The Rules Have Changed. Are You Ready?

With all the goings-on in our economy right now, the rules have changed. Many of us can't do business the way we were. In this episode of the Rialto Marketing Podcast, we're excited to talk to Doland White with Doland White Consulting today about how businesses can thrive in the current market.

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The Rules Have Changed. Are You Ready?


Tim Fitzpatrick:

Welcome to the Rialto Marketing podcast. I'm your host, Tim Fitzpatrick. If you are a business owner or entrepreneur looking to have a thriving business, you've come to the right place. We cover the best marketing growth in business tips, sprinkled with a little bit of mindset to keep you motivated. The rules have changed. Are you ready? I am Tim Fitzpatrick with Rialto Marketing thank you for tuning in, and I am really, really excited to have with me today, Doland White of Doland White Consulting. Doland, thanks for taking the time and welcome.


Doland White:

Thanks, man. It's good to be here, been looking forward to this conversation.


Tim Fitzpatrick:

Yeah, I always enjoy our conversations. So I've been looking forward to this one. Now, before we get into it we are going to talk about the important things that businesses should be doing, should be thinking about as we work through this whole COVID-19 business environment. Before we get into that, just tell us a little bit more about you and what you do and how you help businesses.


Doland White:

Cool. Well, thanks. I appreciate that. I'm really happy to be here today, Tim. I started this career 35 years ago. I have to stop and do the math. That's the gray hair thing. It's all a bit, although I attribute this to five sons. And I really fell into this industry backward. But when I first started, I started out, I was selling scanners for commission only. So I fell in love with the tech, love the industry. So I've been a technologist and I learned lessons as I grew up in my career. The technology is great, but you need to learn to sell and you got to learn to manage people and you got to learn that you got to be a leader.


Doland White:

And so I ended up leading large organizations and worked for some really, really cool companies, for Symantec and Altiris and Novell and IBM and worked with lots of different organizations through that process. And as a part of that growth, one of the gentlemen who worked for me many, many years ago, used to come to bug me all the time around, Hey, look we've started this company. We'd like for you to come work with us. And I kept putting them off. It's like, go away, kid, quit bothering me. And one day in 2015, I came home and he was pitching my wife on a new job in their company. The company was a marketing company. And I'm an engineer by trade. I've led these multiple thousand people companies, been all over the planet teaching, lectured, keynoted, keynoted to the FBI, all kinds of stuff.


Doland White:

And I went all right, I know nothing about marketing. And by the way, I'm a technologist and you marketer guys, we don't need you in our lives. So I ended up in my role. I was the chief technology officer for the company for 88 days. On the 88th day, they called me and said, let's do a performance review. I went in thinking, I'm done, they're done with me. And they said we're really tired of you complaining. Why don't you just run it, president and CEO of a very successful digital marketing firm with minimal knowledge about what digital marketing was all about and all of the aspects around marketing? So I literally went through a little over a course of four years.


Doland White:

I got my doctorate from the school of hard knocks.


Tim Fitzpatrick:

Right. That's the best kind.


Doland White:

I tell you, man, it's so cool because then I learned a lot about marketing, what works, what doesn't work of people. Met some really, really great people, obviously met you and met some really great people through the process. But still kept the acumen as a business leader and as a CEO. So I had my fair share of good decisions and my fair share of not so good decisions, messed up a couple of things.


Doland White:

And then about this time last year met with the board, the founders of the company, and said I think you guys are in a great position. This is a perfect opportunity I think, for me to leave you where you are and let's stay friends and we'll keep working together. And I still interact with them on some projects. I'm going to start my own consultancy and take what I've learned from all of the things I do, package it all together and go out and consult with other organizations. So I started my own consultancy just in time for coronavirus and it's been a really interesting adventure through this whole thing. So, so I have to say about businesses in the current state, but probably more history than anybody needs to know about my life. I'm married, five kids, four grandkids, live in LA. I'm a musician as well. And so I get to use both sides of my brain. So it's fun.


Tim Fitzpatrick:

That's awesome. When we're consultants, that's what we're doing. We're pulling on all of our experiences to help people grow, get more efficient, solve problems within their business. So that's awesome. So let's get into it. So what are the top two to three things that businesses should be thinking about in this COVID-19 business environment, which is obviously a lot different than we're used to and it's the uncharted territory?


