In an economic crisis like the one we’re in now, the strength and health of your business is tested. With a strong foundation and good cash buffer, you will weather it and come out the other side with a good story to tell.
Every decision you make for your business is part of the foundation you’re laying for your future. This is a comfort because as you meet today’s challenges with sound and smart decisions, they will carry you for many years to come.
We know now that consumers are interested in the way that businesses are responding to our current situation. If your business has a strong reputation for its values, then you’ve already positioned yourself in a positive way “ essentially giving your business a head start over other companies that are pivoting not only their operations but also their values to focus on the consumer and their employees. “¯
Now is the time I’m grateful for having made ethical decisions over the years that built a strong groundwork for my company.
We’re a network of highly professional wedding musicians playing 350 events per year and growing. Our headquarters is in New Jersey, but we book events throughout the United States and hire excellent local players.
In our industry, we appear on various websites where customers can look at profiles of music companies side by side. Some of these websites offer a booking process, and their agreement is that if the customer makes contact with us through their site, we should complete the booking through their site. Then the website receives a commission on the booking.
It would be easy to avoid the commission fee by asking the customer to head over to our site to do the booking. But for a dozen years, we have instructed customers to complete the booking on the other site if that is where the initial contact was made. The result is that we have developed a strong presence on that site for many years, which also boosts our general SEO as that site’s SEO is strong. So, today, if the customer searches for “violinist nj,” the first result might be this company’s page, and the first listing on that page is us. This has been a huge boost for our business “ born out of a decision based on ethics.”¯
Another easy shortcut in our field is the widespread availability of illegally copied sheet music. If you know how to Google it, you can find a wealth of sheet music in a matter of seconds. It’s like walking through a convenience store with nobody watching for theft. Many people don’t know this, but it’s not legal to make copies of copyrighted sheet music or to post images of it online.”¯
This temptation is compounded by the idea that it would not only save us time and money but would prevent a cost to the customer. It could be presented as a “perk” or accommodation.
What are the motivations for respecting copyright law? In addition to the strength of ethics, there is a significant business advantage for us. In our field, song variety and song choice are key. More and more, customers are looking for ways to individualize their event (especially weddings). By letting our customers know that their song is new to us and no one else has asked for it, and also that there is work involved in preparing it, the value is clear to them.
I find that customers are more than happy to purchase new music. It’s a win for everyone “ they get something special and unique for their wedding, we get a new song and appropriate pay for the work involved, and the songwriters are paid for their intellectual property. “¯
That’s an example of the kind of value that gets people excited about our company. We rely on past customer reviews to attract new customers, and these reviews consistently tell the story of how Sweet Harmony performed their special song. That’s what our customers want, so it ultimately drives up sales.
There will be times you are bullied or even attacked for the stands you take. And there will always be temptations to take shortcuts, to skip the principled process with the belief that no one will know.
But when we have to get through times like this, we’ll be grateful we made good decisions when it counted.