So here we go, just like a Delorean with 1.21 gigawatts of power -- into the future. BC and AC now have new meanings; Before and After Covid 19. And no one, absolutely no one, knows anything about what our future looks like. This is brand new territory. 

I’m going to be 73 next month and I haven’t seen anything like this. No event in my lifetime has had anywhere near the long-term effect on societies and economies that this does. Not the Civil Rights Movement that I experienced as a young teenager, not the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and Bobby Kennedy, not the Anti-War Movement of the late ’60s and early ’70s. Not 9/11, not the financial crisis of the early 2000s  - not even close.

This is brand new territory. We are all wondering; how will our world work now?” “How will we shop now?” “How will we sell now?” “What do our supply chains look like now?” “What NEW SKILLS do I need to learn now?”

I was talking to a friend recently who said to me “how sad it is that we have to deal with this in the last phase of our lives”. My response was, “what an interesting time to be alive. I can’t wait to see how this shakes out”. 

And I meant that. “May you live in interesting times”. Indeed!

There is no doubt that the economic pain is widespread and that we’ve not yet seen the worst of that. While only some of us are directly experiencing the virus, all of us are experiencing the economic consequences of the pandemic. We all feel that. And this economic shock that may have long-lasting negative economic consequences. 

Life will go on and we will certainly find a new equilibrium. We will adjust to a “new normal.” We’re human after all—that’s what we do. We adapt

We are entrepreneurial and, as with any crisis, for those with the cash and vision to seek them out and develop them (or with a vision that others will put the cash into!) it is certainly a time of great opportunity. 

I was talking to my daughter who lives in suburban Los Angeles. She was telling me about a new “delivery only” restaurant called “Chris’ Dripin’ Chicken” (memorable, great name, great concept and according to my daughter, great food, brought to the Los Angeles area by Wexler’s Deli, two well-known, high rent locations). 

The problem she was relating to me was an interesting one. It seems that the delivery drivers (you can only order through Uber Eats, DoorDash, PostMates, and Caviar), looking for a restaurant, couldn’t find the newly opened “Ghost Restaurant” and it took too long for the food to get to her. But, I’m pretty sure this won’t be the case for long and I’m also pretty sure that the good folks at Wexler’s “dug deeper in the well” and pulled a new and sustainable rabbit out of the hat.

The drivers couldn’t find the place because it was only a kitchen located in an otherwise nondescript building — not the “location, location, location” type of place they were used to. They were used to picking up at easily found “high visibility” (and high rent) locations. 

While not exactly a brand new idea—a kitchen located in a lower rent off-the-beaten-path location, memorable concept, great food, and an efficient delivery mechanism with online ordering—but it’s a perfect solution for restauranteurs in urban and suburban locations now.

Being the Digital Marketer that I am, I love Wexler’s solution. It combines a great food concept with technology and integrated with a digital component—order online through the delivery platforms ONLY. 

Your customers have new expectations for you. They still want to do business with you, they just want to do it differently. We don’t want to come to you, we want your product, and in many cases, your services, to come to us. 

According to a recent McKinsey article Target, for example, saw comparable-store sales grow by more than 10 percent in the first quarter of 2020, reflecting a 141 percent increase in digital sales, while physical-store sales rose less than 1 percent.” Overall In 2020 Ecommerce is projected to increase by 18% according to eMarketer.Their February forecast projected growth of 2.8%.

The remarkable part of this really impressive online growth is that Target’s same-store-sales still rose 1% on top of all that digital increase. Wow! Does that tell you where your customers are? They’re certainly online and they are asking you to please meet them there with a solution that solves one or more of their new problems.

Thriving in the next normal will require significant changes in business and operating models for all businesses. Technology must be deployed to find efficiencies and new ways to enhance your customer’s experience with you. You’ve got to make yourself really easy to find online. And, once you’ve been found you’ve got to offer an unbeatable value proposition.

This pandemic has changed marketing and the language that we need to use to communicate our ideas. I’ve always liked the idea of “empathy marketing”, and if there was ever a time for it, it’s now. 

You must put yourself in your customer’s shoes - walk a mile in them and think about how you can adapt your business model to satisfy your customer’s new needs, wants, and desires. Think about how you can make it as easy as possible to do business with you.

And look to the potential positive consequences of the pandemic for inspiration. Aside from lower emissions and traffic-free highways, there are don’t forget, the European Black Death of the 14th century was followed by the Renaissance and “The millions of deaths caused by the 1918 Spanish flu and the First World War brought on women’s suffrage and also inaugurated the Roaring Twenties” says Lawrence Wright In a new New Yorker essay.

As I’ve often said to students, I’m a sailor. And a sailor learns to keep one eye just a few feet in front of the boat and one eye on the horizon. That’s what you need to do now. Adjusting to what’s directly in front of you and looking for new opportunities as they emerge.

More to come on this…