Episode 18: Controlling What You Can: Pivoting During COVID-19 (Transcript)

Mar 24, 2020



Intro (00:02):
Pixie Dust and Profits is a podcast for small business owners who love Disney and want to sprinkle some of that magic onto their own businesses. Join your host, Nicole Boucher, and Yasmine Spencer. As they explore the mouse’s $12.6 billion operation and break down exactly how you can, why these big scale concepts to your own business.

Yasmine (00:27):
Hello, and welcome back to pixie dust and profits. We’re coming back to you a little bit earlier than usual this week, because we wanted to talk about what’s happening in the Disney ecosystem right now in these UN reside at times. And if you’re sick of hearing about it, I’m sorry, but I swear there’s business lessons at the end of this. So you’ll wanna listen right now. Disney is pretty much at a standstill because of coronavirus. We know that they close down the parks, they push back the premiere of movies like Milan is not launching on schedule. It’s impacting the full Eling and creation of other movies. It has closed down their entire resort ecosystem for well, not entire, but for the most part, most of the resorts in the Disney ecosystem. And we’re kind of scratching our heads as Disney fans thinking like what’s happening. What’s next? When is it all gonna go back to normal?

Nicole (01:22):
Yeah. So I wanna like go over the timeline to show you the significance of this, because I don’t know if you realize how many Disney parks there are, but Shanghai Disney and China closed on January 25th, Hong Kong closed January 26th. They’re still closed today. Tokyo Disneyland, February 28th, Disneyland Paris, March 15 Disney land in California, March 14th and Disney world in Orlando, March 16th. So every single Disney park is closed right now. They also announced all of the resorts at Disney world are closed. That’s a lot of people

Yasmine (01:58):
At 5:00 PM today. That’s when everyone’s getting kicked out. So we’re recording on Friday, March 20th.

Nicole (02:04):
Yeah. So it’s pretty big for a company like that to close everything. I know some people said they probably should have closed sooner, especially with the cases in California. We’re not gonna really talk about that stuff, but we just wanna mention from a business standpoint that if you feel like you’re a little overwhelmed and you don’t know what decisions you should be making and things are too changing on the fly, this is happening at a large scale level to places like Disney are having to rethink everything. Now, fortunately, in some ways Disney had multiple revenue streams. They launched Disney plus about four or five months ago. And so they were leaning very heavily right now on that to get them through the significant loss of revenue that they’re going to have have you know, they did things like released frozen too early on Disney plus to try and entice people who haven’t bought to go ahead and buy in a subscription that wasn’t supposed to release until June. And I’m sure they have other plans in the works for getting movies out there faster than they originally intended just because people are home, people are gonna buy those subscriptions.

Yasmine (03:06):
Nicole and I had a Disney trip coming up. In fact, we were supposed to fly out on Wednesday. So a day after this episode is released to go work on a special project and to celebrate my birthday. Yeah,

Nicole (03:20):
We were really looking forward to it. We had like three days where we already had like a schedule laid out for, you know, the work time for the project we’re working on possibly filming some videos to have a YouTube channel with fun rides behind us. So obviously we can’t do that for now, but we had all these great plans. We were also going to meet one on one with someone locally in Orlando just to do like a lunch Powow consulting session. And so those are all things that we had to cancel and we made the decision to cancel it about two or three weeks ago before Disney world closed.

Yasmine (03:57):
Yeah. So we were sort of like looking at, I kind of wanna say the writing on the wall, even though that sounds a little bit negative. Like for one, I knew that travel would probably re be restricted or be more risky around that time. I live in Toronto, we have a very busy international airport and I know that a lot of airlines and airports are saying that they’re, you know, increasing their Haitian measures, but just knowing how the virus can exist on surfaces and in the air for certain periods of time. It just seems super risky, especially because I live like right next door to my parents and my 78 year old grandma. So obviously I didn’t want to do anything though put their lives at risk or my four month old baby. So that was one concern that we had.

Nicole (04:43):
And really to us, we were like, Disney will be there another time. It’s very sad to us to not be working on the project we wanted to do, but, you know, we can still make that happen. And we are very fortunate in that we were able to cancel with not too much penalty, some credit so we can fly again later. But it, you know, these are the business decisions we’ve had to make in the last few weeks. And so we know that you’re facing decisions you might not want to make but have to. And so we really wanted to delve into like, you know, Disney’s doing some things here, how can we give you just a quick six things you can think about in your business while things are changing so rapidly? So the first one we wanna talk about is that, you know, what’s very interesting is that Disney closed everything down.