Doland White:

Yeah. That's a really big question. And one of the things that I think that's important for anybody that's listening or anybody that's in business, and it doesn't matter whether you're a business owner or you're leading a team or where you are in that process, we either own the whole business or we own segments at business. So one of the things that have really been on my mind lately is if you're in that role, you need to be thinking critically about making it easy to engage your clients and we talked about that pre-Coronavirus a lot. Make it easy and they should be able to find stuff in seven clicks and all the rules.


Doland White:

But it's a different conversation now because people are freaked out, but 35% of the workforce that got sent home does not want to go back to the office. Just don't want to go back because they either don't trust it. They've watched CNN or Fox News or MSNBC. And they've seen the ticker tape go by for months and months and months, and months and months. And so there's a PTSD thing going on for lots and lots of things. I read an article a couple of days ago about the drug Zoloft, which is an antidepressant drug. We're actually out of that drug now. It's now an allocation. There are so many people that are freaked out.


Doland White:

So when you're thinking about your business, step back and think about not only how do I make it easy for people to come to me, because your customer they're off. We sent 7.5 billion people to their bedroom. So how do you make it easy for that client or customer to come work with you or find your service or leverage your service in a reduced stress manner and with really, really great clarity? I think that's the very first thing you have to think about. So you have to reinvent yourself when you think about your services and we've talked about those kinds of things before. You have to step back and say, well, what I may have done here is not going to be applicable here, pieces may be. But how do we make it easy for people to come work with me? How do I do that? Add even more value and by the way, and that goes for employees and clients, by the way.


Tim Fitzpatrick:

Absolutely. In some ways, how we deliver our products and services has become different. It depends on the industry. This is impacting some people a lot more than others when it comes to how they deliver. But yeah, I totally agree with you.


Doland White:

Yeah. It's an interesting thing. You say that because this is an example, one of my clients is an events company and as an events company, it basically got stopped.


Tim Fitzpatrick:

It's gone.


Doland White:

So your words like wall pivot, most people go, what's a pivot.


Tim Fitzpatrick:

Yeah. It's a buzzword.


Doland White:

Exactly. Exactly. What's the other one. One of my favorites is, well, the paradigm has changed. Awesome. That's cool. It's like using, it's like, it's a $3 word it's like using bifurcate in a sentence. See how many times you can say bifurcate in the meeting, but it's really interesting. So you do have to step back and think about reinventing yourself and in doing that, one of the things that you should be thinking about is resiliency. Toilet paper's probably a great example. When this first all started, remember back in February and March, when everything went to heck in a handbasket and everybody got sent home. The very first thing that they bought was toilet paper. We never need it, but by golly, that's the very first thing that went.


Doland White:

And so that supply chain broke. It broke everywhere. So when you think about your business, we need to think about your resiliency. How do I build resiliency in my business? And what do I do to ensure that if X happens, if Corona comes back in September, October, I mean, we don't know what we don't know yet? We've learned that from science, that science changes every day, between eight and five, it's a new science. And we are friends at the CDC walk back things that they say, it's like, well, it lives on cardboard. Actually it doesn't live on cardboard. Need a mask? You don't need a mask, but you should wear one if you feel better. And so there are all those things that go on.


Doland White:

And by the way, wear a mask, just for safety's sake, just wear one. But so building resiliency I think, which is one of the things that is important for the folks that listen to your content, and not that from you and what you talk about from Rialto, it's the resiliency has to be, you need to think of lines of business that create sustainability. This means you've got to market smarter. If you weren't digital before, there's a lot of things that go into the word digital. But if you weren't thinking about moving to digitalization, another buzzword in the industry, if you weren't thinking about that and how it applies to your business, by the way, because it's different. Everybody's just a little different. So if you're not doing that, then you're not building any resiliency. And a lot of what I'm seeing out there, the companies that vaporized through this whole process and we're losing, I think the statistic was 145 small businesses a day in the United States close their doors.


Tim Fitzpatrick:

Yep.


Doland White:

It's like seven or eight businesses an hour.


Tim Fitzpatrick:

Yeah. It's crazy.


Doland White:

And they don't come back and there are various sizes of small. If you're not building in that resiliency and part of the resiliency is you've got to build in lines of digital strategies to support that, which also makes it easier for your clients and customers to engage you.


Tim Fitzpatrick:

Right? No doubt.


