Astronauts, Altruism and the Economy: Thoughts On Current TimesBy Jonathan English | 11:20 AM on April 22, 2020
Ok, so what do those 3 things have in common? Our MD Jonathan has jotted down his thoughts on the impact of the current times we're in.
Keep On Moving
On this day (April 22 1971) the Apollo 16 astronauts John Young & Charles Duke, took the lunar rover for a joy ride across the moon’s surface. Apollo 16 was the penultimate mission of a space programme that had over the course of decade built on courageous cumulative gains. It inspired a generation to shoot for the moon and taught the importance of perseverance and resilience when aspiring for a lofty goal. In spite of deadly setbacks, the programme kept on moving, identifying, exploring and solving problems as they went.
Being reminded of this drive to keep on moving forward took me back 15 years. To the time I was reading for a Masters in Entrepreneurship. Our reading list included a book called Keep on Moving!, full of strategies and tactics to help entrepreneurs become more effective problem solvers.
COVID 19 has certainly given us numerous problems to solve and new challenges to overcome.
The Times They Are A-Changin'
In the face of these challenges, people, families and businesses have kept on moving, adapting and modifying their lives to accommodate this transient new way of being. Albeit it mostly from the confines of their own homes or their invisible social distancing bubble.
We now all instinctively wear our social distancing bubbles when we leave our homes. I have to keep reassuring my chocolate labrador, Bruin, that he is still just as adorable, as people cross the road and give us a wide birth rather than give him the usual fuss.
Pre COVID, I imagine most people wouldn’t have been able to accurately plot a two-meter distance on the floor. Post COVID I imagine most will. Spacial awareness as a skill is winning. Hell, even digital stores are implementing it!
It has also felt at times like a war-time effort. A collective sense of identity has galvanised the population to work together against this invisible viral enemy.
They haven’t needed ‘your country needs you’ ads. A single request from the Prime Minister for volunteers to virtually step forward and support the NHS, resulted in 750,000 applications in just days.
The now national treasure, Captain Tom Moore reached his goal of walking 100 laps of his garden before celebrating his centenary. He also smashed his NHS fundraising target of £1000, pulling in a cool £27.3M from more than 1.3M people (and counting).
Pivot, Pivot, Pivot!
Titans of industry have been switching from making vacuum cleaners to ventilators and from fashionable trench coats to hospital gowns.
Tech companies have used their skill-set to solve problems introduced by the COVID lock-down. Adam Roberts the CEO of GoDine.co.uk a restaurant booking service hasn’t stood still when it clearly he could have done. He collaborated with other entrepreneurs and spun up a wonderfully altruistic not-for-profit entity called Open Kitchens (OK). The problem; vulnerable people across the UK are in need of cooked meals and the infrastructure to support them is overwhelmed. The solution; use technology to enable the public to fund meals through donations and safely reopen kitchens with their staff as volunteers to make and distribute them. This wonderful crowdsourced solution to an acute problem is on a mission to deliver 100,000 meals for just £1.85 each. If you need to itch your altruistic gene you can do so by donating to the OK cause here)
SMEs have been 3D printing components for PPE. Thanks to our caring and considerate Andy Young Skeleton’s very own 3D printer has contributed in a small way to the cause.
How It's Affecting The Skeleton Crew
In the shadow of these headline-grabbing stories, millions of businesses have had to figure out how to run their businesses remotely and keep the wheels moving. The team of 13 video specialists that make up Skeleton, our video content agency, transitioned fairly painlessly to this new way of working.
We took the decision to introduce a work from home policy shortly after 5 pm on Monday the 16th of March.
Fortunately for us, we have been running Skeleton on cloud-based software for more than 10 years. We didn’t have to rush or panic to set up new technology to facilitate working from home. Zoom virtual backgrounds are old hat to us, but its great to see people having some lighthearted fun with them during these somewhat dark times!
The only new process we have had to introduce was a call handling service so that we could efficiently forward all of the calls that come into the Skeleton hotline. We went with Moneypenny.com and they certainly haven’t disappointed, professionally answered calls that are seamlessly transferred. Don’t take my word for it. Give it a try, call the Skeleton hotline on 08450037720 ask for me and we can have a virtual brew and bit of a natter.
Remember Work/Life Balance?
As I write this, 5.5 weeks have passed since we took the decision to operate Skeleton from our respective homes. Each week has brought us new sets of challenges to solve and important decisions to make. One of the most important is to only make decisions when they have to be made. Decision fatigue is a real thing after all. I think this strategy has played a key role in preserving my sanity!
Whilst our established technology stack had our back, we have had to get accustomed to exclusively working with each other virtually rather than physically. Long gone are the informal chats around the coffee machine or an impromptu creative critique around someone’s desk. Now, we ‘drop-in’ on each other’s home offices using Google Hangouts. I know most of us are in mourning for that authentic face time.
One man's loss is another man's gain. In my case, I have gained constant contact with my family. The upside of seeing the smiles on everyone’s faces when my kids help me do a Robert Kelly far outweighs the loss of productivity!
COVID 19 has temporarily taken our freedom and sadly taken thousands of peoples lives. Unfortunately, it has so much more to give. The chronic symptom of this virus is the economic one. It’s already baked in. It just hasn’t fully risen to the surface just yet.
Fortune Favours The Brave
The global economic shock is going to be enormous and it is just getting started. Some say it will be the biggest recession since the 1929 crash. HM Treasury and the Bank of England have used the biggest weapons in their arsenal to keep the economy firing. Simultaneously slashing the base interest rate and introducing unprecedented financial packages to save businesses. Billions of pounds will be dished out as business loans and grants to keep businesses moving and employees employed. The undoing of 10 years of austerity within months. Millions of businesses have had the word ‘furlough’ thrust into their active vocabulary and that of their employees for that matter.
In spite of these quick actions from the government, 800,000 businesses are forecast to go bust in the next few weeks. Surely more will follow as this recession washes over the UK and the global economy.
The first rule of business is ‘don’t go bust’. With that said, fortune favours the brave, and businesses and brands that aren’t taken out by this paradigm shift in economic conditions should definitely keep on moving. Easier said than done you might think. If you can muster the strength, being bold and brave with the marketing of your business during tough times will pay asymmetric returns when the world bounces back.
This isn’t just my opinion, recently there has been a flurry of articles published discussing the benefits of maintaining or even increasing advertising spend during a recession.
As many brands cut back on their spending, effectively slamming the brakes on their micro-economic engine, brands that maintain their marketing spend will see an increase in their share of voice and in turn their market share. This subject is covered in the excellent webinar from Marketing Week’s Mark Ritson. Another good shout is The power of digital advertising through economic uncertainty a well-researched blog post from Aaron Dicks, the MD at digital agency Impression.
If you are interested in how video can help your brand seize the day and grow your share of voice you should attend our free webinar happening this Friday 24 April. It’s full of video content strategies and tactics that you can steal for your brand’s world domination plans.
In the meantime, Just like Captain Tom we will keep on moving and continue to help businesses and brands do the same. With courage, kindness and a little bit of storytelling magic!
Over and out,