This is a very difficult time for many businesses. And there’s no way of knowing how long it will last and the extent of the impact.
However, this period will eventually pass. Until then, there are things our businesses can do, no matter how small, to look for opportunities in this difficult situation.
Firstly, I want to make it clear that I’m not talking about exploiting the current or any uncertain situation in the future. Those looking to do that (by hoarding essential items and flogging them online for a big profit, let’s say) will not prosper in the long-run. It’s just not how anyone should do business.
I see opportunities in three areas:
For long-term growth
One thing brightening this dark time has been the countless examples of individuals, businesses and communities coming together and offering help. Businesses are pivoting to support the production of vital equipment, while more than 750,000 have volunteered to be an NHS responder, providing essential help to the vulnerable.
We’ve seen one client offer any research teams working on COVID-19 based research access to their tech. Others are hosting free webinars and online events to offer essential advice at this time. One CEO is working in a warehouse to pack crates on their way to busy retailers.
You may not be able to build ventilators or work on a cure, but there will be a way that you can help your clients, people or community at this time. Whether that’s advice and expertise to help them navigate the uncertain times ahead, or just the offer of someone to talk to if they need to. From a content perspective, think about the articles, webinars or other content pieces that you can create that will be of use to your audience in the current situation. As Tom mentioned last week, it’s not business as usual – think outside the box for ways that you can offer value. It’ll pay dividends for your team's morale at this difficult time, and your brand in the long-term. Not least that it’s the right thing to do if we can.
One phrase I’ve found myself saying a lot over the past two weeks is ‘when the going gets tough, the tough get helpful’.
It may not feel like the right time to be pitching other businesses. In certain circumstances, it isn’t. However, for a lot of businesses, our role is to keep the economy going so we’re in a better state when this is all over.
Think about who in your current client base could be seeing a surge in demand due to the global pandemic. Maybe you can offer your services to similar companies, or seek further ways to serve your existing clients. Maybe you can help your current clients with flexible payment terms or free access to certain parts of your offering to see them through the coming months.
For long-term growth
Certain businesses will come out of this with their heads held high and their brand stronger than ever. Others will be looking rather sheepish and will have lost customers for life because of how they have behaved. Although we have many short-term issues to contend with, don’t lose your long-term perspective (here’s a good article from Marketing Week on why brands need to think long-term).
What can you do now so that you, your people and your clients are proud of how you conducted yourself? The best examples I’ve seen of this so far are companies putting their people first – ensuring that they are well supported, not put in any unnecessary risk, and considering their families too.
Within other businesses, staff may have more time on their hands to implement long-term initiatives. This could mean innovating your current services, working on marketing plans that you didn’t have time to before, or creating that content that you’ve been meaning to work on for a long time.
I expect that the current climate will act as a catalyst for digital innovation. Businesses will be streamlining their plans to move certain services online. This means they can continue to serve their customers at this moment in time and will be prepared if something like this happens in the future. This will kickstart the modernisation of their services in a digital age.
I hope you found the above useful. Just talking through ideas with our clients this has been hugely beneficial in working out how to best navigate the coming months. If anyone wants to ask for any advice, or for me to act as a sounding board, you can call me anytime between 8am-6pm on 0117 379 0044, which comes straight through to my mobile.
Stay safe and look for those opportunities to help, for business or for long-term growth.
Image credit: iqoncept