The world is a pretty scary place right now. Even those who are are lucky enough to stay healthy through this global health crisis may be feeling anxious and worried about how they are going to pay their bills. Small businesses are traditionally hit hardest during a recession, as they often depend on outside financing and have less room to cut expenses. Add in a quarantine, and well… it can be downright depressing. We get it.
But that doesn’t mean that you should throw in the towel. On the contrary, businesses that forge ahead during difficult times are the ones that come out stronger on the other side. How? Here are eight things you can do right now to help your business not only stay in business but be in a position to grow and thrive when the tough times are past.
- Remain visible. When all of this is over, people are going to be hungry to go out. To gather, to buy, to participate in all the things they had not been able to do before. If you own a restaurant, will it be your restaurant they want to go to first? If you own a clothing store, will it be your clothes they want to buy with their first paycheck? If you are a travel destination, will it be your destination they will be dreaming of visiting? If you are a health coach, will it be your gym that they are eager to join? You get the idea. Change your message to address the current situation, but keep your name out there. The more visible you are during this period of waiting, the more your business will be top of mind when your customers are able to go out and do things again.
- Make caring part of your mission. Customers today are extremely savvy. They can smell a salesman a mile away. They know when you’re not being authentic. They know when you are desperate. And when they sense any of these things, they will run in the other direction. Right now we are in an unprecedentedly dire situation. People are scared. They are lonely. They might be exhausted and stressed if they are front line essential personnel. Heck, they might be exhausted if they are telecommuting and homeschooling at the same time. Or they might be bored and at loose ends if they aren’t working. They might have battled the virus themselves. They might have even lost a loved one. Be gentle. You don’t know what anyone is going through, but what you do know is, it isn’t easy. Be the business that cares about the customer as a human being, not just as an income stream. If you truly care, people will sense that, and they’ll be more likely to buy from you and recommend you later. And you’ll feel better about yourself, too.
- Pivot your offerings. If whatever product or service you provide is not able to be sold right now, think about what can be offered instead. If you own a brick and mortar store, can you set up an online sales platform? If you own a restaurant, can you offer a safe and effective pick-up or delivery service? If you teach yoga classes, can you set up an online class instead? If none of these apply to your situation, what is something that people want or need now, in this time of quarantine, that your business can provide? (Need help brainstorming? Reach out, we can do that.)
- Check in with your customers. This isn’t an industry-specific slowdown. This is a global pandemic and few if any people are unaffected in some way. Your customers are going through the same things as you are. Check in with them. No, not to sell them anything. But to say, hey, are you doing okay? How can I help? Do you want to talk? I know, this is not getting you any more sales to just care about people. But who do you think they’ll remember when the crisis is over? The company that only wanted to sell them something, or the company that truly cared about them as a human being?
- Position your business as the leader. When you think about a business that’s a leader in its industry, what kinds of things influence that perception? Is it the brand that you hear about in the news? The one whose advertising you see? The one that educates and informs? The one that has a mission or belief you share? One that helps others? It’s probably a mix of all of these things. During downturns when budgets are tight, most businesses tend to cut back and lay low. Yet those who persist — with their mission, their business offerings, their advertising and promotions — these are the ones who have the greatest share of voice (that’s marketing-speak for the percent of all brand exposures that one brand makes versus all others). More exposure means more awareness, and that awareness can translate to more sales, now and especially in the future.
- Be ready for when things return to normal. If your business is one that is closed at the moment and you find yourself binge-watching your favorite Netflix series or scrolling through social media in your pajamas at all hours, this is a great opportunity. Use this downtime to plan what promotions and specials you’ll offer when the quarantine is lifted. You don’t want to be reactive, you want to be ready. Create some ads or social media posts that are ready to drop as soon as things return to normal. What kinds of promotions do you think people will want at that point? What inventory should you have on hand to satisfy your customers and seamlessly segue from crisis mode to recovery?
- Do something to give back. It’s hard to think beyond our own situation in times like this, but there are many people struggling right now. What can your business do to help? The news is filled with stories about distilleries that stop production to make hand sanitizer, about restaurants that send catered meals to overworked healthcare workers on the front lines, about fashion manufacturers that use their expertise to sew and distribute face masks. Does your business have some expertise that can be used to do good for your community? Think of it as an investment in goodwill. People will remember what you do when it contributes to the common good.
- Use this as an opportunity to reinvent and improve your business. If you have time on your hands now while you wait for things to return to normal, this is a perfect opportunity to revisit that “to do” list and see what things you can accomplish that you didn’t have time to do before. Is there a skill you wanted to learn? Some coaching you didn’t have time to take on? A new product or service you have been thinking about adding to your current offerings? Can you use this time to analyze your sales data? Send out a targeted survey to your customers? Elicit feedback from key accounts or missed business and incorporate what you learn into how you conduct business moving forward? Look at this extra time as an opportunity to jump ahead and improve your business rather than an obstacle to hold you back. Mindset is everything – you can do this!
If you would like help analyzing your data, surveying your customers, making sense of your business offerings and promotions, brainstorming new ideas, or thinking about ways to put these ideas into action, we can help. Set up a FREE 15-minute consult with Jersey Shore Marketing & Insights by emailing your name, the name of your business, and best times for a consultation call to firstname.lastname@example.org. We love to brainstorm and we’re here to help!