How to Survive the Pandemic without Being an Ambulance Chaser

In case you missed the Netflix Original Better Call Saul, “ambulance chasing” refers to lawyers who follow ambulances to the emergency room to drum up new clients. It’s also used to describe any business that shows up the moment disaster strikes with their business card in hand. 

Right now, there’s a fine line between opportunity and opportunism. We’re all looking for ways to survive this crisis. But whether you’re a business owner, marketer, or a salesperson, it’s difficult to sell at the moment without coming across as a bit Slippin’ Jimmy. 

So, here are the five things we’re keeping front of mind at Parisleaf: 

Genuinely give a sh*t

People who are hard selling at the moment are adding to the trauma. Please take a few moments before picking up the phone or writing an email to see the world through the lens of the other person. You have to care about someone and want to help them, especially now. That, and consumers can smell your snake oil from a mile away. 

In our sector, the Bureau of Digital is a great example. They are offering free insights and advice for agency owners. They’re putting on webinars and having super engaging conversations on Slack. They’ve managed to become one of the highlights of my workday. 

I’d also like to shout out to a sushi restaurant here in Gainesville called Dragonfly. One of their perks is that employees get a free daily meal. When the crisis happened, they had to furlough many of their staff. The owner said he would continue giving them a free meal for as long as he could afford to, regardless of whether the staff is working or not. Things have gone so well for them, that he even brought back some of the original furloughed employees (tastes like good karma).

On that note….Invest in good karma 

Push the relationship, not the sale. Right now, we’re in regular contact with our clients to give them our time and advice. When new projects surface, we’re taking them on, but this isn’t the focus of the conversation. As one of our designers, Kendyl, said: “Now is the time for investing in good karma.” 

If you’re in regular contact, that means a client is thinking about you. I’m speaking weekly with some of our clients to give them free coaching, consulting, ideas, and advice on ways to survive this mess. There’s no agenda other than to be helpful. In a few instances, this has led to new projects just because we’ve been part of the conversation. But that’s nowhere near our primary focus. We want to help our clients survive for the long haul, and sure, hopefully, they’ll remember who helped get them there. 

Be useful (starting with emails)

Are you more interested in selling or helping? You know the answer within seconds of opening an email or newsletter. Two metrics are on the rise at the moment: open rates and unsubscribes. If you’re a resource and a support system for other individuals and businesses, I promise that you’ll experience the former. 

I received the best spam email last week from a business I didn’t know. They sent me a free resource and asked if there was anything they could do for me. It was friendly, conversational, super genuine, and helpful…so good in fact that my assistant asked: “Do you know this person?” There was an equally impressive follow-up that nailed how to do a cold email:

On a similar note, a few of our clients are planning to switch banks and accountants when things settle down because of a similar experience. So, make sure you’re being useful all around, as well. Not just in emails.

Hang outside your usual circle

Figure out the needs of people who can’t (yet) afford you. There are a lot of small businesses and individuals that are hurting right now. Find ways to reach out to them or adapt to make your offering more affordable. Even if they’re not a customer today, they could still be a brand evangelist or a future customer. 

There are many restaurants and food start-ups in Gainesville that I love, even if they’re not obvious clients for Parisleaf. Some are doing exceptionally well, even with the current challenges. There’s a new bagel shop that has a line down the street (spaced six feet apart, naturally). There are also farms and bakeries that are doing quite well. 

But last week, I spoke to an entrepreneur who was experiencing the opposite. She recently started a new food brand and was struggling to build relationships with customers. I asked her what was going on and will be spending some time with her to help solve the woes of getting a new business off the ground. 

Lastly, publish content 

For most businesses, this is as close to selling as you can get without chasing ambulances. People need help all over the world. Consider publishing as much free content as you can afford to. Now is the time to launch that book or start that podcast you’ve been thinking about. As businesses, we need to think about how we can extend the value that’s usually reserved for clients to a wider audience.

For instance, webinars are huge right now. I’m a big fan of webinars because, unlike in-person events, people can drop in and out without feeling rude. It’s easier to multi-task and be in a Webinar because we don’t have the distraction of being at the office. There are a lot of famous people who depend on big-ticket engagements that can no longer travel. Invite them to share their experience with you, then publish that content to your network. Be creative in how you create content. 

To sum up…

Here’s a simple etiquette guide to avoid being an ambulance chaser:

  • Genuinely care
  • Figure out what you’re an expert at
  • Identify the problems that apply to your customers
  • Give free advice
  • Publish content

Pay it forward (and one day it might just come back). 

P.S. We’re giving more specific communications advice to businesses who are struggling to navigate this crisis, so pleeease reach out if you have any questions. Chad[at] I’m here to help. We’re in this together.