2020 Recap: 10 of The Hardest Things To Grapple With This Year


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Table of Contents

2020 has presented some hard things to grapple with.

Rather than rattle off the obvious hard things like a global pandemic or racial inequities, we wanted to ask real people – professionals, business owners, and the person you see but never get to hear from – about the hardest things they’ve had to grapple with this past year. 

Let their insights serve as a recap to a year that many of us would like to put behind us. 

Here are 10 hard realities people faced in 2020.

  • Changing customer pain points
  • Losing daily in-person interactions
  • Closing the online communication gap
  • Balancing virtual life and real life
  • Disruption and client deadlines
  • Absence of celebration
  • Keeping up with physical health
  • No more holiday event season
  • Forgoing our annual offsite
  • Working from home (with or without kids)

Changing Customer Pain Points 

Trying to figure out how my target market’s needs and pain points changed. Being B2B, I had to be cognizant that some businesses shut down permanently, some had to do major pivots, and some had to change their own marketing messages so as to not offend anyone and to come across as compassionate and empathetic. It was important to put out the message that “I’m here to help you no matter how you’ve been affected by the pandemic.”

Giselle Aguiar, Digital Marketing Strategist and Consultant

Losing Daily In-Person Interactions

I’ve had a really hard time adjusting to not seeing people. I’m not having meetings with a colleague or potential client over coffee. I’m not leaving my house early to have breakfast and decompress before starting work (or going to breakfast with my family on the weekends – this has been the thing I miss most). As a technology company, people assume I have a great technical marketing apparatus in place. The reality, though, is that I’m just like other small businesses that also built much of their network and clientele through networking. Those in-person events will eventually return, but 2020 has really shown how important it is to have multiple marketing/sales channels.

Peter Adams, Ping! Development

Closing the Online Communication Gap

While there are so many issues in 2020, communicating during COVID really stands out. I recently did a survey that found while communication within a specific team is actually going quite well, it pointed out that communicating with others around the organization isn’t quite as strong. Conversations that used to happen in the hallway or lunchroom are gone. Out of sight truly does mean out of mind. Ramping up communication so that an organization can do more than just survive is going to be critical as we move into 2021.

Rick DeBruhl, Communication Consultant

Balancing Virtual Life and Real Life

Managing my work-from-home schedule along with finances, health, and spiritual wellness has been a struggle. I live in a state where businesses are constantly closed due to the governor’s orders. Some days I can go to the gym, other days I can’t. I’ll have coffee dates that get canceled and I can no longer meet up with friends. It’s learning to balance virtual and “real” life in an age where face-to-face interaction is hard to come by as easily.

Annika Ehrig, Whiteboard Geeks

Disruption and Client Deadlines

The two most difficult issues our firm has grappled with during 2020 is the disruption caused by outbreaks of the Coronavirus and meeting client deadlines. It is very difficult to maintain smooth, consistent operations when you are under a stay at home order or are quarantining because of an outbreak. Similarly, it is hard to meet client deadlines when your team is working remotely for the first time. Of course, you get by, but there is certainly a difference.

Robert Reder, Blythe Grace

Absence of Celebration

As a SaaS company that exclusively serves event professionals, it has been really difficult to grapple with how much events have changed, and that these changes may be long term. For the past decade, event style and execution have been increasingly esteemed in our society. In March, that was nearly erased. Event professionals are having to figure out ways to start over and rethink how events should be. People can’t put off getting married forever, but we are probably a few years away from 200+ events again. The good news is that events aren’t going anywhere. Celebration is a part of being human. We have always celebrated and we always will. It’s a good thing that creatives are attracted to the events industry because they are going to have to be creative in their solutions to keep everything legal and everyone safe. 

Karen Gordon, Goodshuffle Pro

Keeping Up With Physical Health

In 2020, many people have found it difficult to make time for themselves and their own well-being. Whether over-providing at work to avoid layoffs or helping children with online schooling, there’s definitely not a lot of time in the day to actually put a little work into ourselves. However, there is a direct correlation between how a person physically feels, and how they feel about themselves. So, I quickly found it imperative to keep up with my workout routine, watch the foods that I ate, and even set some time aside to de-stress. In the end, a person can’t be very productive if their mind is elsewhere, and we all need to be at our best going into 2021.

Amir Yazdan, GroMD

No More Holiday Event Season

For all the marketing and business development specialists, moving away from live networking events, especially during the holiday event season, has been the hardest thing to grapple with. We have now moved towards the enhancement and building of business relationships via ‘virtual holiday events’ and trying to develop business relationships that way.

Nina McCann, NAM

Forgoing Our Annual Offsite

Because our marketing team has been remote since I started hiring in my role as VP of Marketing in 2015, I’ve always had a particular eye for self-starters, knowing that they’re the type of person who doesn’t need an in-person manager to be looking over their shoulder to achieve great results. That being said, the biggest challenge for us has been forgoing our annual offsite, because so much valuable strategy has always come from that meeting. Normally we fly in our team from all over the country to meet up at our HQ in Knoxville for a few days, and we get so much out of it. So far, we’ve put in place a monthly content strategy roundtable just to keep the ideas flowing. I also recently hired a Content Director to formally plot a route forward. But it’s hard to substitute all the good ideas we would normally have from in-person activities. Hopefully in 2021, we can have an offsite meeting again.

Jake Rheude, Red Stag Fulfillment

Working from home (with or without kids)

Going remote was something virtually all businesses did, with some of us doing it better than others. As a CEO, one of my main job responsibilities this year was being there to support people during the transition and to offer solutions when people started to crack under the pressures of working from home. For me personally, braving remote work from my daughter’s bedroom with three young, attention-craving children was an experience I’ll never forget. It was hard. Luckily, like all things that were hard in 2020, most of us experienced similar challenges together. By being there to support one another – even the support from a complete stranger on Zoom – things became just a little easier to get through. 

Brett Farmiloe, Markitors

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