A virus can spread fast and fear can spread faster. Unfortunately, as we have recently seen, knowledge and truth are sometimes the slowest to spread. This has always been the problem with social media, whether in the commercial or political realm.

The Loop Marketing was founded in 2009 after the last great recession. Prior to that, I was working as a national speaker for an SEO marketing company—a household name at the time—and was traveling across the country to meet hundreds of business owners negatively affected by the economy. I heard their concerns, but also I was energized and excited by the potential that online search marketing offered. There was a “pitch” at the end of each presentation, and only a few brave business owners took advantage and started this new-ish strategy of professional SEO. The rest left with more knowledge than before the seminar but few skills in executing marketing strategies. The times were tough.

I founded my company after a sudden layoff, that national SEO marketing company having ceased operations in that arena after a major executive shakeup. I thought it would be a short term solution while I looked for a permanent marketing position. I spoke with some of the business owners who I had continued to be in touch with, and having known the ins and outs of SEO at time, I was able to craft and execute SEO strategies for them that worked. All using remote work technologies in the comfort of my apartment in Chicago! The business grew.

After 10 years, The Loop Marketing has an office in the iconic Merchandise Mart and a staff of talented and enthusiastic marketing professionals. We have had client relationships that have lasted for years, built on trust and results. I am truly thankful but not afraid to say that it was a lot of hard work.

But today we are seeing something with our clients we have never seen before. We have restaurants forced into delivery only with little future certainty. Entertainment centers for kids closed with dozens of employees in limbo. Medical professionals in elective procedure fields that may have their facilities and staff commandeered in the coming battle. And one entrepreneur who has a wife who is a nurse answering the call in New York City. These relationships are not just business, they are personal.

I find myself back to working from home. Our team is accustomed to having remote working flexibility, and they are somehow stronger than ever. They rock. But I also have young children at home, not able to go to preschool or daycare, and my wife works even harder than I do. Conference calls get interrupted by giggles and screams. The kids’ tablet needs frequent charging. Minute by minute, I am juggling my kids, my marriage, my team, and my clients. It starts at 5:30am and doesn’t end until I can’t keep my eyes open in the evening.

But, we make it work. And my team is kicking butt for our clients in their most challenging times. My kids are showing me how amazing they are and I am genuinely grateful for the extra time I get to spend with them. My wife shares the load while she is shining in her company role. And I try not to complain, because EVERYONE is in the same boat, and many have it much worse.

For businesses out there who face uncertainty, I can only offer a little advice based on my personal experience and how marketing economics works. First, look at your cash flow. Your employees need to come first, and hopefully we will finally see some government programs that can really help. Then rent and utilities – you have to keep the lights on.

After that, however, there is an inclination to look at cost cutting, and that is natural and necessary. The marketing budget is a tempting target and cutting that means true “retrenchment,” and that’s ok. Every business owner should know their priorities.

Muhammed Ali is often considered the greatest boxer of all time, but he was never the biggest, the strongest, or the one with the longest reach. Ali’s technique was to contend in a match, wait until he found an opening – typically when a larger opponent got tired of punching – and strike.

In the 1974 “Rumble in the Jungle” vs. George Foreman, Ali was a major underdog to one of the hardest hitters in boxing history. Ali used the “rope-a-dope” technique, letting Foreman hit him while in a defensive posture, taunting him, until Foreman was tired. Ali then used a combo in the eighth round to drop Foreman for a knockout. George Foreman later said, “I thought Ali was just one more knockout victim until, about the seventh round, I hit him hard to the jaw and he held me and whispered in my ear, ‘That all you got, George?’ I realized that this ain’t what I thought it was.”

I challenge business owners in this time of uncertainty and hardship to realize two things. First, it may last weeks or months, but we will prevail over this pandemic. Cash flow issues may be mortal to some, but smart management and federal resources should help most see the other side.

Second, there may be no better time to market your business, especially through a smart Content Marketing, PPC, or SEO strategy. Those businesses which took advantage of my previous company’s seminar SEO program in 2008? Most are thriving, catapulted forward by running where others were crawling. The rest might have been the knockout victims of 2008. If you can, strike while your competitors are retrenching.

At The Loop Marketing, we are increasing our own marketing, including launching a brand new website and marketing initiatives we haven’t tried before. We are doing our best Muhammed Ali impersonation, and we have been waiting patiently for our opening (albeit without the taunting). We are now poised to “float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.”

I hope if you are a business owner reading this you can maintain hope, see a little further, and start planning your knockout combination. We will beat the Coronavirus, get back to business, and the world will look great with you on top.

Good luck and good health,

Elijah Litstcher

Founder and Chief Digital Strategist, The Loop Marketing Inc in Chicago, IL