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A quick Google search for strings like “sectors most affected by the coronavirus” is enough to realize that the impact of Covid19 on world economies will be devastating.

Overcoming the subjective considerations of optimism and pessimism, in this post, we share our realistic view to understand who will be most affected and above all, what will make the difference between those who will be saved and those who will not.

Photo by Marco Bianchetti on Unsplash

First consideration: the art of making do

In recent weeks videos have been abundant (both on TV and other channels such as YouTube) of people “learning” to do things on their own:

  • Gyms closed? You train at home, perhaps purchasing expensive equipment online (Amazon and Decathlon have been raided)
  • Beauty centers and hairdressing salons closed? The girls try to cut and dye their own hair
  • Restaurants closed? The pleasure of cooking at home is rediscovered. Yeast disappears from the shelves, so much so that it immediately becomes one of the most unavailable and sought-after goods on the market (well done and timely, by the way, the entrepreneurs of Bioenologia promptly went on air with a pressing campaign advertising on the yeast cream, available at a decidedly premium price, also on their online shop: perfect timing and integrated communication. Chapeau!)
  • No cinema? There is Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

Etc., etc….

Second consideration: the fear of entrepreneurs

Proportionally to the videos of Italians rediscovering do-it-yourself, the demonstrations of reasonable fear from entrepreneurs and category representatives have grown: what if people permanently changed their consumption habits and will never go back?

This fear is not without foundation: why return to the pizzeria if pizza is now good at home too? Why renew your gym membership after spending significant amounts of money on a home gym?

What will make the difference?

What will be the distinction between those who will recover strongly and those who will not be able to raise the shutter?

Distinctiveness #1: Perceived professionalism

Do-it-yourself is the only possible alternative when there is no real advantage in the professional.

For those who, like us, work in the digital world, the question is as old as the clock: “my cousin makes the site”, “a friend of mine manages the social networks”, etc… etc… and then you meet everyone at the gate when they come back whining about Google’s penalties or about having invested in Facebook and having 6 people in reach. It happens.

Why do certain facile attitudes exist and persist? There are several possible explanations:

  • you don’t know the sector and the product well: in this case, you can’t perceive the difference in value. We are talking about those that do not understand the difference between a cooking wine and a fine wine
  • you don’t need a high-end product or service
  • that product or service does not require qualified professionalism but it is preferable to outsource it for reasons of time (or desire)

The question to ask yourself to understand whether you have this differentiating factor or not, therefore, is: are you replaceable?

Not from a competitor, but from a product purchased on Amazon or from a tutorial found on Wikihow or YouTube.

And if you are not replaceable, are you sure everyone is understanding that? Do you effectively communicate your difference and value proposition?

Distinctiveness #2: Offer experiences, not products

What makes the difference between an elegant dinner in a starred restaurant and a quick meal in a noisy fast food restaurant?

What’s the difference between a haircut from a city center beauty salon and one from a good suburban hairdresser?

The answer is the experience you have.

These experiences cannot be replicated at home. Full stop.

A dinner in a starred restaurant isn’t about what’s on the plate, at least not only: it’s about “dressing up”, it’s the waiting, the “studied” attitude in front of the waiter who welcomes you to take your coats and move away the chair, it’s looking around to admire the furniture pretending to be accustomed to so much luxury, tasting a gram of coral cream or risotto with gold leaf just to feel like a pasha… this is the experience.

Distinctiveness #3: Plan-ahead for a long-term vision

Focusing 100% on the experience is a double-edged sword: it can make you irreplaceable, but it can also deprive you of the possibility of a plan b.

Not everything can be replaced with the perceived value and offering an experience.

Being amazed by a spectacle of nature, getting to know new places, bathing your feet in the crystal clear waters of an island… these are experiences that cannot be replicated and will be heavily limited by the effects of the epidemic. This is why tourism will be one of the most affected sectors.

What solutions are you inspired by?

For over a month, Disney has activated promotional campaigns for bookings for the 2021 season at Disneyland.

This is why in Italy there is so much talking about promotional and communication initiatives aimed at stimulating domestic tourism. Initiatives like the RiparTiAmo manifesto or #iorestoinitalia are welcome.

Disney’s slogan, however, is not “Let’s introduce Disneyland to the French”, but “Pay now and come from all over the world in 2021”. They look beyond: monetize today, and secure the long-term. The near future will follow its own dynamics that are currently unpredictable. If there is a possibility of traveling, domestic travel will certainly be favored, so an awareness campaign from this perspective may make sense, but it is an attempt that cannot absorb all the available resources.

And you can bet that in the coming months we will see many initiatives related to tourism marketing arise. Because, in fact, it is the only way forward.

So what?

The ambition of this article is to generate a self-criticism for entrepreneurs.

What happened is something no entrepreneur could have predicted or prevented. It was a blow between the head and neck that could not be avoided. And now, although it is a natural behavior, there is no point in feeling sorry for yourself. As painful as it may be, the only way to deal with current events in a constructive way is to raise your head, look in the mirror, and make a calm self-criticism without self-justifications.

Let’s look ourselves, as entrepreneurs, straight in the eye. Let’s look at our business. Let’s put ourselves in our customers’ shoes and use our empathy to understand how we are perceived, and how the product/service we are offering is perceived TODAY, and how our professionalism is seen TODAY.

And then ask yourself: am I replaceable? Do I offer an experience? How can I look at the future with a non-sighted gaze?

Nobody saves themselves. We will not be saved by “waiting for the storm to pass”. The integration of skills will be crucial, today like never before taking a not thought-after step risks to be a costly move, one without a remedy.