Doland White:

If they are not comfortable sitting in your restaurant, make it easier for them to order online, make it easier for them to get to you. If you're a rental yard, make it easier for them to come to see your assets. Make it easier for them to rent online and you take it to them. So you need to rethink some of those. A buddy of mine was telling me about a restaurant that he goes to all the time. He lives in a little tiny town. He says where he lives, there are only beers bears in his house. So when he went to the restaurant, he sat down and they've been there a thousand times, there was no menu. So he called the person over that he knew and said, where's my menu. And they said, well, actually see that little cube on the table, take your phone and go like ... on the QR code ...


Tim Fitzpatrick:

And they got the menu. Yeah.


Doland White:

And I got to thinking about that. There's like one, how cool is that? Because you may or may not want to touch the menu. And when you think about, from the restaurant's perspective, the resiliency in that is, if my supply chain is disrupted and I can't get bok choy or chicken, something, I can change my menu and I can do it instantaneously on the fly. And I don't have to stand in front of my clients and say, Oh I'm out of that. And wait for the next run at the printer. And so there's lots and lots of things. To build resiliency.


Tim Fitzpatrick:

So we've got, make it easy, resiliency.


Doland White:

You're resilient. And probably the last thing is to think smaller, faster. There's a guy, his name is Jim Quick. Jim teaches people how to remember stuff, a really interesting guy. And he's got this thing it's called S3. I heard it a few weeks ago and I love it because I love mnemonics because it makes it easier for you to remember stuff. But S3 takes simple, small steps.


Tim Fitzpatrick:

That's it.


Doland White:

And focus on what can I do today? What can I do next week? What can I do next month? Keep your vision for where you want to go. But we don't know what we don't know right now. So every day, just take simple, small steps. What do I do? And prioritize based on those, prioritize for impact.


Tim Fitzpatrick:

I love that. I think too when you focus on the simple, small steps, it helps prevent overwhelm. If you think about the larger picture, it's so easy to just get lost and just be like, Oh my God, how the hell am I going to do this? Whereas if you just break it down into those simple, small steps, you're taking action. It's that little action that builds upon itself and will get you where you want to go.


Doland White:

Yeah. It's interesting. You say that because it's less overwhelming. There's the old saying, don't try to eat the elephant. There are all these old sayings, but it really is. And there's this thing that happens psychologically. If you give yourself a daily win and just focusing on I know where I'm going. I think I know where I'm going. Could all change. But I think I at least know the direction I'm going, but the steps I need to do or here are the steps, here's what I have to do today. Today I've got to invent a QR code and put it inside of a plastic cube and put it on the table. That's a win.


Tim Fitzpatrick:

Yep. I agree.


Doland White:

That's a win. Tomorrow I can learn how to create a PDF because I don't know how to make a PDF. That's a win. The next day I need to engage a trusted friend to help me look at the digital aspects, the marketing aspects of my business. How do I clarify my message so people understand who I am and what I do? How do I make it easy for stuff? It goes back to that whole thing about being easy. Just simple, small steps that are done. So if you think of that, come up with three things, it just makes it easy because everybody's freaked out. And building resiliency. And then just, I just think S3. I got a Superman sign on my wall back over in the corner. Just think of that S and just think of S3, just simple, small steps every day, every day.


Tim Fitzpatrick:

It's awesome. I love that. So we talked about what they should be thinking about, what can they be doing right now?


Doland White:

Well, it's a great question, Tim. I've had fun and been blessed the last month and a half or so. I got pulled into these conversations. So I've ended up on this global panel with venture capitalists and talking about venture investments and COVID-19 and businesses and all this hoo-ha. Which is great because I learn as much as I get to give on those calls. There's really, really just amazing people. And so as a business person, one of the things that you need to be doing right now is you need to be smart about focusing on liquidity. And this is a time in the US, we have the payroll protection plan, the PPP we've had two rounds of that.


Doland White:

Because the first one, we had some unexpected results and then we had the second one. And now they're talking about a third one, maybe in July, maybe not. We'll see. But even knowing that you can't depend on things like that for your business, if they occur, awesome. And if you can leverage them awesome, but you can't count on that for your business success. So focus on liquidity. When you focus on liquidity, you want to make sure that you're not incurring debt. And that means focus on making sure, pay your bills, go talk to your bank, do those kinds of things. But there are other things you can do. Like it's a great time.


Doland White:

If you have a brick and mortar establishment, go talk to your landlord about better rent. Because they're trying to figure out how they're going to survive as well. And they may be willing to work with you for a few months. Go renegotiate your insurance, go look at other ways where you can impact your liquidity stance by reducing costs. It's not all about making more money, but when you're focusing on liquidity, the one thing you've got to be really careful about is don't focus on liquidity at the cost of generating revenue.


Tim Fitzpatrick:

I love that.


Doland White:

So don't get frugal and go, well, I'm not going to invest in upgrading my marketing stance, because I got to spend money to do that. That's actually not what's going to happen. What happens is we think about ease, resiliency, and S3, those three things. It bolts onto the side of that because you need to be making proper investments in what you do in your business. And one of them is you got to have a really clear message. I mean, you got to be really clear in the old way of delivering your message.


Tim Fitzpatrick:

It's changed.


Doland White:

Yeah. That's so different now. I mean, that's just for lots and lots and lots of reasons. I mean, we're in this world now and you see it, dude, when we're on LinkedIn, as an example. LinkedIn, it's great for my business because a lot of B2B stuff that I do and on LinkedIn, the volume of noise on LinkedIn went way up. Because of the American workforce, a lot of them became unemployed and a lot of them left.


Doland White:

And so there's a lot of new consultants out there who started their business 10 days ago who are coming to help you. And sometimes it's like hiring a budget plumber, careful for what you ask for. There are real people, but just my word of caution is gray hair, is just be careful what you, what you're looking at. But make sure when you think of it, like that you're, you're investing in ways that don't impact revenue and you're focused on how do I grow that stream? What are the smart things I can do that live in that S3 box, that gets me further down the line? And then what does that one week, one month, six-month strategy look like to get to the end.


Tim Fitzpatrick:

I put out some content a while ago that touched on this exactly. As we were talking about where do you cut? Right. And how do you cut the right things, which is exactly what you're talking about? Cutting, your marketing is like biting the hand that feeds you. But it really honed in on, yes, you may need to furlough or lay off some employees, but the successful companies through times like this, that is not their main focus. Their main focus in cutting and saving is actually a focus on operational efficiency. Because then as our business grows, those operational efficiency efficiencies make us even more money.


Doland White:

Yeah. It's interesting. That's, that's really, really true. When I was CEO of a marketing company, we used to go through a quarterly thing and we'd go every quarter, we'd look at all the stuff we're spending money on because it's surprising how quickly you accumulate stuff. Looking at the list. And you start looking at it and going, well, what is this? Oh, I bought that a year ago and signed up for a subscription. Well, we've been paying 57 bucks a month for 18 months, but does anybody use it? We're not even sure what it does. Okay. So can we stop that? And then let's take that $57 and let's move that over here and put it into something that makes sense. And it happens in our lives. I can't tell you how many little iTunes things that I have every now and then I have to stop and go stop it. So yeah.


Tim Fitzpatrick:

Looking at those recurring expenses. We're so used to having recurring, there's a lot of services now that are recurring, looking at those just to make sure. Because a lot of us, we're not looking at that stuff every month, but we really should be. We should be looking at those all the time, but certainly, now it's more important than it ever has been. So I get that. Let's transition into the new normal and we're obviously taking out our crystal balls, but what's your feeling on what this new normal is going to be like for a lot of us?


Doland White:

Yeah. It's interesting. I think the way I think about the new normal I'll use another event. So we'll use 9/11 as an event. And I watched the Seinfeld the other night and George went to the gate to get Jerry at the airport and I'm watching this 19, whatever it was, 90 something. And I'm watching the show and I'm thinking, wow. I remember when we used to be able to go to the gate and pick people up. It's what you did, you didn't sit. He went to the gate and then 9/11 occurred, which was a dramatic event. And then post 9/11, we have a new approach to how we do things. We're that way with coronavirus. You think about it. There are laws of business that occur here, pre. And then there are laws that occur post that remain pretty consistent.


Doland White:

Planes are still going to fly. There's still going to be passengers. There won't be a middle seat passenger, but there's still stuff going on. I still see jets in the sky going overhead. So that's consistent. So there are consistencies between both sides of that wall. And I think the new normals, you have got to be careful with that. Because we don't know what that is all the way is yet. But I think from a business perspective, from a new normal, there's a couple of things we've got to figure out. We need to become okay while we're on the path to this with being imperfect. We've got to be okay with not every decision's going to be a good one. And we got to be okay with wins and losses. There's an old Zen saying, fall six, rise seven. And so we've got to be okay with that as we move this path of the new normal and we've got to keep that mindset of being agile.


Doland White:

And I think a lot of time what happens is we move into these places. We get complacent and we slide back into going to the grocery store and buying a pack of Oreos. And then we can go home and we'd eat our Oreos. I've never been guilty of that by the way. And then I recently was told to stop that. So I think there's that part of let's make sure on the path of new normal let's not become complacent. Let's keep this S3 mindset going. I think we need to keep that going. And it's just, in general, a good business practice. And I think the new normal is going to be really focused on ease of interacting with our clients and tighter partnerships.


Doland White:

So we're going to see relationships change I think, between client to provider restaurant or wherever it is, and then a restaurant to their vendors. I think we're going to see a much, much tighter collaboration and the lines are going to come up where it's going to be more of a focus on mutual success. We can't succeed as islands. And I think the pre COVID mentality was, I can do this. And if I don't like my supplier, I'll go get a new supplier, come up with how it is anymore.


Tim Fitzpatrick:

It's not quite as easy to change as it used to be.


Doland White:

No. And you need those relationships. We all succeed together and yeah, your company is a for-profit company. My company is a for-profit company and there's a reason why you run for-profit companies. We take care of our families, take care of our clients. We have goals and aspirations for our lives, roles, and aspirations for our teams. And that helps us accomplish those things. And do good in society. So I think as part of it in the new normal, we're going to see tighter coupling between vendor, supplier, a client in a tighter stream. And in that stream, we're going to have to get comfortable with that pretty quickly.


Doland White:

I think one of the other things on the VC side, a lot of things that I hear on the venture capitalist side is they're looking for business resiliency and they're looking for hardcore resiliency. They're looking for a company in New York and they take boilers in old apartment buildings and retrofit the boiler. So the boilers not only make heat for the building, but they also make electricity for the building. So the building becomes a freestanding electrical unit and all of the units get electricity for virtually free. so there's a lot of different aspects of resiliency. And I think that's going to become much, much, much, much more important as time goes on.


Tim Fitzpatrick:

Resiliency, innovation. I mean, what you're talking about there is innovation. That's a great example of innovation.


Doland White:

Yeah. I thought that was brilliant. Of course, I'm not a New Yorker, but it's like I'm in LA where I'm more worried about air conditioning than anything else, but it was really interesting to them because it's like, that's really cool to be able to provide that resiliency to the people there and save them money and make it easier. And for the cost about the same as the rate of the same boiler, to be able to do that.


Tim Fitzpatrick:

I think too, there's a saying out there the only constant life has changed. We've got to now more than ever, we need to be able to embrace change rather than fight it, be resilient. Because like we talked about, we're guessing what the new normal is. We don't really know. We just got to go with it and be open to the change because the change is going to happen whether we like it or not.


Doland White:

Oh yeah, yeah. Yeah. We're all on a trapeze with no net.


Tim Fitzpatrick:

Yeah. There you go. That's it. Yeah. This is awesome. Well, this has been great information, Doland. I really do appreciate you taking the time. Where can people learn more about you?


Doland White:

The easiest thing to do is go to my website and thank you very much. If you go to the website, you can find lots of stuff about articles I've written and blogs and ways to schedule me and lots of different kinds of information, a bit more about where I'm from and what I do, but I would suggest it if anybody's interested, start there. And my email address is up there as well. So I try to do what I teach and talk about it. Try to make it easy for people to find me. So find me there and you can reach me in a matter of seconds.


Tim Fitzpatrick:

Awesome. Well, that is fantastic. So thank you again for being here and thank you so much for tuning in. Remember, I am Tim Fitzpatrick with Realto Marketing, marketing your business shouldn't be a challenge. All you need is a plan. So until next time, take care and we'll talk soon.


Doland White:

Thanks, man.


Tim Fitzpatrick:

Yep. You bet. Thank you for listening to the Rialto Marketing podcast. If you'd like to learn more about us and how we help businesses grow or simply check out the show notes, visit us on the web at www.rialtomarketing.com


Connect With Doland White


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About the Author Tim Fitzpatrick

Tim Fitzpatrick is the President of Rialto Marketing. At Rialto Marketing, we help small businesses & entrepreneurs eliminate the confusion of marketing by focusing on the fundamentals. As a marketing partner, we help clients put in place and manage a simple marketing plan so they can grow. Marketing your business shouldn't be a challenge. All you need is a plan.

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