With the coronavirus pandemic wreaking absolute havoc on the global economy, the way we do business, as well as how we present our marketing strategies – are looking at quite a shift.
Air travel and the entire cruise business have been hit especially hard by orders to ‘stay at home’, sports games and major events are canceled, countries have put up travel restrictions to try to keep the virus out (and contained), and public health officials and hospitals have been continually bracing for the worst. In such times of crisis, it can be rather difficult to remain calm and think optimistically. Entrepreneurs and business leaders have no choice but to stay calm under pressure. After all, this is part of their role.
By taking proactive steps now, you will be able to keep your business in a secure position to stay strong and recover faster once the crisis subsides. In fact, China, where we first heard of this, is already showing signs of economic recovery. Here are some key strategies and economic insights to help your business recover from COVID-19, and any other economic catastrophe that may present.
Strategic Thinking – How Coronavirus May Affect Your Customers
Depending on your industry, your customers may be having specific new pain points related to this pandemic. You must think strategically about how this is affecting your customers, what their worries are, and how you can specifically help. Then you can adjust your sales pitch to match your marketing – each built around how to address these specific challenges and concerns. For example, are your customers…
- Struggling with market uncertainty and slowdown in demand?
- Wondering how to manage their cash flow?
- Worried about supply-chain disruptions?
- Facing a shortage of key inventory or supplies driven by consumers panic-buying and stocking up?
- Worried about how to manage employees in an environment where everyone might need to work from home?
- Worried about travel restrictions?
All of these challenges for business can really be exacerbated by a crisis like COVID-19. Your duty as a business owner is to figure out ways to re-position your products and services so they are most helpful, as well as address the specific pain points that your customers are confronting.
For example, if you sell video-conferencing solutions, this is an ideal opportunity for you to offer additional support and consulting to help your customers figure out how to adapt their remote workflows. If you are in the logistics business, now is a good time to reach out to your customers with possible solutions to navigate the latest issues affecting the global supply chain.
Embrace new sales channels
Even as more of the country goes into lockdown, people still are going to want and need to buy things, creating opportunities to serve your market via alternative sales channels. For example, if coronavirus is cutting down on foot traffic to your retail business, look to expand your e-commerce offerings. Restaurants in China have seen a decrease in in-store customers, so they’re selling takeout meals instead, and offering curbside pickup and free local delivery.
You must not give up on advertising. Think of ways you can boost your online-marketing efforts and e-commerce sales – can you create more conversations on social media and LinkedIn instead of in-person sales? Many B2B companies are already well-positioned for this, especially if they sell software or other digital solutions, and those who use targeted direct mail advertising should still be sending their coupons and discounts – but changing their call to action to send customers to a knowledgeable telephone sales representative, live chat, or directly their order site to use a coupon code from the mail piece.
Think about the affect of on long-term investments in your business.
If you’re in B2B sales, COVID-19 might be an opportunity to make some longer-term investments in your business. Especially if you’re seeing a short-term slowdown – this is the time to re-evaluate your operations, platforms and processes and do some long-term strategic planning.
If you have a few big prospects in your sales pipeline, now would be a great time to put more energy into lead management and nurturing those longer-term opportunities. It’s so important to keep checking in with your leads, reassure them if needed, and let them know that you are planning for contingencies. Most importantly, let your customers know you’re always there to help.
This unprecedented situation is, of course, driving a lot of cancellations for things like airline reservations, cruises, concert tickets and conferences, but bigger-picture B2B sales may not be quite as severely affected, unless the crisis goes on for so long that it causes companies to cut back on spending and investments. It’s always important to keep on top of your business leads with the long game in mind, even when the short-term headlines seem dire and the situation feels uncertain.
Related: 3 Ways to Safeguard Your Business as Coronavirus Spreads (entrepreneur.com)
Prepare in advance for ‘held’ demand.
A lesson to look at from Chinese businesses is that the post-coronavirus economic recovery may potentially be faster than we expect. If you cut back too far right now, there is a chance that you might not be positioned to capitalize on the post-crisis recovery. We definitely don’t want to downplay the seriousness of the public-health aspects of this crisis – everyone still needs to take precautions to stay healthy and reduce the spread. But we really believe that companies can put some good measures in place right now to be positioned for greater success when this becomes the past.
There will always be change, challenges and crises that affect our businesses. What we can control – what we can DO is recognize and adapt to the challenges and embrace the opportunities they present. What we as businesses can do now, may allow us to bounce back stronger, even from a major crisis like COVID-19.