Speaking from experience, a week after Covid-19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO), Mahal and I stopped our Tuscany Highlands business. The halt per se wasn’t as abrupt, but, day by day, we just found ourselves not working on the business. It started when our farm people told us that the most recent consignments of fresh oyster mushrooms at various stores in Claveria were being returned because no tourists and customers were visiting Claveria and no one was buying. The shops where we were consigning are located on tourist spots and along the highway where local and foreign tourists usually visit and drive by. With everyone being asked to stay at home, there were no more customers visiting these shops. So all fresh oyster mushroom harvests were sent back to the farm to be dried and stored for future use instead.
Then the sale of our mushroom products like MUSIGA (Mushroom Sili Garlic Paste), PALAMI (mushroom Palapa), Mushroom POLVORON and Mushroom CHIPS stopped as well. Despite our efforts to market, no sales were coming in.
Then our Mushroom Hands-On Cultivation Training was put on hold indefinitely for fear of spreading the coronavirus.
So one day, we just stopped our business from running and concentrated on surviving this pandemic as a family. We have our savings, extra food and other supplies, plus I still have a little bit of income coming from my online work so we’re still okay.
But do small businesses really have to stop marketing? Do we really have to completely stop doing business? Is it being tone-deaf or inconsiderate to continue selling stuff at this time when no one seems to be buying non-essential stuff?
DO NOT STOP MARKETING
The truth is, there is no better time to market and sell than NOW. Just do it with love, compassion, and care. Otherwise, if all businesses stop, national and / or global recession won’t be far behind. To quote one of my favorite virtual mentors, Marie Forleo:
“We need each other. Every act of kindness and contribution matters. Business owners and consumers have an important role to play in the healing of our world. We need everyone to do their part socially, spiritually, physically, and economically. This is an enormous opportunity to create hope from our collective hurt. As business owners, this is our chance to step up and become more caring, more generous, and more creative.”
IT’S OKAY TO TAKE A MENTAL AND EMOTIONAL BREAK
Business owners are people too. Mahal and I stopped doing business because we were engulfed with worry, stress, and anxiety. We did have plans on how to do business during this time of Pandemic, but my anxiety attacks in particular got the best of me. Emotional stress sucked my energy dry that all I could do was SURVIVE like what I mentioned on my previous blog post. I just worked on my existing client tasks, mothered Tuz, did house chores, REPEAT. That’s it! I no longer had the energy to act as the CMO and Co-owner of Tuscany Highlands because of too much worry and anxiety. I also stopped everything about Training Workshops CDO. My energy and creativity were being drained from all the Covid-19 news I was reading and devouring. And here’s how I was able to fight and overcome it: COVID-19: HOW IT’S AFFECTING MY MENTAL AND EMOTIONAL HEALTH
So now that I am able to overcome these emotional stresses (thank God!), my energy levels are activating and my creativity is once again kicking in, and slowly, I am back to doing marketing tasks for Tuscany Highlands. Just so you know, this is actually a voluntary job. I am not being paid by Mahal to act as his Chief Marketing Officer. I do it out of love for him and his business. Tuscany Highlands is his business and I am just here to help and support him in whatever way I can… in this instance, as his Chief Marketing Officer because that’s what I do best while he serves as the Head of Production, Research, Processing, and Logistics.
Part of this creativity that I am contributing to the business is my long overdue idea of having an online arm for our training. I’ve suggested this to him last year, that we need to go online for our training and other info products that we are selling. He kept putting it off because he was busy with hands-on farm stuff. But now that we are given this time to self-quarantine, my ideas are finally coming into fruition.
Prior to my nervous breakdown, Mahal was filming videos on mushroom cultivation which will comprise the online training course we want to offer to our online trainees.
I was tasked to do the video editing, uploading and the management of our private Facebook Group Page solely intended for our paid trainees. But because of my anxiety attacks, and eventually my nervous breakdown the other day, I wasn’t able to fulfill my self-imposed responsibilities. Now that I feel better, I will be resuming finishing those tasks this weekend and hopefully, sometime next week, our online course will be live, up and running. We already have about 20 paid trainees and we thank them for their patience. Just give me a little more time and the best online mushroom cultivation training will soon be live on our private Facebook page. My plan is to repeat this process to the other training I was marketing for Training Workshops CDO but were put on hold because of Covid-19.
Here’s a little teaser about it:
Watch out for the resumption of our promo ads this coming week.
OTHER USEFUL MARKETING TIPS
For other small business owners who are thinking about how they can resume or continue to market at this time, here are some tips I got from listening to Marie Forleo’s podcast. I’ll summarize it below. These are not exhaustive and if you have other tips, please do share:
1. Do a Buy 1 Give 1 promo
2. Sell and then donate a portion of the proceeds
3. Sell and then offer scholarships
4. Sell, collect tips, and give those tips away to deserving folks
5. Offer generous payment plans or put payments on temporary pause
You might have already seen these marketing strategies being done by other companies. For example, payment on rent and electricity are put on hold and 6-month payment terms are being put into effect. For us at Tuscany Highlands, we will be doing #1 first. For every person who will enroll in our online training program, they can enroll someone else they know for free! This means for the price of one, two can join the training. I will announce this on our Facebook page next week when the course is up and running.
The other tips, we can apply to our products. We are just having a hard time producing right now because our bottle suppliers have closed shop. Perhaps, we can apply these other tips when our suppliers are back doing business again.
So anyway, those are some tips. To get the complete details, you can listen to the whole podcast here: https://youtu.be/l_D7SfgaNlE
If you are a small business owner, please do not stop selling. And if you are a consumer, please support us small businesses by buying from us, even if it’s just one small thing that you need or want. We are so lucky to be having this pandemic in this time of e-commerce and the internet. We don’t need to go out anymore if we need to buy something and deliveries of goods are also becoming more ubiquitous these days. How worse this would be if this happened back in the 80’s, can you just imagine? Anyway, we need each other… we need all the help we can get to keep our national and global economy going. I hope this blog post has helped or guided you in some way.
Stay safe everyone and God bless!