March of 2020 came into our lives with sudden unexpected changes. Like most businesses small and large, we found ourselves having to wrestle with fear, declining revenue, and staff uncertainty. This was uncharted territory, the most difficult time in my thirty years as an entrepreneur. We faced an 80% drop in revenue, had to shift to a remote ‘work from home’ model with Zoom calls almost daily with business peers, finding ways to see the path ahead through a tunnel that was both long and dark.
I am someone who forever sees the glass as half full; an optimist. And just a few years out from retirement, failure was not an option. Yet, the uncertainty for the Pilot° team and the loss of team comradery as we navigated the work from home model took a toll. Our strength has always been community and connection. We needed to learn how to re-create and, indeed, build on this within a new work-life model.
Loss of business as our clients navigated their own financial realities was staggering. Pilot° has been in business for 30 years, building a solid brand and reputation. But we knew we could not survive on 20% of our pre COVID revenue.
What to do? We needed to reinvent ourselves in order to operate within new realities and to embrace the uncertain future. We could not rely on the customers who were our mainstay pre COVID. I started with a review of Pilot°’s marketing process. I discovered that the philosophy we advocate to our clients on a daily basis, we were failing for our most important client, Pilot°. Our window to the world, our website, needed to reflect who we are today, versus fifteen years ago. While developing great digital strategies daily for our clients, Pilot° itself did not have a strong digital presence. We had to mentally position Pilot° as our most important client. Pilot° will launch a new website and a new digital marketing strategy in April 2021.
In the wise words of Arlene Dickenson, spoken at a fireside chat with the NL Chapter of the Women President’s Organization, “Marketing is the business! It is so much more than sales. It is about hiring, it is about culture, it is about vendor relationships, it is about media relations and it is about public relations.” As business owners, we need to ensure our business is attended to as if it were our most important client. It is.
The challenges and stress that Covid-19 presented would have been unbearable without a supportive and caring staff. They faced challenges head-on, kept the business moving and worked hard to create a positive morale within the team. They were rock stars! In addition, the support and wise counsel of my peers in WPO: Women President’s Organization, was invaluable! When spirit was low, they encouraged, they allowed you to vent, they allowed you to cry and most of all they supported all of us in our goals to survive and thrive.
We often talk about and read about following your purpose. While Pilot° is a marketing and communications firm, we have a third silo or line of business that evolved organically. Without shouting about our expertise in the development and execution of capital campaigns, this part of our business has organically grown because of the core strengths in communications and marketing. It also happened because I believe in purpose-driven work for the communities in which we live, work and play.
Over the years, we have led campaigns that have involved everything from inclusive therapeutic services like Rainbow Riders to building or renewing cultural spaces such as the Sealers Museum and the Gros Morne Theatre. Please see our website for more. In each campaign, we have joined with diverse communities to bring and/or enhance much-needed infrastructure and programs. And we have been overjoyed to be a catalyst for widespread community support. We will bring that offering to life in a way that we have not in the past. We are in the business of positive change, now more than ever.
So very excited about the future!