It’s hard to imagine how primitive our methods were back in the late 90’s and early 2000’s when all this started to take off, but one of my most favorite solutions to an imminent threat was a solution that we created for The Disney Store Online.

It was early and all manner of shit could, and frequently did, hit the fan.

One day I received a phone call from Disney with instructions that we should immediately shut down the Disney Store Online Affiliate Network that we’d painstakingly built for months. All Affiliates were to be cut off immediately, tens of thousands of vetted websites who’d signed up and had been authorized to sell Disney Store products were to be cut off immediately. Why?

This was back in the day and all kinds of advertisers were trying all kinds of emerging advertising platforms and it seems that an Ad unit of Disney had placed a “run of sites” placement with an early ad platform and a Disney ad appeared on a porno site - yikes!!!. Disney legal ordered that everything be shut down - NOW!

I’d hired a brilliant young intern that summer - a highly recommended kid from the local high school -  a budding programmer. I knew how to solve the problem and this kid knew how to program the solution.

Within, oh, I guess, a week, we’d developed an authentication system that insured that the ads we served were only served to authorized sites. We were authorized to relaunch our system by Disney legal within days. 

I’ve always been proud of this - the thought behind the solution and the ability to program and implement it so quickly. That was cool.

I relate all this today, to the problems being faced by so many businesses during this pandemic, a crisis that in some cases and for some businesses, is an existential threat that might mean and end to the business - or survival if one is swift and creates and deploys effective solutions for business growth in these times.

Back in about 1993 or 1994, when I first discovered this World Wide Web I saw it as being a platform for incredible innovation and recognized the Internet to be the growth machine that it’s turned out to be. And while the Corona Virus certainly represents a new and existential threat to ourselves and society, I believe that this crisis offers us enormous, and I do mean enormous, opportunities. 

It’s going to be, I think, many years before “brick and mortar” businesses are able to return to anything resembling normalcy. This Covid 19 disease (and the financial disaster it has caused) is the catalyst that will drive more and more consumers online and provide vast new markets for businesses of all sizes and types. If customers don’t absolutely need to receive services face-to-face, they are going to do it online.

Last year I walked into a local brokers office to buy car insurance, this month I did it online. Think about that. I never considered going into that insurance office, period. No way, no how (and there’s no way I’m going to go into a mall, probably ever again, at my age, it’s just too risky).

So, here’s the deal. Stop focusing on the crisis and think hard about alternative ways to reach your customers. They’re online and if your business isn’t, or if online has been a secondary strategy, it’s time to amp up your game and look for the silver lining in this otherwise cloudy sky. Look for the silver lining -  the solution to your problem is there, you just have to find it. And when you do, I think you can expect business growth beyond your wildest expectations! Good luck to that!!!