It has been almost two months since COVID-19 truly disrupted our worlds. It was nearly two months ago that business came to a screeching halt. Self-isolation became mandatory. Zoom calls became commonplace. Travel ceased. People were laid off or let go. Cities shut down to a great extent. Our arts, events, sport, and charitable communities, sponsor and member associations had to cancel or postpone events, and reconfigure the way they conduct business and operate. Now, after nearly two months of this disruption, we have come to accept that the way we conducted our operations prior to mid-March 2020 is history. Once we are through phase one of COVID-19 and come out the other side, it will be a New World. Things will be different—and now is the time to plan for it.
In having this discussion last weekend with colleagues, one person insisted that we cannot plan until we know timelines. I disagreed and told them so. If your event that was previously scheduled between March and August is cancelled, start planning for next year. Never before have you had a full year to plan an event, talk to sponsors (see below), and be innovative and creative—because this IS a New World. Below are three tips for Post COVID-19 success. By no means is this the “be all and end all,” but some curated tips for recovery in the New World.
- You may not know when your jurisdiction will lessen the existing rules or allow events again, but that does not stop you from creating a schedule and recovery plan—just base it on timelines such as week one after event ban lifting; week three after self-isolation is lifted, and so on. Make the plan and follow it, but be flexible—know that you may have to adjust and be more agile in your planning than ever before.
- Stop trying to recreate the past. It’s gone—not completely, but the way we used to do things will not be the same in the future. Start preparing now for the New World. Examples:
- Sampling as we knew it is not an option, probably for a year or more (perhaps never again), so how can you get your product into the hands of people you want to test it at a fair, hockey game, school, or ballet performance? Start planning now how you as a sponsor, or a property working with your sponsor, can make this happen in a safe and sanitary manner. Is it virtual or otherwise?
- What role will “contactless” interaction play in your organization with your sponsorships? How can people interact without touching experiential brand ambassadors, keypads, or other apparatus? Is there a place for VR or AR? Now is the time to start investigating and planning.
- It is through escalated social and digital right now that you have (hopefully) shared with your partners and provided value added support. How can you extend that? How can you integrate digital and social more naturally and authentically (versus forced) into this New World?
- Will you move to virtual or partially-virtual events? If you cancelled your gala or event and sponsors let you keep the money as a donation, what are you learning from that and is there an opportunity for the future?
- Continue to communicate with your partners. Learn how they are doing now versus when you talked to them last. Let them know what you are working on. Continue to share stories and posts about them. Support them!
For more insights, feedback, and tips on managing during COVID-19, during the recovery and Post COVID-19, check out our videos page on the Partnership Group – Sponsorship Specialists® website. There are several short clips, some longer ones, and full-blown webinars on COVID-19 and your sponsorship programs. Access is 100% free.
Please continue to self-isolate, stay home, stay in touch with others, and stay healthy. There is a very exciting New World coming our way and we will need all our energy to experience it.
© 2020 All rights reserved.