5 Financial Tips For Event Marketers During the COVID-19 Shutdown
By Tom Johnson – Southport Marketing Partner, COO & CFO
April 15, 2020
The event industry has been frozen. From one day to the next, unlike most businesses, our industry stopped on a dime. One thing that hasn’t been put on an indefinite hold is the financial and business side of Event Marketing.
I have been in the event marketing space for 20+ years. Over the years, I’ve witnessed recessions, 9/11, surges and consolidation in our industry. We are living in unprecedented times – a complete and total shutdown of live events. Many of us are in financial “survival mode” right now, but not all of our problems will be solved overnight. Here are a few thoughts and considerations regarding what the event industry is going through – specifically as it relates to keeping your company moving with little to no revenue.
Don’t make knee-jerk reactions
One of the first things that surprised us was the number of event industry employees that were laid off, literally on day one of the crisis. Our human capital is our greatest resource. They too depend on a job, and, as an owner, it is our role to take care of our family the best we can. At some point this will be over, and we will be eagerly waiting to go, go, go. If you have laid off most of your talent, how do you return to excellence when this is over? Find other ways to cut overhead, cut office expenses, raise insurance deductibles, cancel subscriptions, find the fat and cut it. The people that make your company’s engine go are so vital to your success. With financial planning, emergency reserves, and looking to other avenues to eliminate or reduce, cutting staff should be your last resort.
Having a reserve fund is vital to getting through a time like this. Not to this level but we have seen hard times in the past, causing us to operate conservatively when appropriate. That always resonated with us that it could and would happen again. And guess what, it did! Just not the way we expected it to happen. All small business owners should hold capital in reserve. It is your insurance policy for survival when there are bumps in the road. It is never too late to begin to make that plan and getting started.
Look to your insurance company. If you have an Income Replacement Policy, call them. They will tell you no, your policy does not cover this claim. We were told the same, but we didn’t take no for an answer. We checked with our payroll’s legal department and they told us no as well. We still didn’t take no for an answer. Ironically, we came across an advertisement from Gomez Trial Attorneys in San Diego (TheGomezFirm.com) stating they are filing claims regarding COVID-19 being covered by business income replacement insurance. It will take time but, in my opinion, this will be something they must cover. We all pay so much money for insurance every year and it is important to understand your insurance policy. Check out this news clip for a detailed example – ABC News Video.
Keep client communications open
All of our clients are going through the same problem right now. Check in to see how they have been affected. What are your clients talking about to make a difference or as they prepare to re-engage in their marketing plans? Plan for operations to resume and provide solutions and options to drive business objectives.
Apply for the Economic small business (CARES) loan right away. While it isn’t going to be the golden goose, it may get you by for a little while. Even if you don’t get approved, there will most likely be tax credits for 2020 to offset some of these items. Generally speaking, while we are not a fan of government funding, we certainly recognize this is the only lifeline some small businesses have.
In conclusion, we all received a wake-up call to the weakness of our individual business whether you like it or not. Now you can take another look and ask yourself where you need to improve. What changes can you make? Is your business diversified in its income strategy? Do you have reserve funds to weather another storm? How can you be a solution provider to your clients?
This is something unprecedented in our economy and hopefully we never have to weather this storm again. Record unemployment levels are getting worse by the day. Try to keep your employees going right now even if it is half the income. It is still better than unemployment. Do all you can to hang in there. At some point, this will be over. Position your business for success by building it on a solid financial foundation. Times like these may shake your business, but you will be able to make it to the other side. Southport will be here when business returns and we hope we have given you a few tools for your business to make it as well.
Stay in, stay safe, and plan, plan, plan.