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The Covid-19 Outbreak Is Dramatically Shifting Business. This Veteran Agency Owner Shares How to Cope.

It’s no secret that the COVID-19 outbreak will likely trigger a recession in the global economy in the coming months. The question is how will businesses overcome the impending financial woes, and when will they be over? Chad Brittian, the agency owner behind NVS Design, teaches us what we need to know about operating a business in these troubling times.

Grit Daily: We last covered your brand about “keeping it real” but Covid times have made agency life even realer. What’s the current temperature around NVS Design’s industry? 

Chad Brittian: I have noticed a dramatic shift in our business and how we operate day-to-day. I made the difficult decision to close all three of our offices down for the safety of our associates and clients. We are fortunate enough that a large majority of the services we provide can be done remotely without much direct contact.

That being said there are parts of our business that were immediately affected. We were hit hard with one event cancellation or postponement after the next. Many of our clients that were hoping to expand and sign retainers have now come to a screeching halt. It is extremely difficult to know what to do as much of what is happening is for once completely out of our control. I sympathize with our clients and more than understand their position.

We unfortunately don’t have a crystal ball to tell us when things will be back to anything that remotely resembles a sense of normality. 2019 was the most successful year our agency has had which really helped propel us into 2020. As an agency that is driven on technology we have to constantly learn how to adapt and change our strategies to ensure we are at the forefront of our industry and while we couldn’t have predicted this would happen we will have to adapt and reevaluate to ensure our ongoing success. 

GD: You’ve said that “[s]howing the necessity of our value is a constant challenge we face even today.” In that sense, have client communications changed? 

CB: Thanks to technology we have been able to maintain a somewhat normal sense of workflow with our existing clientele through our standard communication channels, but it has been more of a challenge for a large majority of our clients. I believe our ability to adapt quickly to the circumstances has helped to put our associates and clients minds more at ease. It will be interesting to see in the months to come how businesses start to assess necessity over desire.

A lot of times marketing and advertising can unfortunately be viewed as luxury services, but it couldn’t be more of a necessity in a time such as this. You must stay ahead of your competition and to successfully do this you have to have a plan that will work both strategically and financially for you. Our industry is constantly changing with the newest and hottest trend(s) in the marketing and advertising space. What’s hot one day very likely won’t be the next. With more businesses looking at e-commerce and strengthening their online presence even more now because of social-distancing it is imperative that a company has a strong online presence.

This has been increasingly so at a rapid pace over the last few years, but now is critical for a business to stay afloat. Our agency works extremely hard to explain the importance of maintaining our clients current marketing strategy. Unfortunately some businesses may not survive which will give others the opportunity to expand. Sticking with a clear and consistent plan will truly define a businesses fate. 

GD: Despite what seems obvious, some brands have fumbled. Harvard, boasting a big endowment, laid off cafeteria workers. Hilton Hotels laid off workers despite plenty of cash and a taxpayer bail out on the way. How can brands avoid drawing consumer ire? 

CB: I think in an unprecedented time such as this many will take into considerable consideration how a company is treating their employees and clientele. While we have to be mindful and business savvy we have to put humanity first. As leaders we have an obligation to our associates and to our clients to ensure their well-being from all sides.

We have to realize the negative ramifications and social-stigma that will come with making greedy decisions which can come with a much steeper price tag. Many companies have been praised for adapting to the circumstances and doing whatever they can to be part of the solution and not a part of the problem. It is in these dire times that we can truly show not only who we are as a company or organization but who we are as humans and either be an AmeriCAN or an AmeriCAN’T.

GD: How should small-and-medium-sized business owners weather this “storm?”

CB: I believe more now than ever we have to look towards the future and focus on the things we can control. With so much uncertainty right now it makes it very hard to look at the light at the end of the tunnel. While each business will be impacted differently it’s imperative to hold on to what made that business successful in the first place. 

As the years pass it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day operations and forget our passion especially in times of despair. Circling back and taking a moment to revisit a company’s core foundation and the very things that made it work is critical in seeing it weather through this storm. 

GD: How are Covid times an opportunity in disguise? 

CB: I believe that the companies that use this time to prepare and stabilize their foundation will truly have the power to move mountains. Our economy will eventually bounce back and those that can come out of the gate running will be substantially ahead of the curve. We have to approach what will be the new “normal” with a realistic plan in order to successfully move forward. 

It’s also a good time to look at your competitors and pay attention to what they are doing. See how they are adapting and learn from their mistakes. Although this is a trying time that can define a company’s success or failure we have the choice to make lemonade out of the lemons we have been given.