Do you have a revised business and marketing plan for the next 90 days?
Now is the time to market your business. If you have resources available use them. If you are able to use them in a manner that generates revenue, that would be my focus, however if you cannot use them for revenue generation, use them to do good within your community. You have a duty to your employees, team members, and investors to do what is reasonably possible to keep your people and your firm moving forward. That being said, if you cannot generate business in the traditional sense, the next best focus is goodwill. Generating goodwill has the ability to pay massive dividends for your company at a later date. Goodwill is such a powerful tool many major corporations list it on their financial sheets for sometimes very large numbers. Goodwill is the value of your firm within your local community. The sense, feeling, or emotional reaction people have to seeing your brand or brand image can be powerful.
Certainly you are not likely to generate that type of recognition, but a local newspaper, non-profit group or tight-knit neighborhood goes a long way. This type of awareness is only one side of the goodwill equation. The other side of the equation is the company culture you build through allowing your team members the opportunity to participate locally, and help people in need. Every business relies on customer service and community service directly correlates to a more empathetic approach to serving customer needs and building also building cohesion and a sense of belonging among your teams. Ultimately the opportunity to do good for people in need is a win-win for everyone. If you can pay your staff during this time, pay them. If you cannot pay them, be upfront about this. See if they would like to volunteer their time and get out of the house. It may also be helpful to explain the pay-it-forward benefits this may have once the society returns to normal and the economic uncertainty subsides.
A firm well positioned to handle increased demand once this pandemic has been controlled will reap a lion’s share of the work. The secret is to be ready for it. Make sure your equipment is maintained, your process is polished, your team is presentable and your marketing keeps your entity ‘top-of-mind’ within the customer’s sphere. This cannot be stressed enough. Start your marketing now. It requires a tremendous amount of ‘touches’ to influence new customers. Assuming you’re established, run two campaigns. Once to focus on reaching existing customers and one to focus on new customers. Certainly the two will overlap, and just as with a Venn diagram you will likely find common elements or themes that cross both circles, however the strategies can vary. Use one strategy to educate. Educate people about who you are and what you do. This is for new customers, make sure the media is clear and concise. Try to let photos do the talking where applicable. The second strategy is to remind and entice. Make sure your customers haven’t forgotten about you. Remind them how awesome their experience was and provide them a reason to call again. Especially during this economic uncertainty, look to utilize tools that can bring in cash flow now: Prepay and save 10 percent. Consider referral incentives or value add propositions to make an appointment or purchase now.
If you are able to continue working throughout this social and economic shutdown be sure to follow CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines and make this information clear to employees. Inform them of best practices and educate them on both the benefits of following the guidelines and the risks of not following the guidelines. Ensure you can provide the proper personal protective equipment, encourage the use of increased personal hygiene, surface disinfectant, and continue to practice social distancing techniques of keeping 6 to 10 feet of distance between people and personnel. Written policies and procedures are also a good idea in this situation. During such stressful and uncertain times, a leader cannot over communicate. Keep your customers and your team members informed and up-to-date. The coronavirus pandemic we are currently fighting is a very fluid situation and changes may continue to happen very quickly for a few more weeks or months. Resolve to continual communication between stakeholders via a medium you deem most appropriate. This may include email, YouTube recording, a team communication app such as Slack or Asana, daily Zoom calls/webinars, or scheduled Facebook live videos.
Over the short-term, this may be a good opportunity to shift or pivot your business functions. Master home builders are advertising limited-time custom built cabinets, cutting boards, or benches to avoid contact with the population as we weather this storm. Counselors build out models to offer video conference calls and appointments to allow their patients access to mental health as we are all sheltering in place. Universities and grade schools greatly expanding their use of online, remote learning and investing in the tools to do this successfully. All of these revised business models offer firms the opportunity to continue operating during this time period, provide short term solutions to our immediate problem(s), and potentially demonstrate opportunities for the future or improvements to a current model. This pandemic is tragic, but there is also a tremendous opportunity to work on your business, instead of in your business.
Plan, record, and write down a business and marketing plan for the next 90 days. Look for opportunities to revise, improve, or survive. Build systems and strategies that will allow you to grow and recover as this crisis abates.