Nicole (05:28):
Now I’ve talked about this in the past. I get Disney emails almost daily about booking a cruise or, you know, just coming to visit or because I’m on their website searching for better rates. They’re like, come back to your cart, come check out. I I haven’t gotten any of those. The only emails I have gotten from Disney lately have been about canceling upcoming trips, things to look for. I got a phone call from someone because I had ordered a surprise birthday cake for Yasin for her birthday. We had dinner reservations and I was going to have a nice little cake for us. And, you know, I got a phone call from them saying, Hey, we’re closing. I’m gonna cancel this order just so you know, and that’s the level of service that I wouldn’t even expect in a time like this. So I really appreciated it.

Nicole (06:11):
But what I’m really trying to say is that it seems like their promotional marketing department has kind of shut down the emails. They don’t want people booking new trips right now because they don’t know when they’re going to open. We were talking about this a little bit before we started airing. And, you know, they sent home all of their college interns that tells me that they don’t know what their capacity is gonna be like from now until may or June. And they also probably, you know, couldn’t or safe living environments for all of those students under their care and their umbrella. But that’s a lot of uncertainty. We don’t know when the next Disney trips will happen. And so they’re not sending out promotional emails, especially not about cruises, which are the ones I seem to get a lot of. So I wanna encourage you today to go, if you do email marketing in any way, go into platform and reevaluate the emails that you already have scheduled to go out, or the ones that you have, like kind of half drafted that you were going to send out.

Nicole (07:06):
We’re not saying that you shouldn’t promote or market or sell. Definitely do that. If that’s what you are called to do, or you had an offer ready to go, especially if it’s something that people need right now, we’re just saying, go in and maybe unschedule or reschedule some of the things in there. You know, if you had an in-person event and you had some prescheduled emails trying to sell seats to that event, you might wanna turn those off because you don’t know if your event is actually going to continue as scheduled or be the same format. You might be going to a virtual type of event. So just go ahead and look at your promotional emails that are going out and adjust them as needed.

Yasmine (07:44):
And if I could just add one thing, like, especially with event related emails, we don’t know if people are ready to buy any in person experiences right now. So if you have this great content, maybe hold off on a little bit before you send it out, because it might be just falling on like deaf ears right now. So speaking of other promotions that you might have running check to see if your ads are still ongoing and for a number of reasons. So another thing that I haven’t been getting is all of those retargeting ads from Disney in my Facebook feed and on Instagram. And again, like Nicole mentioned, there’s some uncertainty going on. So I’m not surprised that they’ve stopped trying to get me to book feature trips. But right now, the other thing that I’m noticing across the board with my clients is that ad spend is increasing.

Yasmine (08:29):
Again, people are not as focused on purchasing things right now because of the situation that the world is in. So obviously interaction rates, engagement rates, everything is just dropping right now. So I would highly recommend scaling back on spend if you’re noticing your cost spike, or if you are getting good engagement on something, maybe it’s an opportunity to increase it because what you’re putting out there is relevant to people and is capturing their attention as something that they need. One other thing that we want to flag is that right now, with all the social distancing measures that Facebook is putting in place, add approvals are taking a lot longer. So if you were planning on scheduling something and having it like run the next day, high cost be damned, you might wanna schedule it a couple days in advance. I literally have four ads that I had scheduled on Saturday. That’s like six days ago that are still sitting in review and there’s nothing I can do to push them forward. So just be mindful of that as well.

Nicole (09:28):
So something that was really related to that, that I was going to save as my last point is all about checking in with your or a team. If you have a team or yourself, if you are a solo business owner, because you can’t expect full capacity right now, no company is operating at full capacity. I was able to go to the grocery store and the lines are super long because they don’t have all the employees there to work. They’re all stocking shelves, trying to get everyone, everything that they, and so don’t expect things to turn around quickly. Don’t expect your copywriter to be in a mental state, to be able to write anything creative. Right now we are human beings. This is unprecedented. Yes. Work can still happen and work can go on, but there are people who are trying to homeschool. There are people who have never worked from home for navigating that situation.

Nicole (10:18):
So I think having some grace with yourself and what you can accomplish in the week and with your team, just checking in with them to see here’s the priorities that I need this week. Not expecting something to happen the next day, if it does praise them, thank them. Know that this is hard for all of us. And so that’s just something I wanna mention, because I know everyone knows this and I don’t wanna feel like I am telling you how to be a decent human being, cuz you are a decent human being, but it it’s just as behind the scenes person to someone’s business. We have a lot of clients who are all trying to change things all at once. And we luckily, fortunately have some clients who understand and that we have a family at home and are being very forgiving with, you know, our communication and how available we are because normally we’re much more available than we are right now. So I just wanna encourage you to think about things in that term too. You know, you might be excited, you might be launching new things. It’s hard on everyone right now. So think about everybody.

