There’s a good chance COVID-19 has impacted your business. Maybe your staff is all working remotely for the first time. Perhaps you’re wondering how the economy will take to the changes, and how recession-proof your business is. Or, you might have already lost sales and are wondering how you’ll get back on track.
Whatever your specific situation, know you’re not alone. Everyone is feeling the squeeze, and in these uncharted times we can take comfort knowing that we’re all in this together. Things are changing quickly, but having a sense of community shouldn’t. Knowing you have people – and incoming business – you can count on is more important than ever.
While we can’t forecast much right now, businesses can take steps to insulate themselves from an economic downturn.
Shift your business to be more online-focused
Bringing your services online can help you weather a COVID-contracting economy. For starters, internet-based businesses can more easily comply with social distancing and shelter-in-place guidance. Plus they don’t have the dead weight of unused office overhead, which has already proved difficult for restaurants and retailers who rely on foot traffic to pay the bills.
Taking your business online also means that it’s available to ever-widening audiences.
Taking your business online also means that it’s available to ever-widening audiences. So even if you’ve always prided yourself on being a local business, it could be worth looking beyond the current locational boundaries of your brand.
Participate in – or host – virtual events
It’s 2020. Socialising does not need to happen in-person – it just needs to happen, because humans are hard-wired for social interaction, and it’s critical for our well being. Though that might look a little different for some time, virtual events and screen meetings can help you stay top of mind with customers, potential partners and your team.
The more collaborative we are during this time, the better off we’ll all be.
Go as advanced or simplified as you like. If you’re part of a smaller business, think about hosting a webinar or Q+A about a timely topic. If you have a little more reach, consider putting together a bill of speakers to pique the interest of your industry colleagues. Better yet, why not organise a Skillshare where everyone comes to the table with something to teach the group? The more collaborative we are during this time, the better off we’ll all be.
Lean into your core competencies
You’ve made it this far by distinguishing yourself from the competition. So what are your long-standing marketplace advantages? These are your core competencies (AKA: The foundation of your entire business). And during times of economic uncertainty, you should be laser-focused on them.
For some companies, their uncompromising quality or unmatched value keeps them at the top of their game. Others are known for their unparalleled customer service and genius marketing strategies (more on those in a bit). Whatever makes you, you, do that and do it well. Drop the extras and be prepared to innovate at every turn.
Prioritise your established customers
Your current clients are part of your community; something we all need right now. Make sure they know how you’re looking out for them. Are you offering special discounts for repeat buyers? Waiving shipping? Having free consultations? Tell them! Established customers aren’t just your chance to keep sales coming in without incurring any new customer costs (though that’s definitely a perk). These are the folks most likely to be loyal to companies with whom they have a pre-established relationship. As budgets continue to shrink, your potential profit may rest in their wallets.
As budgets continue to shrink, your potential profit may rest in the wallets of your established customers.
But let’s be clear. This isn’t a cash grab. Even if it costs significantly more to acquire a new customer, stay focused on what really matters – maintaining a deep connection with your current customer community and supporting them however you can – now and for the future.
Maintain your marketing strategy
When times are lean, it can be tempting to slash a meaty marketing budget to the bone. Don’t! Cutting your marketing department is an impulsive reaction that can prove fatal for your business. Think about it: The less marketing and advertising you do, the smaller your sales funnel becomes. At a time when leads are your literal lifeblood, marketing and advertising are critical components of a healthy revenue stream.
Cutting your marketing department is a knee-jerk reaction that can prove fatal for your business.
Instead, step up your marketing campaigns, but shift to low-budget tactics like earned media and PR, digital marketing and paid ads or virtual networking and thought leadership opportunities.
Whatever happens, remember that projecting too far into the future has always been an anxiety-provoking activity. And though none of us ever know what tomorrow will look like, it’s understandable that businesses find the unknowns of this current landscape especially unsettling. But now is a time to exercise compassion in the face of chaos and kindness to cut the constriction. We can’t prepare for everything, but we can use this as an opportunity to truly be there for one another – especially while getting back on our feet.