It’s been a pretty turbulent time of late and, even when we come through the other side of it all, things are almost certainly going to be tough in other ways. It will be competitive out there.
Stop selling right now and start helping.
Broadly speaking, things were pretty good before a turn of events changed it all. Many companies were busy, many were doing well. We now find ourselves in a situation where we are trying to get back to business and, with any luck, to find things pick up from roughly where they left off. For most people, that simply isn’t going to be the case. You are going to have to work really hard and hit the ground running. The very first thing I would recommend any business owner does is to think less about growth and think more about retention. We are all in this together and what the market needs most are kindness and confidence. Now is the time to be going the extra mile for your existing customers – they will be grateful if you do, they will remember it and they will reward you for it by staying loyal. Customers are having to think about their finances like never before and the last thing you want is for them to stop using you or, worse, start using someone cheaper.
As the subtitle above says, your focus should be on helping and not on selling. Helping is selling but it’s doing it in a way that focuses entirely on the needs of your customers and adapting to their changing requirements.
Use this time to reconnect with your existing customers and ask them how they are. Ask what you can do to help them through this tough patch and, if they need that little extra from you, don’t be afraid to give it to them. In tougher times you will be amazed at how good for business it is to say “yes” to as much as possible. Of course, within reason, but don’t begrudge a client who asks you for a discount or a bit more from you. My advice: if you can do it, and you aren’t losing money by doing it, then do it. Forget profiting on everything for a little while and make decisions that will help to keep you trading and your workforce busy. If you are rushed off your feet with work, or when you get to the point that you are, then you can start to think about your profits again.
Things have changed – how are you going to change?
Your business needs to be better. It’s easy to get complacent when things are going good and forget about the importance of “continuous improvement”. A good business is always listening and learning then questioning all that it does and how it does it. Now is the time to look at everything you are doing and to think about, from your customers’ perspective, what you can improve.
Here are my “Five P’s” that every business should spend some time thinking about and challenging:
- PriceIs my pricing still relevant and competitive in the current market? Should I reduce my prices or run any special promotions to keep current clients and entice new ones that are under more financial pressure and need to look around? Don’t be afraid to drop your prices in order to get your order book full. You can always put them back up again later. Busy is better than idle even if you are only breaking even.
- Product.Would customers benefit from some new products that could be helpful in a time like this? Could I structure the way I provide my service or deliver my product differently to make things easier, cheaper or more useful? Adapt and evolve your product/service or introduce some new ones that there could be an appetite for. Look at the success stories during the pandemic versus those who failed – many of the winners used their heads and diversified.
- PositioningHow do I currently communicate what I do? Do I need to talk about it in a different way? For example, if you bake cakes then you could create special packs for customers to give to their customers as a reason to reconnect with them. If you produce software, maybe your software can be used in a certain way to deal with current, prevalent challenges. Get customers to think about what you do in a different way that really resonates with them in a time like this.
- ProspectingHow did you go about winning new business before? What has changed that will mean those methods may be much less effective or successful now and how will you adapt to reach them and win them over differently. For example, if you’re finding that getting client meetings is ten times harder than it was, connect with people through email, social media (eg. Facebook, LinkedIn) and consider tried and tested methods like popping leaflets through doors with special, time-limited offers on them.
- PackagingHow do you look right now? Is your brand image a bit shabby and dated or your website falling short because you took your eye off it while you were so busy? Again, now is the time to invest your time, energy and maybe some money in improving how you do everything. You can count on things becoming a lot more competitive so how are you going to stay ahead of the competition and look like a business people feel comfortable and confident coming to? Do things differently and say things differently – showing an emotive empathy to what everyone is going through.
Trust me, if you do those things you will probably surprise yourself with the fresh ideas you come up with and the positive impact they have on you, your customers and your business. Don’t be afraid to try anything. If it doesn’t work, try something else. Just don’t be afraid. For example, we ran a 50% discount promotion on all our services back in April before any of our competitors. Our order book ended up stacked out for 3 months and we were then in a position to put our prices back to normal and think about planning ahead for the following quarter. We also introduced some new packages that enable smaller clients to get really affordable business marketing services bolted together and we introduced the concept of leased websites where clients can spread the cost out over 12-24 months. We’re still doing everything we did before, we are just doing it in a different way that recognises changes in the market and that helps us to help more clients.
So, don’t wait to see what your competitors do then try and follow suit, lead from the front and reap the rewards first!
If you need any advice or help with your business brand image, marketing strategy or website, please drop me a line for a chat. The TFA team and I would be delighted to help you through this and see you prosper on the other side, even if it’s just some free and friendly advice to get you on the right track. Get in touch today and click here.
Written for, and featured in Pulse Magazine