4 Digital Lessons The Coronavirus Has Already Taught Us. Lesson #2

Lesson #2: How To Pivot Successfully During A Pandemic: A Conversation With Jason Ilstrup

Jason Ilstrup, the President of Downtown Madison, Inc., an advocacy organization established 40 years ago that supports businesses, residents, and organizations in Madison, Wisconsin’s thriving downtown and Capitol district, is much like the community he advocates for; energized, animated, variegated, and warmhearted.

An attorney by training and a “connector” by design, Ilstrup was thrown the ultimate curve-ball, as many of us were when the Coronavirus upended DMI’s method, but not its mission. As an organization that conducts a meeting or holds an event almost every day, moving to a virtual existence couldn’t seem more at odds with their ideology.

Unless that ideology is rooted in resourcefulness.

But don’t take my word on that; listen to Jason’s conversation and you’ll hear confidence in his voice, ideology in his heart, resourcefulness in his mind, and a complete understanding of how important technology becomes in pandemic communications including connectivity, information exchange, and how DMI brings hundreds of people together virtually when the directive is to stay apart.

If you’re a business executive, then more than 60% of you would prefer to watch Jason’s video than read my text. But for the 39% of you that still want to read, here are the takeaways Jason gives back to us.

  • Pivot quickly to a virtual environment because this is the exact instance when people need you more than ever; they need connections.
  • Provide as many virtual resources as you can to your customers, members, and prospective segments; but you’re going to need the right technology and digital platform to be able to do that.
  • Use your website to deliver the information people need, and create linking strategies for people to gain access to that information.
  • Be robust in your website, your technology, and your communication. If you don’t have that potency and flexibility, you’ll never be able to pivot when you need to.

Of course, we’d like to thank Jason for the “plug” and that bit of shameless self-promotion. But the fact remains that when George Santayana, a man of letters, said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”, he was using that aphorism as a cautionary tale. Regrettably, there will be other pandemics, epidemics, natural catastrophes, and man-made tragedies, and in all of those horrible instances, the ability to effectively communicate, at a moment’s notice, without missing a beat, can be the difference that makes a difference.

Next Up, Lesson #3 – Your Content and Content Management System Will Be Your Friend Or Your Foe In This Type Of Crisis.

Tom Marks is a sales and marketing thought leader, speaker, and author. He has written Of Socrates, Plato & Aristotle: How Thought Leadership Drives Stronger Sales, Marketing, and Corporate Ethics. He is also the creator of The 21st Century Disciplines of Market Leadership. Tom is the President of TMA+Peritus and a 66-time winner of the American Advertising Awards, he can be reached at