps and tools to develop thought leadership and recognition in their industry. You can follow Dean on Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.
About Shane Barker
Shane Barker is an instructor for a Personal Branding -Influencer Marketing at UCLA. He has been in the influencer space for over 8 years and has been a keynote speaker at the Influencer Marketing Days Conference, Influencer Marketing Hub, and Influencer Marketing Summit Mexico. Shane was recognized as one of the 100 Most Influential People in Influencer Marketing alongside Kim Kardashian, Gary Vaynerchuk, and legendary PR leaders like the CEO of Edelman. He does 2-day Influencer Marketing Workshops for brands and agencies all over the nation and is a top contributor at INC, Huffington Post, Forbes, Salesforce. You can follow Shane on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn.
About Social Jack
Social Jack™ is a community platform that has successfully helped over 120,000 professionals globally on Influencer Development, Social Selling, Employee Advocacy and B2B Influencer Marketing. Through their educational resources and programs, they help professionals unlock their Influence and distinguish their thought leadership and digital presence. Keep up with Social Jack on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn.