Business Superhero: Natural Disaster Planning To Ensure Your Business Doesn’t Die When The Lights Go Out

Last month, the Frankenstorm Hurricane Sandy devastated the NJ Shore.

My town lost power for 10 days but because of careful business planning, the email/online aspect of my business continued to thrive.

As you might imagine…this was no accident.  I focused upon the social media aspects and designed a blueprint that mapped out:

  • How to schedule 14 days of your online networking posts (WordPress, Tumblr, Facebook Fanpage, etc.) 3 days before a storm hits.
  • How to find up-to-the-minute disaster information so your network can check up on loved ones and again, be inspired by you.
  • How to write your daily emails 1 day before a storm hits to take advantage of these 14 days of posts, thus keeping your audience updated and also inspiring them in the process.
  • How to structure those emails so you receive as much profit as possible.
  • How to prepare your family for the storm and what to get to ensure that even if power doesn’t return, you’re still safe and sound.

I also researched applications for offline brick and mortar businesses as well.   So let’s begin!

3 Days Before The Storm

3 days before the storm hits your area, you want to queue content for your network (email lists, blog readers, Tumblr fans, etc.).

I chose to queue 7 days of content but would you believe – 9 days after Hurricane Sandy, my house STILL didn’t have power. WAH! For the next storm, I’m going to prepare at least 2 weeks of content.

There are several ways to prepare content! For me, “content” meant

  • Planning 6 emails every day

But let’s take that a bit further, shall we?

My usual method of email marketing includes sharing fun tips and resources with my network. Generally, those will be blog posts I find online, pin to Pinterest or highlight on Facebook, and then direct my readers there.

During Hurricane Sandy, these were:

Notice the first one, Frankenstorm Disaster Planning.

I scheduled that for Day 3 after the power outage. How did I know there would be power outages?

It’s called “playing the odds!” 🙂 I figured that IF by chance a miracle happened and hell froze over and started producing iced coffee, I could always update things later on. 🙂 Turns out, I didn’t have to.

But!

Do you see how the post was targeted, not to ME, but to my NETWORK?

That’s one of the biggest takeaways you MUST internalize. Certainly making money is grand and wondrous during a power outage – I did that myself.

More importantly, however, is becomine a Valued Resource to your readers.

When you continuously showcase good things for your readers during times of trouble, you become MORE than a marketer – you position yourself as a leader, a doer, someone on whom others rely.

Remember that thought, I’ll be touching upon it later.

So!

3 days before the storm hits, you want to queue up 2 weeks’ worth of content.

If you’re like me and you email market, you can refer to these 2 weeks’ worth of content in your emails as well!

There are several ways to queue up content.

You can use a WordPress blog and queue like so:

You can use a Tumblr blog and queue like so:

You can use your Facebook Fanpage and queue like so:

Drop me a line if you’re interested in the work scheduler.

Remember. Your goal here is to ensure that even when power goes bye-bye, your presence online continues.

Now, exactly what should you write about?

So glad you asked!

Here’s my secret recipe for finding what to write!

In my Google Reader, I have 100s of feeds from within various and sundry niches including Facebook, Social Media, Marketing and the like.

When I log on, it looks like:

Snap760

So whenever I need to write a blog post, I can get inspiration from the thousands of articles at my fingertips.

Humor sites are also grand to write about – one of my favs is http://Nickyitis.com . I can easily slant any of the comics to marketing…. it’s been a grand mainstay in my blogging posts.

Don’t angst over the quality of your writing. Remember, these posts are simply quick, easy—to-read thingees so your audience is reassured you’re still operational … and inspirational.

Here’s some quick resources for being inspired via Google Reader.

Now, once you have a topic, and before you start to write your blog post, be sure to add a bit about your current situation like so:

Hey there,

It’s Wednesday afternoon and ideally, I still have power!

Probably not though….check on my Facebook page.

But none-the-less, I know you’re looking forward to the daily spirit-lifting I love providing, so enjoy…..

or

Hey there!

Most likely, I’m still without power thanks to Hurricane Sandy (thank you Hurricane Sandy!) and hopefully have managed to survive well with my 4 kids, 2 mooses, flocks of Twitter Budgies and Mooseband.

But even if I don’t have Internet connectivity…I still want to ensure you have your reading pleasure!

So I scheduled this on Monday morning:

or

Howdy!

And how the heck are you today?  I’m hopefully getting power SOON during this aftermath of Hurricane Sandy – you would not believe how it ate up NJ!

are the links I found on Monday morning to showcase where you can get the latest…hope you enjoy!..

or

Hey there,

It’s Friday and ideally some year…power will be returned to me!

As you might remember, I was in the path of Hurricane Sandy….and yep, did the Jersey shore ever get it BIGTIME!

You can see uploaded videos at:

Hurricane Sandy Uploaded Videos!

  • Insane, right?

Which brings me to the point of this post…

See what I did?

Even though I myself didn’t have power….I was able to provide links for updated disaster information.

Notice the last link:

It’s easy to predict future disaster updates via Youtube!

Simple visit http://www.youtube.com and search on

  • (disaster name) (location)

and then sort by “upload date”.

Ie,

It looks like this.

 Snap762

Scheduling out your content takes time! When you’re done, it’s time to move to scheduling your eMail marketing. Move next to:

1 Day Before Storm: Business

One or two days before the storm, it’s time to schedule out your eMail marketing.

And remember those earlier blog posts you made on either your WP site, your Tumblr blog or your Facebook Fan Page?

You can refer to the blog posts that you had queued like so – here’s exactly what I did.

Day after hurricane morning:

Morning!

It’s  Wednesday morning here in LingLand and by  now, the Hurricane should be off to Canada and the like.  I SO hope those in its path are okay –  here’s a Canadian link I found for y’all.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2012/10/29/canada-hurricane-sandy-frankenstorm.html

And Im pretty certain that Halloween will be canceled here in NJ (especially if power is out!!).  Ah well, will have to make my kids their own Halloween…reminds me of the 2001 Halloween where everyone was frightened of terrorists so I created a “town” inside my house and let the kids go trick or treating that way.  

Memories…..but I digress.

Power. 

This is the 3rd day my business has been going on autopilot, so yep….

My Thursday evening update:

EVenin,

It’s  Thursday evenin’ here.

Yay!

I’m pretty certain I’m still without power but hey, even if not…..I’ve proactively created my 5 blog posts and my 5 FB fan page posts and my 28  emails…..might as well see how they end up working! …

My Friday evening update:

EVenin’!

It’s  Friday evening here and guess what. 

For an hour, I got Internet connectivity….yay!  Needless to say, life has been very character-building in LingLand – the Jersey Shore was utterly obliterated.  Look  here at the currently video updates:

http://www.youtube.com/results?search_type=videos&search_query=hurricane+sandy+nj&search_sort=video_date_uploaded

http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=hurricane+sandy+nj&oq=hurricane+sandy+nj

  I am just sooo grateful that my family and friends are alright – I live on the top of a hill and only had tree damage.

In other areas close by me, entire houses were swallowed  up by the ocean…..so sad.  The Amusement Park in Seaside Heights is under water:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jVd9ys1garA

Mind-numbing it is….

 

At the bottom of my emails, I always included the link to my blog posts and the like.

However, I DO want you to notice Friday’s email above.

I was able to grab Internet for an hour at a friends’ house … and used that to CHANGE my queued post.

Ie, I was able to include realtime links to the disaster.

What I SHOULD have also included were disaster relief links too so my readers could follow up on their loved ones. I did that myself in my Facebook fanpage.

  • Speaking of Facebook, make sure you change your timeline picture to and include links to something that can help rescue efforts/survivors.

Here’s what I used:

Snap763

 

You can design your own Timeline cover over at

For the description, go to Google and search for:

  • (disaster name) updates

ie,

or

 

Once you are done with scheduling your updates, it’s time to take care of your personal safety too. Move now to:

Day 1 Before Storm – Personal

And here is the REAL benefit to this post to you as a real live person!!!

I sooo wish I had done the following before Hurricane Sandy! PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE!!!!!!!! DO THE FOLLOWING.

PLEASE.

1.) Make sure your gas tank is full. If you have a megastorm hit, not only will you lose power but so will your town. No power, no gas stations. No gas stations, no gas.

