How to Help in a Crisis

In the last couple of weeks of checking in with old friends and colleagues about how they’re doing with the COVID-19 crisis, 2 people said to me “I wish there were more I could do.”

Good news: There is. 

First, at the simplest level, step up and lead at your company, if the company isn’t doing enough to help. Start something. Agitate. Win. If your company is already doing something to help, pitch in. Companies have resources, get in gear.

Some examples I love

Jill Klein at The Barn — a local burger joint that was shut down, got help to add a website button for anyone to donate $20 to feed lunch to a local nurse/firefighter – and they also stood up a drive-thru menu (and added toilet paper, good grief) to get the staff *some* hours of work. Donate here if you can spare $20 to feed a hero.

Phil Gordon at Chatbox and Sara Varni at Twilio helped with time and donated service to Coastside Hope, our local food pantry, to convert their food distribution scheduling to SMS/text-based, since a crowded lobby wasn’t going to work. Thanks, folks. The food pantries are drowning in the crush of out-of-work families, and they are not as comfortable with technology as you are.

Heather Zynczak at Pluralsight is running #freeapril, opening up their Developer & IT training for free – a good way to make the time useful and keep people sane/distracted, and also good upskilling for people looking for jobs that are more friendly to being done remotely.

Finally, I like what Stephanie Buscemi at Salesforce is doing with the #MakeChangeSeries. Even better, Salesforce is freeing up staff to acquire and distribute N95 masks to frontline first responders. Nice work, SB.

But I’m a Product Marketer/Marketer/Sales Person

There are things you can do in your day-job as well. In the middle of an 8-week research project with CMOs and sales leaders. I’m hearing 2 consistent ways they’re changing behavior during this crisis.

Sales people calling customers – and prospects they’ve been working with – to check in and simply ask how they’re doing, and if there’s anything they need. We’re all going to do better the more we check in with and help each other, and that goes for you and customers, too. 

One industrial products distributor in Houston told me a story last week of calling a customer and finding that she was planning layoffs because she couldn’t source protective gear for the staff. While it’s not a product he’d ever distributed before, he recruited his supply chain team to work on the challenge and was able to get a few palettes of gear to the customer, so she could stay in business and keep people employed. 

Shifting focus to inboundsales & marketing are still running, but sales people cold-calling and marketing teams hawking product are not the right thing right now (and not a good look). Instead, shift to figure out how you can engage more of the people who are coming to your website. What % of visitors to your website are you successfully engaging? Optimize there, with people who are raising their hands.

I’m so proud of the good works I’m seeing. Attitudes that say “of course I’ll help. What do you need?”

We’re all in this together.

The Front Porch
Moss Beach, California

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