Narrative connections

Pedal Down

Pedal Down

With a great big spoonful of obviousness, it is clear that people are suffering—mentally, physically and economically. While a variety of surveys and data can confirm the level of stress in the country, it is equally as obvious that we don’t need a stupid poll to tell us what we already know. The good news, however, is that stress is usually rooted in worrying about what we cannot control. We just need to focus on the things on which we can have an impact.

It is remarkably frustrating to have no idea what lies ahead. Traditionally, when something catastrophic occurs—a death in the family, a natural disaster, or the loss of a home—there is some finality to it. And while a period of mourning or distress takes place, we understand that we must move forward without those people or things forever. No matter how sad or devastating it may be, we begin the long, hard process of accepting the new realities of our life.

The pandemic does not offer us any definition to our lives ahead. There is no ending in sight and we find ourselves in a state of limbo. In turn, many of us feel paralyzed in our efforts to execute strategies or engage with our respective customer bases. A lack of confidence in what worked pre-COVID, combined with a big dose of fear, makes it difficult to move forward.

There are plenty of prognosticators explaining that the crisis is simply accelerating trends that were already in motion. Despite the fact that long-term predictions are irresistible to many of us, they are usually wrong. At the same time, however, silent hope in the face of adversity, while lacking a clear plan, is simply a recipe for disaster.

Many marketers have gone quiet over the past several months during the outbreak. And regardless of how paralyzed we may feel from the situation, that was a mistake. It has never been more critical to stand up and make yourself visible during these circumstances. The bottom line is that we all are craving escapism and reassurance.

I tend to write stories or blogs that offer a silver lining or a metaphor meant to motivate. But, in a worldwide pandemic, I suspect that customers will tend to reject the overly aspirational content and instead look for the kind of content that demonstrates understanding along with alleviating our collective exasperation. And if you truly know your clients, you realize that they can tell when a brand’s message is forced. Your path through this mess will be cut by talking to people, uncovering their thoughts and sharing stories enthusiastically.

Our desire to explore the world is stronger than our fear. So, take this time to invest in exploration with your customers. Talk to them and listen to what matters to them right now because content plays a significant role in providing the normalcy that we all desire. And while we feel like in-person engagement may be postponed, human connection will never be eliminated. Content, when done thoughtfully, can revitalize both your personal energy and your brand’s voice. So, let go of the lingering effects of fear and remember that a desire for growth is what will accelerate our recovery.

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Mark Potter

Founder / Consultant

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