2.) Make sure you have non-perishables for food. Hit Costco for beef jerky etc. If you can cook up a storm and store it outside if its cold enough, this is Very Smart. Do it.

3.) Go to the dollar store and get bunches of:

* Candles

* Matches

* Lighter-thingees (ie, the thingee that makes a spark. I was lucky – I still had gas in
house, so I could still light the stove).

* Water. I simply washed out all the recycle containers and filled those with water.
It worked grand.

Additionally, battery-operated fans for cooling and dehydrated foods that will not spoil are must-haves as well.  SPECIAL tip – even if you lose power, you might still have gas (and so can operate your stove).  Make sure to cook everything in the freezer before it goes bad; it makes for a memorable grand home party that will go a long way to dispelling angst and worry.

candlelight

Other resources are:

4.) Write down the following phone numbers.

  • All your local libraries so you’ll have a place to go once THEY have power and you do not.
  • All your local Barnes and Nobles. Same reason.
  • Hotel 800 numbers so if you decide to trek to a place WITH power, you’ll be able to call.
  • Police/rescue.

And remember these links:

STOP right now and search for your company’s power outage page, ie,

(company) power outage

like

That returns you

You can post that to your FB timeline like so:

Again, remember. You make the most money during storms not only by what you email market….but also by how helpful you are to your network. They will remember you!

Now you are ready for the storm!

Let’s now tackle:

When Power Returns

Snap764

Yep…that’s a gas line.  I was on it.

Now, ideally….power WILL return.

IDEALLY. 🙂 But there’s no guarantees.

For me, I’m currently writing this at my local Starbucks as it’s been now Day 10 without power….officially.

BUT! After 3 days or so, power DID return to my friends’ house (plus also the local community offered recharge stations too).

So! Ideally you will be able to at least access the Internet via your phone. When you do so, make sure to update your status so your friends don’t worry, add any resources you can and the like.

One thing remember – if you DO choose to leave for a hotel, do NOT put that on your status.

All you’d be doing, honestly, is alerting the nefarious that your home is unoccupied. I myself took my family to North Carolina from Saturday until Tuesday but made no mention of it online.

NOTE! Sometimes your smartphone will automatically update your FB profile with your location like so:

Snap765

es, that was a massive surprise to me. 🙂

Here are the updates I sent. Notice several things:

  • I am ALWAYS upbeat.
  • I ask for help from my readers to update others about the hurricane.
  • I thank folks.

As you read these updates, ask yourself…how can you use them for your own updates? How can you ensure your own personality shines thru?

What should you get out of these updates?

Remember…your network, your list, etc., cares about you. Notice how many people posted good wishes to me, coffee humor to my wall (I’ve branded myself with coffee), mentioned how inspirational I am……

It gets noticed. It gets shared. And when you do this yourself…your positive reputation grows as well.

On Tuesday afternoon, I was able to find a local Barnes and Noble, and updated my photos like so.

Snap767

I also made sure to update other images like:

Remember!

You want to always be an inspiration to your readers…you want to showcase that no matter what, you’re grateful (and rightly so!) for being given the chance to make due, survive, thrive, and succeed.

Woot!

And by putting into place all of the above steps….THAT’S how you ensure you can make easy profits even during the biggest Frankenstorm imaginable.

Nice!

Your next step now is to:

  • Take down phone numbers of your local libraries, hotel 800 numbers and emergency resources
  • Look at your weekly posting schedule, and mentally determine how you can blend in your blog posts, your FB Fan page posts, etc., to your automated schedule
  • Look at past promos to see what has delivered the most profits to you in the past…and promote them again
  • Get yourself comfortable with disaster prep, and run your family thru it.
  • Get yourself comfortable with scheduling daily emails in aWeber or GetResponse

And if you are running a Brick and Mortar business?

There are plenty of excellent Natural Disaster Preparedness guides including:

And that way, you now know that SHOULD a Frankenstorm hit…you don’t have to worry about your business. You now know how to make it deliver fantastic profits to you, even if you’re cooking dumplings by candlelight for the next 14 days.

Woot!

Grow strong,

Barbara Ling

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