Changing it up: marketing and doing business in uncertain times

COVID-19 has hit us hard, showing just how fragile we are as a global community and the rapid rate we can spread infection across international borders. The catastrophic and lightning-fast impact on tourism, travel, hospitality and connected industries is devastating.

The reality is we don’t know how long this situation will last, with each country taking slightly different approaches, especially around speed to implement restrictions on public gatherings. We don’t know when the rebound is likely to happen, or what levels our rebound will be.

As business owners, we find ourselves in unprecedented times. Literally (hopefully) a once in a lifetime situation. What we can do as owners our teams rely on for their livelihoods is spend time educating ourselves, what it means for our way of doing business, our clients, and our teams. We must look at ways of coping and seeking opportunities for marketing. And for some lucky businesses, even growth opportunities in this chaos.

Strong Leadership

Be a strong leader in your company. Show your team in times of adversity you fight even harder. Strong leadership is the key to success, in good times and bad. There’s the concept of “peacetime CEO’s” and “wartime CEO’s”. Peacetime CEO’s focus on the big picture, empowering their teams to make detailed decisions, with strong focus on career development. Wartime CEO’s focus on fast decision making, little handholding and fighting immediate threats. Many businesses are presently at “war”. Being able to make fast, sensible, strong decisions will help settle and inspire your team.

This isn’t forever

Certain countries have proven this isn’t a forever situation. Restrictions are being relaxed and their economies able to begin mounting a fightback, getting back to work, and making sales. The good times will return. Acknowledging this and allowing it to inform your decision making is important. Don’t shed staff too fast or turn-off all marketing. Your ability to fight back, sell and deliver your service/product will be hampered when that time comes.

Don’t just focus your energy on cost-cutting

Costs, in themselves, are drivers of profit; you need to spend money to make money. A narrow focus on cost-cutting will leave you unable to compete. As a business owner, you must have acute awareness of where you’re spending your money, but must also consider the forward picture ensuring you can continue to sell to and service clients as this eases. Don’t lose talent you’ve worked hard to attract to your business. You trained and nurtured them into the solid performers they are today.

Changing your model and thinking outside the square

Restaurants and cafes have moved to a take-away only model. Hotels are moving to models supporting self-isolation and quarantine. We have helped retailers move to digital and eCommerce fast, to sell online. We’ve helped implement video consultation for architects, designers and legal professionals. We’ve helped a veterinary business migrate to web bookings, with initial diagnosis being performed via video.

Slashing prices might not help in the long run

Avoid a situation of trying to survive through being the lowest price. Unless you have structures in place to cope with slashing your prices, this strategy could be materially damaging down the track, perhaps because you are unable to profit from this or you build an image as a low cost provider, finding it difficult to return to normal pricing.

Deep dive into your costs

Get an intimate understanding of your costs. Audit each and every one. You might find systems doubling up, paying for both but only using one. Review systems to find technical efficiencies, getting best bang for buck.

Sales and marketing plan

If you don’t have one, now is the time to create one. Developing one doesn’t have to cost a lot. Once created and implemented it should lead to new opportunities and sales.

Customer service

Customers are the lifeblood of your business. Treat them with the love and consideration they deserve. Build loyalty and a sense of partnership.

There are certainly some businesses with no choice but to go into hibernation mode to survive this crisis, and we feel for those owners and their teams. For the rest of us, we must do our best to continue operating, supporting our teams, our customers and our partners.

Nathan Sinnott, Chief Executive Officer, Newpath WEB

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