Queensland flood response needs small business action

There have been many tragic and just plain sad stories that have come out over the last week, but mostly, I feel there have been volumes of uplifting and joyous stories of help, compassion and examples of the true meaning of community.
As business owners we are going to be responsible for helping to regrow the Queensland business community, just as our neighbours and friends are helping to rebuild the personal communities of this wonderful state.
You may feel that this is the wrong time to be putting any focus on your marketing efforts, but I truly want to say to you that now is potentially the most important time in decades to ensure you have a marketing plan in place. Businesses need to take into account the changes that have occurred to the economic environment due to the tragedy that has so recently taken place and have a current plan to build their business through trying times.
Include in your small business marketing ideas a quick check-up to make sure you are still servicing the same target market you were a month ago, and determine what is now the best way to reach these people successfully with all that has been happening to them.
An example of a simplistic change may be a landscape professional. Traditionally they may have offered a prestige design and creative consultancy. They may have used high end home and garden design glossy magazines with full page colour advertisements to obtain high margin luxury contracts.
As luxury services may not be easy to sell currently, not least of which because conspicuous consumption is bad taste, a new market may be useful. As a way to continue having some cash flow and as a wonderful service to those whose gardens had been destroyed by flooding, this business could offer a flat rate two day makeover to tidy and replant. To reach clients for this service, local newspapers and local or regional radio advertising may be far more cost effective and more likely to reach the right target audience.
Another area businesses need to take action following these floods is to ensure we support those who have supported us and others. I heard a wonderful story of a Brisbane restauranteur whose restaurant wasn’t operable due to flooding. They advised all their casual staff that had been rostered on to work that instead of losing their hours and pay, if they were willing to volunteer in the flood clean up, the restaurant would pay their wages. Wouldn’t it be great to continue supporting these businesses?
The Premier’s Disaster Relief Appeal website (www.thepremier.qld.gov.au/initiatives/disaster_recovery/donations.aspx) has a list of all the organisations who have donated greater than $10 000. Whilst we know that being a good corporate citizen is terribly important, it is even more important that we support those who have made the effort to live up to their good citizenship responsibilities. Try and include some of them as suppliers in your marketing plan or in your everyday business.
Finally, I recently enjoyed listening to an interview on radio station 4BC with Mike O’Hagan, founder and owner of MiniMovers. One particular comment he made had a real impact on me- Mike reminded us that it was imperative to the economy, the community and especially small business, that as soon as we are able to, we must try and return to a normal routine. This includes eating out, having our dry cleaning done, doing the grocery shopping, going to the movies, filling up the car with petrol or having it serviced. All of these day to day activities keep the money going around in our own communities. Without each and every one of us doing our ‘normal’ business, there will be no hours for the casual wait staff, the mechanics will be sitting in service centres with nothing to do, and every other business will be making no income to then spend elsewhere.
So get out there, get back into your personal routine, revisit your business marketing plan and get Queensland back on its feet!