The current global pandemic has changed life as we know it for nearly everyone in the world, which has meant a lot of changes for businesses, too. Many businesses were impacted by shelter-in-place orders issued in the spring, while others have been impacted by cutbacks or decreased revenue due to the economic recession. Regardless of the circumstances, many businesses are scrambling to figure out how to keep generating revenue in this new era. For many, business-as-usual is out of the question. So, how can you ensure your business survives, and possibly even thrives, during this singularly unique time?
Here are five things you can do to help your business keep the customers you already have and even gain more while in a pandemic.
During the first stages of the pandemic, everyone with an email address was inundated with emails from companies telling us how they were dealing with the situation. The amount of emails received on the subject quickly became absurd for most people. Then, after the initial barrage of messages, many of us never heard another peep from those same companies.
It’s a knee-jerk reaction to want to inform customers about how your business is dealing with an urgent or emergency situation. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But a good long-term communication strategy is one where you’ll really build a relationship with your customers, rather than just sending out sporadic emails in response to external crises.
The ways in which you communicate with your customers will be defined largely by your industry, business model, etc. But there are some common threads for good email communication that can help almost any business.
- It’s okay to send “salesy” stuff during this time. Selling stuff is what businesses do. But don’t make every communication a hard sell. It’s important to acknowledge what’s happening in the world in whatever way makes sense for your business.
- Don’t stray too far the other way, either, though. There’s no need to mention the pandemic in every communication, unless it’s relevant in some way to what you’re doing.
- Use email and other communication strategies to help customers understand anything that’s changed about your business and, most importantly, how you can still help them resolve whatever problem they’re facing that’s related to your business.
First and foremost, communication should be about connection. When you form a connection with people, it’s much easier to build and maintain a relationship that can withstand difficulties like most businesses are facing now. So, it’s important to remember that communication shouldn’t be a one-way street. Don’t just tell your customers about what you’re doing. This is a great opportunity to ask them what they need from you and truly listen to the answers. You may find that your customers open you up to a completely new set of opportunities that you wouldn’t have arrived at without their input. Either way, it’s a great opportunity to deepen your connections with your current customers and maintain your relationships with them.
In the normal course of doing business, companies are constantly required to adapt and change due a variety of factors including: updated laws, consumer demand, competition, technological advances, cashflow, employee needs, and more. However, rarely has an event forced businesses to adapt so many different factors at a single time in the way that the pandemic has.
Attempting to adapt so many different things at once can wreak havoc with a business, but the pandemic has given many businesses no choice but to adapt quickly to these completely unexpected circumstances. Given that, turning the need to adapt into an advantage has become crucial to businesses during this time.
Offer a new product or service
If the pandemic has interrupted your normal business operations, it might be time to get creative with new products or services. For example, many restaurants have created new curbside or home delivery options to cater to people who feel more comfortable eating at home. If you can add a product or service to your business that will help people, whether it is pandemic-related or not, this is a great opportunity to do so.
Convert existing content for new purposes
With so much else going on, marketing can get pushed way down on the priorities list. But you have to keep marketing your business if you want to get new customers and ultimately stay in business.
One simple way to do that is to take information you already have and repurpose it for new uses. For example, maybe an especially good series of blog posts could be converted into an ebook. Or a webinar you hosted could become a free download for people who sign up to your email list. People enjoy consuming content in different ways, and repurposing existing materials is much less time-intensive than creating completely new content. Plus, it allows you to add new options to your marketing toolbox.
With many people staying home and unwilling to participate in large group activities, a lot of businesses have found success by going virtual with services and events. Everything from dance classes to college courses and parties have moved into the digital space. One way to adapt is to consider what services or events your company could move to the online space. It’s a great opportunity to open up a new stream of revenue, and digital events are often much cheaper to run than live gatherings.
Adaptation is going to be a non-negotiable aspect of operating a viable business through the pandemic. No matter what ways you choose to do it, your business must be willing to change to make it through.
Since adaptation is required, it’s a good time to experiment with new things you’ve been wanting or meaning to try. Sometimes, it’s difficult to implement new things in business because of inertia; no one wants to mess with what’s already working. However, most businesses have no choice but to make some changes to the ways they’ve been doing things. That makes it the perfect time to experiment.
Since you have to make changes anyway, it’s a great time to really dive into things that could be exciting or disruptive for your business. For example, you could try new online marketing channels, such as Facebook Ads or Google PPC. Or create online courses. Or set up that YouTube channel or podcast you’ve been wanting to experiment with. Maybe there’s a new product or service that you’ve been interested in adding to your business, or a new service, such as dropshipping or consulting that you thought might make sense to offer to your customers, but never found the time to get it launched. Now is that time. These experiments can help you find ways to attract more and different customers, as well as reinvigorate the customers that you do have.
Today’s world is no longer business-as-usual, so don’t be afraid to step away from what you’ve done in the past to new projects, ideas, or channels that could very well support your business into the future.
When people set out to buy something, what they’re really looking for is help. It could be help saving time, help getting things done around the house, or even help to grow their own business. Customers buy your product or service because they believe it will fulfill the need of whatever they’re looking for help with at the moment. So, focusing on ways you can help people can be a huge asset, especially in difficult times.
Consider all the ways your business can genuinely help people, including any normal services you offer, as well as special things that might be relevant to what’s happening in the world right now. Then, include those services as part of your overall marketing efforts. Using this tactic has several benefits, including boosting business from existing customers, bringing in new customers, and genuinely helping people during turbulent times.
There are a lot of things stacked against businesses right now, especially small businesses. We’re in a recession, group gatherings are limited in many places, people are ill or afraid of becoming ill, and many more. It’s no surprise that many businesses have pulled back on marketing efforts and other business expenses in a bid to save money, since future revenues are uncertain at best.
However, reducing marketing efforts is exactly the opposite of what most small businesses need to do to stay afloat. Reducing your marketing means fewer customers coming in and a sparse pipeline that can hurt your business for months or years, depending on your sales cycle.
In fact, instead of contracting your marketing now is an exciting time to expand your marketing efforts, for a few reasons.
- Many other businesses have cut back on marketing, so paid marketing opportunities have become cheaper in a lot of sectors, and competition for valuable keywords has also dropped, meaning you can potentially get a lot more prospects into your pipeline for the same budget.
- People are spending more time online due to the lockdown, which can mean more traffic and more eyes on your ads.
More traffic plus lower costs per click is a perfect storm for marketing. With so many other businesses putting on the brakes, this is a great time to put all the resources you can towards expanding your marketing and improving your business.
No one could have predicted the pandemic or the way it’s changed everything about doing business. If you can find new or improved ways to serve your existing customers and leverage opportunities to bring in new customers, there’s no reason that your business can’t come out of this situation the same or better than before.
What has been your business’ most successful pandemic-related change? What are you struggling with?