I live at the now-hurricane-ravaged Jersey Shore–but you won’t hear me complain. I went six days without power, but that was the worst of it for me, to be honest. Areas of my town are devastated, and the town over has been nearly wiped away. I am blessed and beyond grateful to have survived and be back on the grid.
So, where’s the branding lesson in all of this?
Well, I could derive about a thousand from everything I went through over the week because my business was pretty much shutdown. Without power, what could I do? Was this it for KristenFischer.com–and my business? How would not being able to respond to inquiries affect my business? Would it be strong enough to weather the storm and its aftermath?
I’m not one for excuses. I don’t miss deadlines when I deliver marketing collateral content to my clients. So for the first time, being off the grid felt like I was really doing them a disservice. I texted the few that I could and thankfully only missed one deadline because I had worked ahead before the storm anticipating a few days without power. The client whose deadline I missed was, thankfully, quite understanding.
I learned that my brand is resilient as the storm victims here in the Northeast. Because I don’t miss deadlines and I am usually in communication with clients regularly, they were shocked–and concerned–when they didn’t hear from me. Instead of “Where the heck are you?” emails, I received letters of concern from my clients. It emphasized to me that my brand is just fine. I make it a point not to let my clients down on a regular basis, and I knew they recognized that and could forgive my time away from the computer. They knew there was nothing I could do. Some clients may not have been as understanding had I not built my brand as strong as it is.
Today, I have power. Unlike to many others around me, I can connect online and try to run my business as usual.
Nothing is normal or usual now, though, at least where I live. Steady streams of military, electric, tree, and tow trucks go by my house, which sits on a semi-main road. Things aren’t normal, but my brand is strong as ever. Of course, a power outage can’t kill your brand–but if you’re not providing good customer service consistently, you never know if an unexpected emergency could derail it.
It’s good to know that when you position yourself as someone reliable and accommodating from the get-go, your clients will generally respect that in the event you come close to falling off the face of the Earth. You can’t be unreliable or a client can dump you at anytime–and could very well go elsewhere even if there wasn’t a natural disaster keeping you out of touch. Instead of attacking you for a few days off the grid, clients are likely to be understanding–especially if you provide consistent service. Otherwise, a true emergency may arrive and an already dissatisfied client may use that as a reason to go to your competition.
Kristen is a copywriter and author who enjoys what she does for a living. Kristen is also a Certified Professional Resume Writer. Kristen writes regularly for MediaBistro, SheKnows and FreelanceSwitch. She is a panelist on the biweekly, award-winning podcast FreelanceRadio. Kristen is the author of Ramen Noodles, Rent and Resumes: An After-College Guide to Life and her new book, It Takes More than Talent: Business Basics for the Creatively Inclined is due out in January 2013. She has been featured on NPR, CNN, MSNBC, and CareerBuilder; and also in the Boston Herald, the New Jersey Star-Ledger and in the Asbury Park Press.