Right now, most companies are taking a major hit. And, while it does seem like the end of the world at times, life will go on. Your business can too. But, you need to take the right steps now to ensure that you’re set up for success once this crisis ends.
Let’s explore a few thoughts and ideas that you can put into action now.
- Spreading a helpful message to your audience.
- Enlisting the aid of relevant brokers and support systems.
- Collaborating with companies in adjacent niches.
If you think this might be what you need right now, keep reading.
Before You Get Into the Nitty Gritty, Reflect on How the Business Ecosystem has Changed for Your Customers
You’ve experienced how the sales and advertising ecosystem has changed for your company — you aren’t able to send non-essential goods to Amazon for FBA. In most niches, sales have decreased. Many restaurants, stores, nightclubs, and more have suspended their services — It’s a mess.
But, have you had a chance to really think about consumer attitudes? What are buyers doing right now?
- Hoarding certain essential goods OR in dire need of essential goods their neighbors have hoarded.
- Shopping online to avoid in-person interactions within the community.
- Being more careful about whether or not the brands they shop with are taking proper sanitation precautions.
- Learning about the recommended safety precautions for the activities they are involved in.
- Staying at home with their children who were previously in school OR trying to find safe daycare so that they can go to work.
- Learning to work remotely after years of in-person work OR applying for unemployment benefits.
Now, reflect on how the purchase decision-making process has changed for consumers (specifically your customers). And, assume that at least some of this behavior will carry into the post-crisis economy.
Once you’ve settled into these ideas, make the assumption that present-day consumer attitudes and ideas are going to have a lasting impact on how people decide what to buy in the future.
And, here are some ideas you can implement today to stay in alignment with the needs and desires of your customers.
1. Spread a Helpful Message to Your Audience
First, buyers are just as panicked as you. Hence, they’re looking for comfort. It’s a good idea to let them know what you’re up to on your end and the precautions you’re taking to protect them. Recently, major brands have been transparent about their sanitation operations and what’s going on within their businesses.
One perfect example that stands out is a recent email from United Airlines CEO, Oscar Munos. In previous emails, the brand had reassured travelers that they were taking extreme precautions to ensure the safety of passengers on their flights. Now that travel has been restricted, operations have changed.
Instead of passenger flights, United airlines is now predominantly shipping medical supplies and goods to some of the areas that need it most. And, in a nutshell, Munoz brought his customers into the fold and essentially said, ‘this is what we’re doing now, but, hey, we’ll be back.’
Furthermore, if you haven’t already done so, right now the doors are open for you to become a thought-leader in your niche. Forget historical keyword research, for now — what questions does your audience have today? And, how can you answer them?
At this stage, you don’t want to share the same ol’ content, which was relevant to the consumer of yesterday. Still, as I’ve always recommended, be a problem-solver.
One copywriting coach, Jacob McMillen, decided to give a paid course away for free to five newsletter subscribers in need. It was a timely, generous, and valuable gesture. And, surely it got peoples’ attention.
What is it your customers need or want most at this time? And, how can you deliver it to lend a helping hand? Right now, the message you spread across all communication channels will have a major impact on the long-term trust between your consumers and yourself.
In a nutshell, the message your share should have the following characteristics:
- Reassure customers (and the population at large) that you’re doing your part to get through this with the rest of the world
- Be transparent with how your operations are changing and that you plan to serve people now and in the future
- Help solve problems and answer questions pertaining to your audience from your unique perspective
As always, provide real value. And, if you can do this, you are sure to be at the front of consumers’ minds when we come out of this.
2. Enlist the Aid of Relevant Brokers and Support Systems
Is your business closed/closing because you were/will be mandated to cease operations? Have consumers stopped shopping in your niche? Perhaps you haven’t lost any business at all. No matter the case, it’s time to think about changes to your operations that will help you meet consumer demands.
Once you know what needs to change, determine how you might get there. If you can’t do it on your own, consider what support systems or brokers you might need. If you’ve never used brokers before, you should know that this is a targeted business activity, not something that just anyone can help you with.
What I mean by “targeted” is that you don’t want to seek out a “food broker” if you are looking for a new supplier because that title is probably too general. Instead, research the various types of food brokers. Then, find the right ‘specialty,’ ‘organic,’ ‘kosher,’ ‘natural,’ or another broker that understands your niche and offer. The same goes for any industry.
Shop for a broker or support system the way you would a new software product, marketing team, or employee. The more effort you put into selecting the right help, the more satisfied you will be with the results.
What if You Can’t Afford to Keep Your Doors Open Right Now?
If you don’t believe you’ll be able to stay in business, even with brokers and other support systems, it’s worth looking into SBA disaster assistance in response to Coronavirus. You can get up to $2 million in aid for fixed-debts, payroll, and other costs incurred from the impact of COVID-19.
For businesses, the interest rates on these loans will be 3.75% with long-term repayment plans for up to 30 years. If you think you might qualify. And, stay tuned because next week I will share more about being efficient with your working capital.
3. Collaborate with Companies in Adjacent Niches
You keep hearing people say that we need to stick together right now, and it couldn’t be more true. If you don’t already have a powerful, close-knit business network, it’s time to build one.
Here is a list of non-essential businesses with ideas for adjacent niches that you may be able to partner up with (Sorry, I couldn’t list every type of company, but this should give you an idea even if you work outside these realms).
- Bars, night clubs, & entertainment venues – Alcohol merchants & suppliers, radio stations/DJs, entertainers, music studios, celebrities
- Casinos – Cryptocurrency, gaming
- Gyms & recreation centers – Sports & fitness influencers or coaches, nutrition & supplement companies, fitness equipment merchants
- Museums – Artists, historians, community planning
- Racetracks – Stables or breeders, animal shelters, animal trainers
- Salons & spas – Beauty supply merchants, anti-aging brands, health & fitness influencers or coaches
- Shopping malls – Retailers with a different offering but the same end-user as your brand
So, once you know who you want to partner with, how do you reach out? As always, offer something helpful. For example, if you are a hairstylist who’s temporarily out of work, you might offer an influencer some free expert guest content about how to take care of themselves at home while they aren’t able to visit a salon.
Another idea, if you’re in a service niche, is to ask another service provider for referrals in exchange for a 15% commission (or vise versa). This type of partnership can be extremely effective and it’s pretty simple to convince someone with too many leads to earn from them rather than toss ‘em out the window.
If you’re made it this far, that’s a good sign. It means you’re hanging in there. Keep up the excellent work and remember: you are not alone right now. Things have been hard on everyone. The most important thing you can do right now is take care of yourself. If you need someone to bounce ideas off of or vent to, feel free to reach out.