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School Phase

It’s an understatement to say this year feels a little different than others. At a time when we’d normally be back-to-school shopping, gearing up for autumnal promotions, and strategizing for 2021, many of us are still teetering on the brink of uncertainty, unable or unwilling to make any big moves. Since a lot of folks have been in some form of lockdown since early spring, we’ve found ways to adapt so that life still bears some semblance of normalcy. Whether that’s maintaining a home fitness routine, taking online classes, or showering and getting dressed for the office every morning (even if your office is in the next room), we’ve kept life moving as much as we’re able.

After one of the most challenging years many of us have ever seen, it’s now (hopefully) safe to invest in ourselves and our business. As we wrote a couple months ago, there are concrete steps you can take to keep things moving or to reinvent aspects of your business that don’t apply in the current climate. A lot of recent changes to business models are customer-facing (of course), highly visible moves that cater to a company’s biggest asset, and the one that determines its survival. But what about the moves customers don’t see? There’s a lot that can be done behind the scenes to ensure your business keeps up its momentum as we slide into fall.

Back to class

Whether kids are headed back to school full-time, part-time, or continuing to learn from home, educators are doing their darndest to stay on a normal schedule. You, too, can ride the wave of composition notebooks into courses (online!) that’ll give you an edge on the competition. Feel like you’re out of your league when it comes to social media for business? There’s a class for that. Heard of a software program that would be a lifesaver for your business, but too overwhelmed by the nuts and bolts to purchase it? There’s a class for that too. Having even a beginner’s knowledge of certain strategies and software can instill confidence in your client base—invest in improving their user experience so they can invest in you.

Cite your sources

Paying attention to the work of someone you admire isn’t being a copycat—unless you’re literally stealing glances at their test paper. If you see someone in your industry doing something you wish you could, speak up! This is where a marketing consultant or agency can come in handy. We’re in a blank slate moment, so to speak, where companies across the board are coming up with new and hitherto-unexplored tactics in response to major setbacks; you may have seen someone do something you wish you’d thought of first. No doubt a marketing team will ask you, in the process of gathering your info, who you look up to in your industry. They’ll help you craft a unique plan that embodies those qualities you admire in another brand, without making you into an outright carbon copy.

Bonus points

Teachers have known for years that the number one incentive for students to work extra hard is junk food. Sure, good grades can get you into college, but who doesn’t love a pizza party? The point is, sometimes hard work can feel fruitless if there’s no tangible reward in sight. When, as a business owner, you’re the teacher, the student, and the janitor all rolled into one, the daily grind can feel like a hamster wheel of frustration. Take some of the pressure off by setting small goals and rewarding yourself and your staff. Want to grow your customer base by the end of September? Pledge an Employees’ Day Off for a 3% increase (or whatever feels attainable). Want your entire team up-to-date on your industry so they can best guide clients? Pledge holiday bonuses (or other appropriate incentive) if everyone can pass a relevant employee exam. Investing in employee satisfaction and engagement can translate to client trust and preference.

Extra help

There’s no shame in asking for a little help. Just like in your school days, your daily workload can become a bit much sometimes, and your performance can suffer because of it. Luckily, help is there when you need it! Hiring an outside marketing team can take some of the pressure off you (we know you’re capable of doing it all, but think quality over quantity). A marketing agency has the advantage of an outsider’s perspective, and may be able to better spot what’s not working and where your marketing strategy could use a helping hand. This could be as simple as zhuzhing up your website’s SEO, or as major as a rebrand (don’t worry, they’re professionals). Acknowledge and focus on your strengths, admit where you could use some help, and we’ll see you after class.

While much of the world may feel flipped upside down, there is great comfort in constants. The end of summer brings with it the excitement of new shoes, unsharpened pencils, and lunchroom gossip—some or all of which might be out of the question this year. But if you take action by tackling any of the suggestions above, you can bring some of that back-to-school buzz to your business. There’s the bell!

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