Like you, I’ve heard from nearly every one of my clients during the past few days. This was complicated by the fact that I was meeting with a series of clients in Vancouver during that time. In fact, I write this to you from the Vancouver airport, Gate E-86. 🙂
My private opinion is that we reached “peak panic” on Wednesday of this week. Everyone is cancelling events, flights, sports seasons, amusement parks, and is working from home. Again, my private opinion is that people will begin to poke their heads up out of their prairie dog holes in about 3 weeks. Until then, it will be bare grocery shelves and enormous media consumption. People will be watching television news, yes, but it doesn’t take long before that becomes tediously repetitious. People working from home – and people who go to work and find there is nothing to do, will be listening to the radio. I have no doubt that radio listenership during the average commercial break will be double, triple, possibly quadruple what is typical.
And there will be far fewer ads because all the frightened Chicken Littles will have cancelled their schedules so they might run around shouting “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!”
Do you remember what I told you during the partner meeting in San Antonio? “Our clients need our encouragement more than they need our advice.”
So far, none of my clients in the U.S. or Canada have opted to cancel schedules. One of them said he wanted Devin to renegotiate his buy right now because “the stations will be desperate.” I talked him out of it, pointing out that you cannot recover from going back on your word. I told him, “Whatever gain we might get – and frankly, I don’t expect the stations to move even a little bit – it’s going to cost us dearly at renewal time and at every renewal time thereafter.” He agreed when he realized that renegotiating right now would be predatory.
Every client has asked if we should make a coronavirus-themed ad. I have talked all of them out of it by reminding them that what people hunger for most right now is a glimpse of normalcy. They are looking for familiarity, a smile, optimism. “We do not win by running with the herd. We win by taking the road less travelled.”
I said that “peak panic” will probably begin to subside in about 3 weeks and people will begin to act more rationally, but the economy will definitely be screwed-up for awhile. People will be frightened. But there will never be a better time for courageous business owners to gain market share. I saw this in 2008 during the mortgage meltdown. My clients held strong, didn’t cancel their schedules, and were richly rewarded for it when the economy recovered.
As I said, these are my private opinions based on no data other than my professional observations during the past 40 years. But you are free to share this email, in part or in whole, if you think it might be helpful.
We’ll come through this.
Be the encouragement your clients need.