Economic revival is coming… will you be ready, have you been kind?
When the economy is depressed, some businesses figure out how to thrive, not just survive another day. It doesn’t matter what the reason is for the financial downturn, whether it be a pandemic, an act of terrorism, or banking foolishness. How did they do it?
The real question is… how are YOU going to survive and thrive?
The primary challenge is understanding your own situation. What can you accomplish, what can you plan for, where should you focus, how long can you last and who are the partners you can count on?
The hardest part is understanding all of those questions from your customers’ perspective. The businesses that survive and grow after economic downturns employ specific strategies, such as shifting their business model design for a “new reality” or incrementally adjusting pricing, service and delivery options.
Think about Netflix. It wasn’t an economic depression or obvious crisis that turned the company into a global powerhouse. It was executive-level understanding about how the market and technology was changing, what their customers’ behaviors were likely to be, and the team making hard decisions on how to shift the business model from a DVD mail business to an online video streaming business.
Three simple approaches
- Survey - It’s important to learn how your customers are being impacted during a crisis. You can use tools like Survey Monkey, Google Forms, or even just a simple WordPress survey plugin on your website. The trick is knowing what questions to ask so you can collect relevant and valuable data. Be sure to consider both qualitative and quantitative information.
- Phone Call - A good place to start is simply calling and talking to a handful of your most trusted partners and customers to get an initial understanding… then build the survey.
- Analyze – The initial conversations are important to scope the survey, but the data you analyze from a broader base of information can help you make many critical decisions. Other data-based marketing sources to assess might include:
- Traffic to your website – has there been any meaningful changes? Are there specific solution pages or blog pages that are receiving more traffic than usual?
- What new search terms could prospects or customers be searching for and how can that help you create new content on your website that provides value and hope
- Tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console help you understand where your website traffic is coming from, what your customers are actually searching for and help you determine if you need to shift focus toward other channels (Search, Paid, Social, Email, or Referral).
Once you have a realistic understanding of your situation and what your customer base is experiencing, you should think about timing. Timing is everything. Consider the graphic at the top this article… it is based on the stages of grief, which is what many people are experiencing. Managing time is difficult in general, but for marketing and sales professionals, knowing when the right time to offer your services or products is absolutely critical.
Thinking through what you can do and how you can do it is an essential process for survival and growth. The best companies prepare for the turnaround, because the inevitable always happens!
Ideas on planning and preparing:
- Take a hard look at your current business model – does is require new offers, new designs, new messages, new technologies?
- Focus immediately on the basics – relevant messaging changes, web updates, timely emails, text/mobile account updates, direct mail or print options
- Go virtual and create a web meeting – share benchmark results from your survey data that relates directly to your customer and partner needs. Plan to talk about how things will be changing or how we will all recover… but first… ask everyone “how are you doing?” Don’t just drill into the agenda. Ensure everyone has an opportunity to answer so you can build empathy and understanding among your audience
- Update your buyer and partner persona profiles - your ideal customer or partner is now faced with new challenges and the way you deliver your service or product offering may have to change. Take all the intelligence from the survey and webmeeting and update your persona profiles and customer journey map
- Update your content calendar - some companies have high dependency on businesses that are negatively impacted due to the COVID-19 outbreak (especially seasonal ones). Adjust your persona-based messaging to accommodate the changes your customers or partners are facing
- Use a nurturing tone - words are very powerful. Ensure your message has a nurturing tone when crafting your message. Tools like Grammarly's Tone Detector Plugin will instantly inform you what tone you are delivering when creating your message to your customers or partners.
- For inspiration, here are some companies that made big changes during hard times - Businesses That Survived the Recession and Why
This one is probably the hardest. Deciding on what, when and how to invest whatever resources you have is crucial. It feels a bit like gambling. But, with understanding and preparedness, you can and will come out the other side a much stronger company. Make no mistake – it’s opportunity time for you.
Spend the time and money now (on whatever plan you develop) to strike when the time is right. PROVE that you are a company that can last, you are dependable, you are ready… whenever your customer is ready! Under quarantine, where millions of frequently visited retail/social establishments simply cannot operate, this can be incredibly challenging.
- Functionality improvements to your website - if your message or delivery of products or services has changed, ease the user experience as best you can to initiate a new order. If no one is in the office, how are you handling support requests? Consider having live chat on your website or integrate a ticket management system to your website’s interface.
- Direct mail - the post office is open and busy as usual. Since so many people are at home, the likelihood of people opening mail increases (possibly substantially)
- Expert guidance – strategic, marketing, financial, operational. Seek help to build your plan and allocate your precious assets. If you consider yourself a good partner, use the ones you have in place or find new ones
When you look back on how your business supported the community, your partners and your customers, you will never feel badly about being kind and generous. People REMEMBER these things. Take a look at our article on empathy marketing and how it impacts the lifetime value of a customer (LTV),
The team at Xzito is just like you. We have families, friends, partners and customers and we care about them all. So today, think about where you are going, what you are doing, how you can prepare for the turnaround and remember… we are here to help you!