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Staff filel photo / Mickey Cloud, executive director of The Sasha Group, is photographed in the offices of the marketing and consulting company in the Lovemans Building in this file photo.

Some call it the pivot. Others say it's navigating through uncharted waters.

Regardless, the disruptions caused by the coronavirus are forcing businesses to adjust, sometimes radically.

The Sasha Group, a marketing and consulting entity with an office in Chattanooga that focuses on entrepreneurs, is working with existing clients and even adding new ones during these uncertain times, said Mickey Cloud, its executive director.

"We've remained busy," he said. "We've had clients impacted who were working through this. Others reached out to us and need help. Our role is to help clients navigate through the changes."

Associated with marketing guru Gary Vaynerchuk's VaynerX family of companies, The Sasha Group was launched more than a year ago and typically works with entrepreneurs and small- and mid-sized businesses generating between $1 million to $100 million in revenue.

The Sasha Group also has offices in New York City and Los Angeles and complements other offerings of VaynerMedia, the digital media company which opened its Chattanooga office in the Loveman's building downtown in 2015 to help serve the growing Southeast market.

Cloud said the business of about 20 employees in Chattanooga and 45 to 50 workers companywide is counseling clients, such as a liquor and spirits company which sells consumer packaged goods.

He said that company's wholesale business is still doing "pretty well." But, Cloud said, with a distillery people can visit, The Sasha Group is helping to answer the question of how the new way of doing businesses these days is impacting the company.

Meanwhile, a new client called BumbleBerry Farms, a small Pennsylvania business that sells honey and honey spreads, had been generating most of its revenue from large and big-box stores, he said. But a lot of those have closed and stopped ordering, Cloud said.

While the business has done some direct sales over its website, the client needed to ramp up that side with the use of social media, he said.

The Sasha Group held a three-hour session using Zoom video conferencing to build a customer strategy, Cloud said.

"That's a good example of a business trying to pivot," he said. "She had utilized social media before but didn't know the nuances. We went through and gave her recommendations, which platforms to utilize, tactics on the platform, how to create content and engage with customers."

For other companies, Cloud said, The Sasha Group may be focusing on their messaging, how they can clarify it and position the business as new opportunities come up.

For example, he said, one client relies on trade shows to sell and make connections. Now, as those go to the virtual realm, the group is helping the business go there as well, Cloud said.

Cloud said that as The Sasha Group employees work from home, they're also talking to clients virtually, which he predicted will remain even when more normal times resume.

He said that the group has offered an education program which it has always done in person. While that's been a 10-hour program, Cloud said they're thinking of making it a three-hour online session.

He said The Sasha Group has been able keep all its staff working through the coronavirus crisis.

"We remain optimistic and positive," Cloud said, adding that if its clients are "standing on the other side, it's a victory."

Five years ago, Vaynerchuk brought one of his business offices to Chattanooga after speaking in the city and observing the startup culture and EPB's Gig City focus.

"Being an entrepreneur is in my DNA and I got my start in a small family business," Vaynerchuk said then. "The Sasha Group is named for my father, Sasha Vaynerchuk.... It is a nod to where I came from."

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.

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