Life and business as we know it has changed over the last few weeks. Some businesses are being hit hard while others are hanging in there. In either case, it’s natural to go on the defense, cut expenses, and prepare for the worst.
For those of us who experienced the 2008 recession, you might be feeling a little déjà vu now faced with the impact of the Coronavirus. Wanting to cut everything and run a “tight ship” is understandable and even a practical reaction, especially for small businesses.
Not knowing how things will play out has so many feeling unsure and out of control right now. There’s no doubt, you’ll likely need to make some changes within your business, but it’s how you navigate the downturn that can have you leaving the competition in the dust when the economy returns.
“Don’t Give Up! Successful companies that come out of a recession, are often those that prioritize and execute the right marketing strategies.” - Harvard Business Review
In fact, we think a downturn is an opportune time to focus on the fundamentals and sharpen your overall strategy. Here’s a list of “go-getter” actions that every business can benefit from:
Find Your New Normal
- Look For New Opportunities - Get creative and look for new opportunities wherever you can. If you’re a brick & mortar, consider a way to encourage more online business or expanded services via phone, video, and webinars. If your message doesn’t resonate right now, change your offers, messaging, and consider testing a new market. Don’t be afraid to try something new.
- Expedite An Alternative - People will be cutting extra expenses from their budgets and forgoing services for some time. If you can give your customers a cost-efficient alternative, you’ll be ahead of the game. Perhaps a pre-sale (via gift cards) with special savings now that can be redeemed within the year? Consider any add-on services that can be presented as Free or Complimentary.
- Prioritize Helping - Both consumers and businesses struggle in an economic downturn, so find a way to serve the community and your customers through this difficult time. This could be as simple as a special offer for first responders or lower prices for a limited time on specific services. Every effort counts.
Focus On Fundamentals
- Clean Up Your CRM - When the business is running smoothly, you can get away with missing or inaccurate data and still manage marketing and sales functions. That’s not the case when things get tight. Your CRM data needs to be usable and actionable now more than ever. This includes verifying the correct configuration of tools like Google Analytics, attribution and conversion metrics.
- Reconcile Your Marketing Budget & Re-forecast - This is one of those tasks that we often put off. Not so anymore. You’ll need to spend some time reviewing what has been spent so far this year. It’s not too soon to be thinking about the revenue you’ll need to recoup, and the marketing budget that will be needed, to help get you back on track. The sooner you tackle it, the more in control you may feel.
- Review Advertising Results - If you haven’t already, look at where you’re currently spending your advertising budget. There’s a good chance it makes sense to pause certain marketing channels or campaigns. For example, the volume of people in their cars is so low that it makes less sense to advertise on the radio. At the same time, the number of people on social media has drastically increased. Take a look at where you might need to shift some marketing dollars.
- Evaluate Your Tech Stack - As your business grows over the years, so does the number of tool-sets you may be using. Now is as good a time as any to evaluate your business needs and determine what you no longer need. Do you really need two stock photo accounts? Are you paying for a CRM that you’ve outgrown? Perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate your sales and workflow needs. Are you paying too much for domains or service providers? Take a look, and you might be surprised at the savings.
Double-Down On Training
- Sell From The Inside Out - Content is (still) king and one of the best ways to “sell” your brand during a downturn. We’re not talking about creating professional-grade videos or publishing multi-page white papers, but rather, creating content that provides reasonable and actionable recommendations that can be implemented within 24 hours. Facebook Live, Instagram, and Zoom webinars are your best tools when folks are in crisis mode. There’s little to no cost to create good content, and with the right message, you can have a significant positive impact on your customer base - one that provides a healthy stream of inbound leads for months to come.
- Get Certified - Is it time for your team to brush up on certifications? From HubSpot training to Adobe to Google’s Skillshop, there’s plenty of training available to help your team develop skills that can be applied right away. Now would be a good time to encourage your team to complete new certifications while they work from home. If you can swing it, consider offering a small bonus for every completed certification.
- Expand Your Expertise - From Photoshop, and data analytics, to front-end web development, there’s likely a skill set that your business is either missing or needs to strengthen. With expert-led e-courses, like those offered at General Assembly, your business can quickly add skills to help expand your service offering. If you have the down-time, this may be the perfect opportunity to rethink your core service offering and ramp up for when the economy turns around.
Ultimately, this downturn is just for now, not forever. Making the most of it is what will help your business come out on the other side stronger than before. Crises like this don't build character, they reveal it, so focus on adapting to the current market, weeding out unnecessary expenses, and training your team to grow through this.
Stay tuned to our blog for more insights on building your business through the COVID-19 pandemic.