• Adam Whittaker

Desperate times, desperate measures…

…not necessarily.

Many people are banding about the ‘business as usual’ mantra. Unfortunately for the large majority of us, this just isn’t and can’t be the case.

Widespread decimation of so many small businesses (and some big ones!) is playing out in front of our very eyes. Personally, my passion for the food and drink sector means I am keeping a close eye on what is going on there. Restaurants and bars have been forced to close and whilst, at the time of writing, there has been no clear directive from the powers that be around forced closure, others are limping from day to day unsure of what the future holds. It’s heartbreaking to see passionate, gifted people seeing all their hard work crumble around them all through no fault of their own.

As with all times of difficulty, the role that marketing plays in all this can be something of a cloudy issue. Understandably, it is easy to concentrate on the logistical and practical issues. Staff, income and in this particular case, the health of you and your staff is paramount. However, apart from necessary updates such as changes to opening times or operating procedures, what else should you be posting and putting out and more importantly – how?

A few things to bear in mind when communicating during such times are based on some sense of normality whilst acknowledging the bigger picture.

Maintain your tone and brand

When there are so many conflicting factors putting pressure on your business and ultimately existence, it can be easy to get swept along by the political and social momentum. Your frustration with the Government, Mother Nature, customers and all those around you can lead to explosive outpourings that you may come to regret. I talk a lot about personality on social media in particular and it is important to stick with it even at the most difficult times.

Likewise the brilliant Gary Usher. Always controversial and superbly potty mouthed he keeps on saying it like it is

Stay visible

It would be easy to hide, pour a large wine and hope it will all pass. As with the current pandemic, you may have to be in it for the long haul. Keep your customers and potential future customers up to date with what you are doing and are planning on doing. Many will want to support you in any way they can so keep them in the loop.

Remember the ‘why’

Paying staff, deciding wether to remain open, looking after your family, staying alive. May sound idealistic and irrelevant to get back to why you set the business up in the first place but it is still relevant and more important than ever. If your dream was to establish a business that would look after the mental health of the most vulnerable in our communities, you can guarantee that they will need you more than ever right now.


Try and keep up to speed with everything that is going on. As ever, one of the best sources of information is good old social media but beware of the fake stuff. Twitter et al are doing their utmost to get rid of misleading and often downright harmful information but of course things will slip through. In times of heightened crisis, legislation will be changing regularly which may not only relate to operational practice but with regard to help with funding, grants and support that may help bail you out

Help others

May feel like it is a bit of PR to help other businesses or the general public but if you are genuinely helping out then so be it. Giving food, supplies or your services to those that need them the most is not only a wonderful thing to do but it also means your talent isn’t going to waste. New collaborations could be born, partnerships developed and it could lead to long term gain for all concerned.

Get ready

Shit happens and no doubt it will happen again. If my NHS days taught me anything it was about alternative plans, the emergency stuff, if it all hits the fan again. Ironically, I haven’t listened to my own advice on this occasion and have lost virtually all of my income overnight. I wasn’t prepared. So if nothing else comes of this, I know where I need to take my business now. It is recoverable (he says hopefully) but not having all your eggs in one basket could make the difference in keeping your business going even if the darkest of times.

As Maya Angelou said, “I can be changed by what happens to me but I refuse to be reduced by it.”

Need any help with your marketing and social media now or in the future – get in touch