First, Be Human.

This week I was looking at our marketing plan, trying to figure out how to best respond to the current times when I came across this phrase – “First, be human.”

It’s a great lesson because unless you make toilet paper, times are hard right now. Businesses are shut down or struggling. Churches are empty and learning on the fly. Non-profits are having to convince people to give and volunteer while stockpiling runs rampant.

Yet through it all, Community is somehow thriving. In the past week, I’ve driven by restaurants with lines of cars as people organize to help small local businesses. I’ve watched as people discover new tools to connect with friends and family remotely. And, I’ve seen families rediscover being together.

In the midst of it all, the first lesson should always be – “First, be human.”

Second, Share Knowledge.

Whether the goal is to market your service, get someone to fill out that first time card, or convert someone to being a donor – we are all “selling” something.

And it’s just not the right time.

It is, however, the right time for freely sharing our skills, experience, and knowledge with those who are struggling in this new situation. Remember lesson one and then put it in action. Post the lessons you are learning, offer your help to someone in need (from 6 feet away), give a free consultation. If you’re a church, put energy into finding new, innovative ways to connect people into Community. If you’re a non-profit, focus on helping people and sharing that story.

Engagement and connection will follow as people feel helped, loved, cared for, appreciated, or connected to you. And that is a strategy that will last long after everything returns to normal.

Third, Plan for Tomorrow.

The third lesson for planning in a crisis… is to continue to plan. Christmas is still coming; summer camps will return; businesses will reopen.

If your building needs repairs, this is the perfect time to check those projects off. Construction is an essential industry, and your parking lot will still be too small when your people return. If your restaurant’s dining area needs remodeling, what better time is there than now? If your space needs to be updated, this is the time to start so that you are ready when life returns to normal.

Remember, even if COVID-19 disappears tomorrow, the world will not be the same. You have learned to do so many new things in the past few weeks. Take those lessons, incorporate them into your future planning, and remember – First, be human.