Like many of you, I find most of my daily activities have significantly changed because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) quarantine/”shelter in place” rules. I’m making the best of it, spending time with my family, connecting more frequently via text, FaceTime and social media, and shopping — lots of shopping for food and supplies, of course, but also for soaps and workbooks. My email is flooded with discounts, promotions and updates on how businesses are trying to survive amid COVID-19 or pausing operations to take care of customers and employees.
Every person I know is thinking about what this lockdown means for education and kids. Those of us who work in education are always thinking about the education community — funding, education availability and equity, digital and eLearning, and year-round learning.
We are living through an unprecedented event in our histories. That COVID-19 has necessitated shutting down schools and colleges, airports, shops — entire states — is nearly incomprehensible. It seems inconceivable. We are part of the history books not yet written. The ones our kids, grandkids and even great grandkids will read. How often, I wonder, have people thought about that?
There have been other events in the last 100 years that have challenged our country to our limits, causing us to stop, take stock and change. Obviously, 9/11 is the freshest memory, but we also had the Flu Pandemic of 1918, World Wars, the Great Depression, the polio epidemic, and more.
So, one of the Big Questions we all face while we distance ourselves socially is: how do we maintain a thread of normality in our lives and businesses in an uncertain, constantly evolving environment?
Many of us are lucky that we can keep working remotely, but the reality for those who work in brick and mortar locations and any public-facing business is different. School buildings are closed and many conferences have been cancelled or rescheduled. This has a devastating impact on businesses, communities and individuals. How do we accept our current limitations, but continue to be productive and carry on business as much as we can?
Weekly, I am pivoting my plans, figuring out how to help customers, thinking about what is pressing on educators’ minds today. Do school supply lists matter? When is “back to school” selling season? What funds are available/will be available to schools and districts? Each day we are literally learning something new, hearing something different. With all this social distancing, in some ways I feel a greater sense of community.
I’m amazed at how some companies are pivoting, being creative and figuring out ways to serve and sell — from the local pottery studios to restaurants to learning companies offering free materials. We need commerce so that we can continue to prosper as a society before, during and after this crisis, and we need to keep learning and figuring out ways to keep moving.
It has been inspiring to see how many schools and colleges have shifted to a 100% online model in very short order to keep students engaged and focused on learning for as long as this emergency lasts. While they’re not physically in schools, they are desperate for content to keep their kids — and themselves — from going stir crazy. Education marketers can help by providing resources to assist educators in this new virtual/remote environment. See what some companies are already doing.
It’s true you can’t reach educators in person and in schools right now, but they are all over the internet and social media.
In these days of forced isolation, are there ways you can adjust your business model to meet the demand for online content? Can you re-think your in-person live conferences and events and convert them to virtual events? Do you have resources that can be downloaded for home use? Do you have content that can be streamed?
Think of ways you can stay in touch — updates on how your company is dealing with COVID-19, things you can share with your customers, or finding the humor in our current predicament. These are real — and memorable — actions you can take to help ease the fear. Your brand depends on it.
And, remember while we manage through this situation, we’re all in this together.