No, Fuck You. I AM Essential, Actually

Like way-too-many other people, I went from working-from-home to not-so-much-working-at-all this week. And, well. Fuck!

The list of essential services was posted earlier this week. And, not unlike when they posted the roster for the Grade 8 basketball team, I didn’t make the cut.

Many of my friends and family were fortunate enough to make the list and kept their job. To them, I say, “God bless you, you essential wonders. Now stop messaging me on Facebook or WhatsApp and get back to work.” You know who you are.

But, I also have a lot of friends in the marketing world who got some very, very bad news this week. So, I thought I would take this opportunity to pour a stiff bourbon and dust off the old soapbox.

I would never, ever presume to try to measure my importance next to someone like a nurse or frontline healthcare worker.

But, damn it, marketers are important.

Not a Great Week for Marketing Agencies, Let’s Face it

The sad truth is that most of us in this sector saw the writing on the wall long before the list was even published.

A lot of us work with small-to-medium-sized businesses that had to close their doors because of the virus. They can’t afford to pay their employees, so they certainly can’t afford to pay for marketing.

Marketing companies saw their client lists dwindle. Then, they had to let freelancers go. And then, they had to cut full-timers and many of us felt the blade.

I’ve received a number of messages from incredibly talented and experienced people in the industry who will join me in the unemployment line.

I should say that a lot of them have an unbelievable amount of optimism. There’s an inspiring sense of, “The world will figure its shit out, and then we’ll be back.” I guess it helps that we all have freelance-able skills.

That being said, our collective mood makes a strong case for the liquor stores being essential services.

If Marketers Aren’t Essential, They’re at Least Gosh-Darn Important

Social distancing has delivered a swift kick to the groin for most small businesses. If brick and mortar stores and restaurants aren’t closing, they’re pivoting to offer their goods online or via takeout only.

This is actually a time where marketers can be more useful than ever! Just sayin’…

A graphic artist can create amazing Facebook ads to let everyone know you’re still open. An SEO nerd can ensure you’re on Page 1 when social distancers Google to find out who’s open. A social media guru can help you leverage the fact that people are spending all this time on social media.

You might not be able to hire an entire agency right now. But, you can find nimble little freelancers who can help you keep your business afloat. If you’re desperate to keep your business open right now, try to find a freelancer who is desperate to help you. Many of them don’t have my potty mouth.

I’ll close by saying this to all of my friends in marketing: These last two weeks have been pure shit. But we got this.

The marketing community in Canada is actually remarkably small. We all pretty much know someone who knows someone who works at every agency. And, on far-too-many Fridays or Mondays, someone will announce, “Aw shit. I just got a text from ___ and ___ just laid off half of their staff.” All of our hearts break. 

We’ve all been there. We’ve all had to update our portfolios for the wrong reasons.

Sometimes, a client leaves and there are layoffs. Sometimes, the big client leaves and the agency closes down. Sometimes, a giant asshole of a virus ravages the global economy.

Absolutely nobody has ever accused me of being a silver lining kinda guy. But, I’d like to try to mirror my optimistic friends’ tone and say that we will all endure this disastrous mess. 

The night is always darkest before the blah blah blah. I’ll see you guys when the bars re-open.

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