Yasmine (11:17):
Absolutely. That’s such a great point, Nicole, because again, your team is what really ultimately helps you drive your business forward when you expand from being a preneur. So treat your people well. So on that note, we’re adjusting our expectations for our team. We also need to adjust our expectations for our audience. So we’re very big on planning like at, on an annual level and then breaking things down by quarter to prioritize activities. And we’re also very big on looking at seasonal trends in terms of planning, our various marketing and sales activities. Those seasonal trends have literally been thrown in the garbage typically right now between March to, I would say like may is a really good period to push product out, sell to capture your audience before summer comes around where everyone sort of checked out, cuz the weather’s warm and their kids are at home and they’re out and about.

Yasmine (12:13):
And I know you’re saying, but Yasin everyone’s indoors. They’re at home. Doesn’t that mean that they’re paying attention more than ever, maybe, but if they’re like Nicole and myself and juggling work and kids and additional family obligations that typically weren’t on our plate before their time is so much more stress. So yes, they’re at home, but they’re not as focused and things like growing and investing their business at this current moment might be lower priority than it normally would’ve been. So what we’re really encouraging you to do is look at the plans that you have for the remainder of the year. Think of the position that your audience is in right now and adjust. It might be that, you know, we’re gonna have that sort of like summer lull until September when schools open up again. I mean around the country in Canada, in various states, schools are being shut down until September because they’re,

Nicole (13:06):
I’m fully expecting that.

Yasmine (13:08):
You’re yeah. Like they’re not sure if they’re gonna open up like in Ontario. Again, my little isn’t school yet, but I know a lot of who have kids in school, like they’re shut down, I think through April right now, but it’s a very real possibility that, you know, they’re gonna have to pick up next year in September when things sort of settle down. So really, really think about where your audience is right now and adjust your plans or at the very least adjust your messaging to speak to their current pain points right now, because there are many.

Nicole (13:40):
Yeah. And so along those lines of adjusting your calendar and what you’re promoting in the next few months, I also want you to think about adjusting the content you’ve been putting out there. Or you have scheduled to put out there be cuz obviously you might have social media content scheduled for the next month or two, if you’re head on things. But the message might not really jive with what’s happening today. There are obviously things that you can make evergreen, but you know, I went in and tried to adjust a few things because I knew dense content in is not really being consumed right now. Maybe in two to three weeks, people will be more receptive to that. But I think right now we’re in this, okay, let me have my emotions. I’m in my, you know, my reptile brain, my survival fight or flight type of response mode.

Nicole (14:31):
And so trying to absorb something about content strategy, isn’t really going to like settle in my brain and it’s not gonna be something that I’m going to be absorbing like the week following. So take a look at your content and your messaging. There’s quite a few people and we’ll link to a few resources that are helping with like a PR content strategy plan for how to talk about things when the world is in a pandemic. So we’ll link to a couple of those resources and people who are helping helping you get your message out there better. But if you have anything prescheduled you have like a launch coming up, just be gentle, maybe make the messaging in those ma break it out into five posts instead of one, you know, just one key point for each post, something small and digestible. It doesn’t mean that it can’t be, you know, rocket theory, but it can be simpler to consume.

Yasmine (15:24):
All right. So for our sixth and final point, and you probably notice a trend with every piece of advice that we’re giving, which is checking in on things, don’t forget about your terms and conditions. Don’t forget about your contracts that you have signed with your existing clients or prospective clients. Right now, if you have an event that is coming up in the next couple of weeks or the next month or two, it wouldn’t hurt to really reevaluate what your cuz source have bought into and start contingency planning. We have seen clients of our, our own like have to cancel events that were literally happening this week and have to navigate refunds to their customers, refunds from vendors rescheduling and what that’s gonna look like. There is a conference I was supposed to go into in April and ultimately Myle and I didn’t end up going because of a conflict on her end, but right now they’re trying to do everything in their power to cancel the event.

Yasmine (16:24):
And they can’t because technically it’s not impossible to like run the event with the hotel that they booked it at. And the impossibility clause had hasn’t come into effect just yet. So they’re just like waiting. But meanwhile, they have customers who are trying to decide, do they book flights, like for those who were flying in from the other side of the globe, they can’t get into the country right now, bill they’d be able to get into the country. There’s no flights for them to book. So there’s a lot of like uncertainty around that. So you might not have the answers right this second, but it’s really important to figure out what those answers might be and to start that process just so if you do have to cancel your event or change the program that you’re offering or any product where you’re currently in a contractual obligation with someone have those answers ready. So you’re not panicking when things change

Nicole (17:16):
It’s even if your answer is we’re evaluating the situation, just having that paragraph ready to go. And I’m sure that you can go in your inbox and find 700 different copies of COVID 19 emails to give you a starting point to work with. But even just something like we are monitoring the situation with our business partners, we are currently determining what the next steps are. Please be patient with us. You are important to us. Like that’s enough to at least have it ready to go to copy and paste it to reply to people who are quite frankly worried right now. And so, especially in some of these industries that are a little more discretionary income spending, just thinking about, we know it’s tough for you as a business owner, it’s tough for them as consumers. And just trying to remember that we are all kind of facing this time together and having those prescheduled kind of copy and paste files will really help you be able to take some of the emotion out of the transaction, the, the social transaction of someone asking for a refund or what the next steps are. You could have it ready to go. Like, I don’t know yet, but we will tell you as soon as we do know,

