How to Maintain, even Grow Your Business During a Pandemic
Regardless of what you believe about the COVID-19 or the media, the economic uncertainties caused by the pandemic should be motivation enough to take a second look at how you maintain and can still grow your business. No longer is it business as usual.
People’s routines and lives have been greatly impacted. When people feel insecure or businesses financially threatened, browsing, shopping or comparing goods and services don’t always make the priority list. What does this mean for you and your business? It means that unless you re-examine your marketing strategy, your ability to grow and expand your business is under siege.
Can You Still Grow Your Business During the COVID-19 Crisis??
The answer is a definitive maybe! A volatile economy can create just as many opportunities as it destroys. Depending on the industry you’re in, some losses are unavoidable, but for many entrepreneurs, it’s about minimizing your losses and finding ways to capitalize on opportunities. Of course, this doesn’t mean taking advantage of the vulnerable by selling basic necessities at marked-up prices. It does mean making strategic decisions that will leave your business stronger at the other end of this challenge. Will your business wait it out, minimize operations or reduce marketing efforts? Whatever you decide, it’s important to make data-driven decisions and anticipate the outcomes of your decisions based on insight and analytics. For example, if your competition is waiting out the storm while there’s continued demand for your services, this may be the perfect opportunity to distance yourself from the competition, take the opposite approach, and let the world know that you’re open for business.
What’s the Best Marketing Strategy During a COVID-19 Outbreak?
If your sales previously relied on bricks and mortar stores, face-to-face meetings, tradeshows or events it’s time to re-evaluate your marketing strategy.
As cities lockdown and people are forced into isolation, one of their best friends becomes the internet. This is your chance to move your digital communication to the next level! People will be seeking updates, answers, and ways to improve their personal and professional life. If your business has a solid digital marketing strategy, you’re in a better position to weather this storm.
Important questions to ask when it comes to reaching your buyers online:
- Does your business have a reputable online presence and an intuitive and easy-to-use online interface?
- Have you implemented a Pay per Click (PPC) online advertising campaign to pull in buyers searching for your services?
- Do you have a social media campaign that engages with your potential customers?
- Is your website and content optimized for search engines when clients are browsing and researching online?
- Is your website delivering a superior user experience – making it easy to navigate, explaining your value proposition and how to buy your products and services?
If you have not invested in an omnichannel digital marketing strategy, with consistently aligned messaging and customer experiences across channels and platforms, it’s not too late to start. If you are already invested in online, consider devoting even more resources to this critically important area.
How to Identify, Implement and Optimize New Sales Channels
With social distancing being the preventative measure to contain the crisis, investing or reallocating resources to different sales channels may be the opportunity you have overlooked, until now.
Six ideas to help you sell more effectively in the digital world:
- Build e-commerce functionality on your site so customers can order your goods and services directly
- Make sure you offer quick, inexpensive delivery to online shoppers’ home or business
- Add functionality to your website so users can easily book virtual appointments
- Offer webinars in place of face-to-face presentations
- Implement an online chat tool so online buyers and browsers have a way to get their questions quickly answered
- Post a comprehensive online FAQ on your site, with strong search functionality
If you are selling knowledge and expertise, take the time to build compelling online content that provides prospects with valuable information on how to solve their most pressing problems possibly caused by the crisis, and then make that content available across online channels and throughout the digital ecosystem. This is your chance to build your brand, strengthen relationships, create trust and grow demand for your services.
Now is the Time to Maintain, Build and Grow Your Customer Relationships
You may already feel your business is doing everything it can to acquire new customers. But what strategies have you put in place to retain existing customers, and how are you interacting and communicating with your current customers? After all, it’s common knowledge that it’s far easier and less costly to keep an existing customer than to onboard a new one.
When your customers feel that you value their business, loyalty and brand preference tend to grow. And when they benefit from valuable advice, focused support and uninterrupted service, they could very well talk about their fantastic customer experience to all their friends and colleagues. And that could mean more referral business for you. Remember, the loyal and well-serviced customer can become your very best brand ambassador. And that kind of marketing doesn’t cost a penny!
Five ways to maintain and improve your customer relationships:
Don’t despair about the current craziness in the world. Consider this an opportunity to grow your business with your current customers. Here are some tips on how to achieve this:
- Deliver relevant, timely content that solves customers’ immediate and long-term challenges
- Make it easy for customers to connect with you
- Put an inbound 1-800 customer service number in place
- Set up virtual meetings with an online scheduling app
- Prioritize online chatting with customers
- Develop easy, time-saving online FAQs for customers
- Deepen the customer relationship by offering more products and services
- Engage in your customers’ channel of preference (if they are reaching out through social media respond to them through social media if their channel preference is email, respect and use that channel)
- Be responsive to all customers, regardless of the channel they choose (because they need to feel valued and trust you to deliver on your promise)
Don’t invest foolishly, but continue to invest
During economic uncertainty, we can’t hide our face in the sand and hope it all goes away. How you still maintain and grow your business during a pandemic is by staying focused. You must continue to move forward, but with caution. Identify, then eliminate, unnecessary expenses, outsource non-core competencies and use the extra money to invest and grow in your business.
3 Ways to lower your marketing costs:
Use marketing technology and automation platforms that integrate – choose marketing technology that will coordinate with other management systems so you can get a holistic view of the customer, track and streamline workflows and possibly even reduce your manpower
Consider ‘marketers on-demand’ – choose an agency or consultant that has the expertise, requires no training and can easily step into the role, to reduce your go-to-market timeframe and keep your overhead costs down
Outsource digital marketing performance management – with the level of technical expertise needed, no one can do it all, nor is it prudent to burden your internal marketing and IT resources on digital management, tracking and optimization – instead choose a partner to take on this role can be cost-effective and provide the flexibility you need to grow
Whether you currently implement any or all these strategies, during a crisis there will always be things beyond your control, and there will always be opportunities to try a more effective and efficient approach. For your business to thrive, you must remain laser-focused on seeking ways to continue to build your business and keep your customers happy.