The bright side of COVID and the rare opportunities

We're in this together image of two hands bumping fists and wearing gloves

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“Hey buddy, we’re not doing good. I’ve had to let 7 employees go and if we can’t reopen in the next 30 days, we’ll never re-open” my client said in a somber tone.

In that moment, something changed.

The affects of COVID for us (up till that point anyway) had been distant and largely not affecting my ad agency. And actually, his suffering didn’t affect us either — technically.

He owned a restaurant and we built his website many many years ago — maybe 7. We supported the site, providing maintenance, security, updates and hosting but that ‘account’ was pretty much just passing through actual cost.

But during that conversation, I realized, it did affect us — not financially but in a more significant way.

Watching someone else suffer and not having any ability to fix it is hard. When my daughter is sad because her friends are mean to her at school, I can’t do anything about that and it’s sad. Or when a close friend got the news that his brother had been found — by a helicopter after falling off a mountain, there’s nothing I can do to make that better.

I hear people throw around, “we’re in this together.” For the most part, I felt that was a superficial statement. People say that, but looking around, most people aren’t acting that way. In the rare occasion that a CEO pauses his salary or a company diverts their profits. But, for the average person, I didn’t see many people making it any better for someone else. Maybe it’s just that people don’t recognize the opportunities. Maybe the real opportunities to make a difference are rare. I don’t know. But this clear as day.

This was one of those rare situations when you actually get the opportunity to make it better.

And that’s what we do isn’t it, as an agency or a creative/marketer/developer/etc. — or at least, if we don’t lose sight of it. Every client that we interact with is ultimately asking us to make it better. But it’s not everyday that making it better keeps people’s jobs or keeps a business owner from going under.

(Off-topic, related but clarifying and inspirational story:)

I’m going to sidetrack here but you’ll appreciate the story and I’ll make it short. About 10 years ago, my wife and I lived across the street from a single woman with two kids ages five and ten — boy and a girl. Christmas Day came and that afternoon, their kids came over to our house, like they often did. “Santa didn’t visit us this year” the girl said. Our eyes got big and looked at each other. It wasn’t a functional home :(. Long story short… we ran to Target, bought burlap sacks, painted their names on the front and filled them with toys. We returned home and told the neighbor kids that Santa’s packages were stuck in our chimney. “He must have put them in the wrong house.” Their mom cried and thanked us and you know how that ends. But the point is…

We didn’t do anything amazing that day. We were just faced with an amazing opportunity.

It’s very rare that I get these kind of opportunities.

When I had that call, this was one of them and it hit me in the middle of his statement.

“Here’s what we’re gonna do…” I went from friend to consultant.

They never offered carryout and his perception was that he didn’t have a big enough following to offer carryout. But, we created a campaign of awareness to promote their new carryout service and it was a smashing hit!

About 6 weeks later, we were talking and he said,

“The governor said he was doing a soft opening of the State which includes restaurants with spaced out seating.” And I said, that’s awesome. But he said, “Yeah, that’s good. But what you’ve done for us is working so well for carryout that we’ve been busy enough to not be forced to open back up. And, I’d rather wait a couple of weeks to see if opening causes problems for other restaurants before we decide to do that.”

He said, “keep doing what you’re doing brother!”

I think in a way, it’s the element of helping every client that makes me love what I do. But it’s these situations that I live for!

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