Yasmine (18:25):
And this isn’t an official point, but just something that we wanna put out there because we’ve been seeing a lot of comments around this right now, we’re seeing a lot of messaging around supporting your fellow, small businesses, buying a gift card, investing in something. If you feel like it’ll be useful. And we just wanna say that that’s a great thing to do if you can, but everyone’s financial situation right now is super uncertain. So don’t feel super pressured into buying something that you don’t necessarily need right now, there are still ways that you can support your local community.

Nicole (18:59):
So for example Yasin and I both have housekeepers who come to our house like every other week cleaning up the things that we don’t normally get to do, like mopping the floors and cleaning some windows. That’s a, just a, I made about a year and a half ago because I needed help. So I had more time to work on my business, but I wasn’t really ready to hire like a virtual assistant or a business manager. And I was looking at my day and thinking, where else can I save time? Like, how can I save any time? And I saw that, you know, if there were a lot of days that I was cleaning the, the house to keep it up. And so one of the decisions I made was to hire a housekeeper. And obviously right now we’re under social distancing and we’re keeping our houses under lockdown.

Nicole (19:40):
So, you know, one way that I could help a small business owner was I let my housekeeper know, Hey, I don’t want you coming into the house. I don’t wanna rescue safety. I don’t wanna risk hours say, but I will still pay you for the foreseeable future. It’s I can do that right now. And I want you to be home with your little ones, not worried about scrambling for jobs to be able to make ends meet. So that’s something I was able to do. I know that’s not something everyone can do. But that’s one way that I’m helping a small business owner knowing like where that going and that it keeps her home and safe.

Yasmine (20:14):
Yeah. And there’s a lot of local farms that are near both of us that unfortunately have their contracts canceled by restaurants that have been ordered to be shut down by cities and states and provinces. So they suddenly have all this produce or meat or, you know, whatever they make that they had expected to sell now on hand. So things that we’re doing is we’re trying to shop from them and, you know, help sort of unload some of those veggies and the meat and stuff that they have. Because again, that’s one way that we can still continue to support our community while keeping our bellies full.

Nicole (20:48):
My son’s after school program very quickly tried to adapt to be an, a an online virtual martial arts the kind of the exercise piece of his day. And I mean, that’s not ideal for us to throw that up on the TV or on an iPad, trying to juggle that in with home and everything else, but, you know, they’re trying really hard and they did an awesome job to pull together a structured program in what like two or three days. So we are continuing to pay them for after school coverage because they’ve been there for us for all of these years that we needed that. And, you know, we can be there for them. So just thinking about different ways, you don’t even need to have, have a monetary way of thanking a small business owner. You can leave a review for our podcast. So we know all the production time that goes into all of this. It’s, it’s helpful. You’re listening to it and you enjoy it. You can leave reviews for other business owners on Facebook, or just kind of sharing your experience of working with ’em. And that’s like one simple thing you can do sharing their social posts, commenting. Those are all easy things that don’t cost any money that will really bring someone’s spirits up, but also help them with some of these algorithms.

Yasmine (21:59):
So, one other thing that I wanna mention is, you know, Nicole and I had a Disney trip planned. I had a budget set aside from spending in the parks, cuz I can’t go without buying a couple mugs. It’s just like illegal in, in my world. But now with that budget that I had, instead of spending it in the parks, cause I obviously can’t, I just sort of reallocated towards Disney, small shops and you know, buying things that I had my eye on that I wanted. Because again, that’s another way that I can give back to our Disney community with money that I already planned on spending. So of course I ordered more ears like surprise, surprise, but there’s,

Nicole (22:35):
We’re gonna start wearing ears at home. Maybe we should start that hashtag moment like Disney at home and we can, everyone can share themselves wearing their ears.

Yasmine (22:44):
I mean, I literally have enough for my entire block if they want to partake. Now it’s not bad

Nicole (22:50):
Obsession. Just disinfect them after they

Yasmine (22:52):
Wear them, spray them with some ISOL.

Nicole (22:55):
All right guys. We hope that you found this kind of impromptu episode really helpful for kind of pivoting your business over the course of a pandemic. And we really enjoyed bringing this to you. Thank you so much for being a listener. If you could leave a review for us, that would be amazing because it’s one small thing you can do to let us know that you value the time that we spend making these episodes for you. So thank you. Stay safe and we hope to see you in two weeks, everyone healthy and happy.

Yasmine (23:27):



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