While the current economic condition due to coronavirus shutdown may cause many businesses hardship, it can also present significant opportunity.
Let us be clear – we are certainly not making light of the struggles many businesses, especially small businesses, are experiencing. Many will have to shut their doors, or cut costs significantly for survival in this time. This post does not apply equally to every business across all sectors. However, there are businesses that can take advantage of the situation without taking advantage of people.
Here are six things that we are telling partners and clients in the midst of the COVID-19 shutdown in order to take advantage now and for the long haul.
Stop Wasteful Marketing (or any) Spend
We are always advocating for clients to cut down on wasteful spending. In most marketing budgets, there is a lot of fluff that is not producing results. Much of this is “vanity” marketing. For example, we see billboards that advertise new doctors at a practice. Quite frankly, the average person doesn’t care about a new doctor at a practice, nor do they know who that doctor is. They want to know if they can get treatment for “x”. Spend like this is wise to cut right now. While an honest look at your marketing budget should be performed regularly anyway, it’s especially important to cut the waste now. Look at your digital marketing campaigns. Which are producing results and which aren’t? Cut the fat, invest in what works.
Beyond marketing, the current situation is also going to reveal what is really needed for your business. With everyone forced to find new ways of doing their jobs and adapting to new situations, you’ll also quickly see the things you never needed anyway. Take note and let that shape how you work when “normal” (whatever that will look like) resumes. This is an opportunity to take a very honest look at operations.
Don’t Spend on “We Support You” Ads
Everyone wants to support healthcare workers and first responders. We should. They are doing an incredible job. The market is now saturated with “we salute you” ads, and there’s a growing concern that they’re being supported in word only (and does it really make a difference to the average consumer that Burger King supports healthcare workers?). The best way to support healthcare workers is to actually support them. $30,000 in aid helps much more than a $30,000 ad. Or, do something for healthcare workers specifically.
- Cater a lunch
- Make/Donate supplies
- Offer free services (auto repair, grocery delivery, etc.)
- Provide gift cards or promise of service after we return to “normal” – massage/spa treatment, personal care, counseling/support, etc.
Whatever it is you can do, it goes a lot further (and honestly looks a lot better for you in the long run) than a paid “thank you.”
Invest in the Holes that Are Created
If you have the ability to invest in marketing right now because your business hasn’t been affected so far, good for you! Now is the time to get ahead of the game. Many companies are pulling back on advertising because of financial burdens or out of fear. This creates less competition and can often lower ad costs. Even if ad costs stay the same – if you’re the only person people see, guess who they are going to go to?
This then becomes a prime opportunity to increase your market share. If you have the ability to invest in marketing, now is actually the time to invest in it, not pull back. Of course, this also assumes that you have the ability to follow up and provide goods/services those leads are requesting. If you do, great. If not, that leads us to the next point…
Nurture Your New Leads Well
Please, please don’t ignore leads that come in if you cannot fill them at the present time. This is the time to build your pipeline so that when things get back to normal, you have an extensive list of customers ready to go right away. We recommend following up with every lead, selling them on your company/product, and getting them ready to go when the time comes. In many cases, we would also recommend creating an email list and sending a blast to these hot leads as soon as you can go live.
For example, many medical devices and individuals in healthcare are not considered “essential” and elective procedures have been halted. These companies/practices should be doing any initial consults, matching with specific healthcare providers, providing costs, running through insurance – everything up to the actual procedure. With telemedicine this is, in most cases, very doable (and we have clients currently doing this). Then when restrictions are lifted, there is a significant number “ready to go” on top of the existing incoming leads. While the intermittent time may be difficult, it’s critical to set yourself up for quick income and follow-through upon relaunch.
Create and Communicate New Opportunities
Business just isn’t continuing “as normal.” It’s increasingly important to look at new opportunities. We’re seeing adjustments like curbside delivery, remote workout classes and personal training, and virtual concerts. Every business is needing to adjust in some way. It’s critical to think of new ways to do what you’ve always done – and potentially beyond the current quarantine/social distancing situation. Just because things go back to “normal” in the future, doesn’t mean that the new way won’t work better for your business and customers.
Then, it’s important to communicate those new opportunities. Get on social media, send out email blasts, call your existing clients and customers – anything you can do to be present and inform others of how you can help.
This one can’t be overstated. We are all in a state of change right now. Everyone is learning how to deal with major change – not just in business, but in life. It is more important than ever to remember that we’re all human, we are all adjusting, and we all need some extra patience. We’ve told our clients and partners that we expect to hear dogs barking, kids yelling, and a sudden change in TV volume from downstairs. Its’ okay. Extend grace.
Beyond how we interact with each other, we need to re-evaluate business from a human perspective. That means checking in on clients/customers, partners, employees, and anyone else that’s relevant. Just see how they’re doing. See if they need anything. If you’re in a place to add some extra help without charge, do it. If you can help with advice (where appropriate), provide it. This is the time to go the extra mile to help someone out. It may not pay direct dividends, but will help in the long run.
We should also note that we believe this is how we should handle business every day – from a human level and a genuine interest in helping others. It’s just so much more important to highlight now more than ever.
We’ll Get Through This
This may go on for another year, it may go for another month, or anything else in between. But, we know this is temporary and we’ll get through this. Persevere, do what you can, and take care of yourself.
In the meantime, if there is any way that we can help you, please let us know.