Discover five hard-earned search marketing skills you already have that make you better prepared for real-life disasters.
The entire world is feeling vulnerable right now.
We’re searching for ways to protect ourselves and our families from real and potential threats.
Inevitably, elite athletes and the military will survive an apocalypse.
Meanwhile, those of us with desk jobs are destined to become zombie appetizers.
This doesn’t have to be the case.
As a search marketer, you have a very particular set of skills.
That’s right; your experience in research, strategic thinking, and performance optimization can help you survive.
Here are five hard-earned skills you already have that make you better prepared for real-life disasters than you may have realized.
- Go Niche & Local, Not Broad & General
You know in your core it’s better to focus on specific, long-tail, localized content than overly broad ideas.
“Emergency preparedness” is a broad umbrella term that includes thousands of scenarios:
- Urgent injuries, accidents, or illnesses.
- Loss of power, heat, water, food, or shelter.
- Natural disasters such as storms, fires, and droughts.
- Human-caused disasters such as terrorism or violence.
- That’s not a complete list of possible disasters, and just writing those out is a little depressing.
But different emergencies require different plans, and parsing out actual scenarios beats the aggregate “all emergencies.”
For example, a 72-hour “go bag” can help you escape danger when your home is suddenly no longer a safe place to be.
But if you’re stranded at home after a hurricane, a backpack isn’t going to keep your family fed while you wait for the power to return. (Here are some ideas for cooking without power.)
People who focus only on generic “emergency advice” can end up unprepared for the real threats to their families.
Websites like ready.gov/plan give you a great starting point. (While the sites I’m referencing are largely U.S.-based, the advice can be adapted to most locations.
First aid kits, water, and flashlights might be obvious necessities.
What about feminine hygiene, pet food or items for people with sensory needs?
You’ve already got a research process for keywords. Apply it to your safety planning.
You of all people can go deep in these exercises without experiencing burnout or research fatigue.
Build a list of specific scenarios that may affect you and your family, given your geographic area and personal circumstances.
Then identify the resources you’d need to be prepared for each.
It still may feel scary and overwhelming because of how personal it is, but the more specific you are, the more equipped you’ll be to handle each situation.
2. Aim for the 80/20 Rule (Not Immortality)
You know that speech you memorized to explain to prospects why “being #1 on Google” is not a reasonable or productive goal?
It’s time to give a modified version of that speech to yourself.
The end goal of preparedness is not to guarantee survival under any worst-case scenario.
That’s not possible, which makes it a bad objective.
Once you accept your own mortality, you can let go of the idea of preparing for the absolute worst – which includes an infinite number of unlikely challenges – and focus your energy on statistically likely setbacks within your control.
- You’re more likely to miss a paycheck than you are to get bitten by a zombie.
- You’re more likely to need an extra can of noodle soup than a bunker full of MREs.
- You’re more likely to have to walk a mile than to navigate your way home from the Amazon rainforest.
- Where you live and what makes you comfortable are huge factors.
But use some judgment and risk-assessment in your preparation.
All goals are not created equal, and they can’t all be accomplished at once.
Good marketing goals prioritize business growth over vanity metrics.
Good emergency prep goals prioritize basic survival over contingency plans for outliers.
Pareto’s law suggests that you can cover 80% of potential threats with 20% basic preparation.
Further prep is optional, but will have diminishing returns with increasingly unlikely scenarios.
You can disregard expensive or impractical advice that’s unlikely to drive your primary KPI of surviving plausible disasters.
You’re not required to stockpile trekking poles just because an internet stranger put them on a “must-have” equipment list.
Own your process.
3. Conduct a SWOT Analysis… of Yourself
Many marketers use a SWOT analysis to assess their clients’ strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
This matrix helps businesses strategically evaluate their advantages and risks in a given landscape.
It can do the same for you.
As you review the sections based on internal factors (strengths and weaknesses), look at something that isn’t addressed enough in preparedness analysis: attitude.
Why Attitude Drives Preparedness More Than You’d Think
Preparing for emergencies can feel terrifying, futile, unnecessary, impractical, or wasteful.
If you don’t think it matters, you probably won’t take any action.
Even if you do think it matters, there’s a good chance you’ll run into challenges that slow or stop your progress.
Some common resistance points:
- It’s too expensive.
- It’s too abstract.
- I don’t have enough space.
- I’m too nomadic.
- All these problems are solvable, in that if you want to find more peace and security, there are steps you can take.
For instance, if your home (or room) is small, you can use vertical storage solutions or space below beds.
I knew a large family living in a small New York City apartment that kept a year’s supply of food.
One way they conserved space was to build a homework desk using sturdy #10 cans of food for desk legs. This might not be the right solution for your family, but something will be.
For families with limited finances, research ways to stretch your food budget or affordably build your food storage (both of these links are great references).
When you decide you’re an exception to the rule, it’s easy to get stuck and stay stuck.
But if you commit to finding solutions for your family, you’ll be able to.
- Leverage Technology & Automation
Is there anything digital marketers love more than eliminating repetitive tasks with rules, scripts, or automation?
It’s time to channel your inner geek for real-life survival.
Technology has a bad rap when it comes to emergency prep, and a lot of guidelines are outdated.
Notice how many checklists still include having a roll of quarters for payphones in case of emergency.
Let that sink in for a minute.
- Maintenance & Optimization Are Ongoing
As with search engine marketing, managing your preparedness efforts is an ongoing process, not a one-time event.
Food and medicine expire. Batteries leak. Kids outgrow their extra clothing.
Despite knowing this, many people expect preparation to be a “set it and forget it” activity, rather than an ongoing part of life.
Optimizing Prep & Plans
My favorite working definition of optimization is doing more of what works, and less of what doesn’t.
A huge challenge of preparing for emergencies is that it’s hard to know what actually works since most supplies and plans aren’t regularly used.
Waterproof matches, 4,000-calorie bars, and emergency tents go untouched.
Plans are theoretical.
According to FEMA, 60% of American adults have not practiced for a disaster in the last year.
Because you work in an industry that changes frequently, you know that staying current is often the difference between success and failure.
You can commit to being in the group that not only makes a plan but practices it regularly and even optimizes it for greater efficiency.
Evaluate your preparation through practice, drills, and even short trips.
After a few weekend getaways, you realize that you don’t need to bring four paperback novels – something you didn’t realize when you were imagining yourself poolside with nothing else to do.
I’ve found I can easily go a few days without a travel-size conditioner, but having extra napkins or paper towels on the road is essential.
As you get more practical experience, ditch what’s not needed in your pack and plans.
Add what’s missing.
Maintaining Efforts & Storage
Maintaining food and supplies is easiest when you store items you actually use.
In general, avoid unfamiliar products that will expire and get thrown out unless the “right emergency” happens soon.