It is tragically funny how naïve we were a year ago. Kids will be out of school for a couple of weeks; I will wear this homemade mask; we will all work from home for a while; they surely won’t cancel my cruise/concert/the Olympics! And business? Yeah, this will be a hit to bars, restaurants, spring events, and entertainment. But these cancellations are short term, right? Yes, we were naïve.
In working with my media customers, it is hard to pull year-to-year reports and look at pacing numbers. Because this, right now, was the time when the cancellations became more broad and more long term. Restaurants had not yet figured out how to survive on carryout only. Laws in many states and localities had not yet been modified to allow for carry out adult beverages. No one wanted to be near anyone’s sweat, so fitness centers stayed closed. Theme parks and travel destinations kept pushing back their closing dates a year ago, until they close indefinitely. And concerts and trade show events were gone in an instant. So with that, it became incredibly difficult to predict advertising revenue now and into the future. That makes it hard right now as the road map to predicting this year was burned like the map in the opening of Bonanza (and old school reference there, to be sure!).
As the past year progressed, we experienced something quite like the stages of grief – disbelief, denial, acceptance, depression, and finally, hope. There have been setbacks and ups and downs. Some have enjoyed working from home and adapted very well (it didn’t hurt having online CRMs and other tools to help!) and some struggled with the lack of socialization. In our experiences here at ShareBuilders, there were mood swings, as nearly everyone experienced bouts of depression every now and then. There was temporary financial hope as the November elections were heated and resulted in high spending levels. The limited return of sporting events also gave a boost. But it has been the roll out of the vaccine that has resulted in more relaxed requirements and increases in car sales, home improvements, and other industries while many restaurants and small businesses learned the art of on-line purchasing and curbside delivery.
So the big question is – NOW WHAT?
Will more stations return to working from a central building? Have some employees mastered using their CRM and Pricing tools through mobile apps and online? Do customers even want to meet in-person? How do we show the love to our Key Customers when there are no tickets, and in person lunches are still uncomfortable? Will the concert/club/event business return and if so, at what level? And what about the travel industry – will there be vacations and will advertising come back with them?
The answer is: Who knows. This last 12 months has been a year of unanticipated and unpredictable surprises (note: I refuse to every use the word “unprecedented!”). But perhaps we have learned how to roll with the punches – how to adapt to new ways of learning and selling, and new tools to help. Perhaps we have looked down different avenues to find advertising revenue. Perhaps we have become more flexible and creative in coming up with new ideas to help businesses. Perhaps we will learn how to adjust our pricing to put more value on areas that have moved into the demand spotlight.
So, congratulations for making it through this last year. There will continue to be bumps, but here’s to making a new roadmap to replace what has been so badly charred.