The COVID-19 health emergency is impacting businesses all over the world, and the event industry is being especially hard-hit. I’ve been getting a lot of questions from friends and fellow event professionals about the best way to respond to all the uncertainty. The fact is, there is no one-size-fits-all method for navigating difficult situations like this one. However, there are some good, solid business practices that can help guide us all, now and in any downturns to come. Here are some of the approaches I’m taking at EZLD to communicate, problem-solve, and respond proactively in order to protect my business, relationships and clients.
Photo by Jessica Claire Photography
Stay Calm and Embrace Leadership
As a business owner, you are a leader, even if just to a small team or a handful of clients. People look to you for guidance so be aware of the impact your approach can make. You may not have all the answers (none of us do right now) but you can respond to crises calmly and stay focused on making situations better, and not worse.
If you want to help guide other business owners, look around the industry, or around your local area for online discussions, roundtables or webinars you can participate in. Touch base with colleagues to see how they are doing and to brainstorm solutions together. Write a blog post like I’m doing here to share your ideas and help spark the imaginations of others. Post tips that have worked well for you on social media. As entrepreneurs in the event industry, we are all in this together!
I’ll be sharing more blog posts like this one and participating in helpful industry events in the coming weeks. You can stay up-to-date on these event on my Press & Appearances page. First up is the WIPA Webinar: Managing Your Wedding Business in Difficult Times on Friday, March 20th, 10am PT/1pm ET (for WIPA Members Only).
Communicate proactively with your clients to reassure them that you have their backs. Don’t wait for them to get worried and contact you for answers. For events that are coming up soon, reach out directly with clear options. For events many months out, send an email explaining what your business is doing in the face of this crisis. Your clients have hired you to be an expert in an arena that’s probably unknown to them. Don’t assume they will know what plans B, C or D would look like for their wedding or event. You truly are the expert here, so be generous with your communication and guidance.
You may have some difficult business decisions to make in the next days and weeks. Regardless of WHAT you do, HOW you do it matters. Be sure you’re practicing compassion for your clients as well as for yourself when weighing your options.
For your clients, planning weddings and special events is an emotional process, so facing the possibility of canceling or postponing such a momentous occasion is sure to be stressful. Helping them through the process with empathy will go a long way in building and maintaining your relationship.
Looking out for the health of your business is vitally important too. Get creative with how you handle customer service, deposits and rebooking. Look for areas where you can be flexible and generous with your clients, while helping your business to function smoothly.
Encourage Rescheduling Instead of Canceling
Hopefully, life will get back to normal in the coming months and we will all get back to celebrating special milestones with beautiful, meaningful events. If you have events in the next few weeks that cannot take place, try to encourage rescheduling instead of canceling. Collaborate with your clients to find a date that works for as many vendors as possible. Rescheduling is a win-win for everyone as it gives your clients the celebration they have been dreaming of, and allows all the creatives involved to continue working and earning their much needed income.
Pause Scheduled Social Media Posts or Email Campaigns
Scheduling marketing emails or social media posts in advance is a great timesaver for your workflow, but in moments like these, posts that sounded great 3 weeks ago can sound tone-deaf, insensitive or simply irrelevant today. Be sure to review any content you have scheduled to go out, and ask yourself if now is still the right time. You may want to pause and save that content for later, or simply change the wording a bit to be sure your messaging comes across clearly.
For example, I’m currently promoting my newly launched online Masterclass, but I paused the email campaigns that were scheduled to send because there are more important things to communicate about right now – like these business discussions! That doesn’t mean my course couldn’t be the perfect resource for someone during this downtime, but I’m being extra thoughtful about how, when and where I promote it.
Take good care of yourselves, and be sure to connect with me on Instagram where I share behind-the-scenes business experiences and answer a lot of questions. I would love to hear from you and learn what you are doing to support your business and clients during this time.