As we continue to face restrictions and lockdown due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, this presents several significant challenges to businesses around the globe. So how do we adapt and prepare for the future?
We are all facing a very difficult time, more so for some people within our communities and families. Our hearts go out to those people; on the front line, who are vulnerable and scared. People have had to close businesses or cope with a much reduced income.
As business what are we to do during this time?
Try not to allow the comfort of remote working or the concerns for the future slow you down. Remain positive, set some objectives, create plans for those objectives and work through those plans.
Whether you are someone that likes free form creativity, the satisfaction of an increasingly ticked to do list, or planning with others, choose the best form for you and remain proactive.
We’ve put a few ideas together below . . .
1. Review your position in terms of your finances and seek advice
One of the most immediate thoughts and worries will naturally be your finances and those of anyone you employ. Whilst this is a unprecedented and worrying time the UK government has been proactive and quick in its response, setting out many measures to help businesses.
If your business has been (or is likely to be) affected, then seek advice.
The government has set out a package of temporary, timely and targeted measures to support public services, people and businesses through this period of disruption caused by COVID-19.
This includes a package of measures to support businesses including:
- a Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
- deferring VAT and Self-Assessment payments
- a Self-employment Income Support Scheme
- a Statutory Sick Pay relief package for small and medium sized businesses (SMEs)
- a 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality, leisure and nursery businesses in England
- small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief
- grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
- the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme offering loans of up to £5 million for SMEs through the British Business Bank
- a new lending facility from the Bank of England to help support liquidity among larger firms, helping them bridge coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loans
- the HMRC Time To Pay Scheme
2. Focus on online
As we know in-person events are now off-limits but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t people out there who are ready to engage with you.
Channel-shifting has become and oft used term but now it is a way of life!.
Look for ways to do all things online in support of your business.
- Use live video on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram that will engage with your audience
- Install, and monitor, live chat on your website
- Use video conferencing software, FaceTime or other methods to engage with and serve your existing customer base.
- Take time to produce regular videos that will benefit your strategy even after the panic dissipates.
3. Stay in contact and stay relevant
People are worried. You might feel ok, but somewhere not too far away people are genuinely scared. Relevancy has always been important to digital, its now super super important.
Remember, it’s not all about you or your company. Look outward for ways to help your community, including your employees and customers who have been affected by this virus. Whether it’s with resources, technology, or skill-set, ask yourself what you can do to help during this stressful time. This might not be a traditional B2B marketing tactic, but it’s the right thing to do and will be appreciated by your audience.
Communicating with clients and prospects during this time is essential. They are concerned people just as we all are. Assure them that you are mindful of them.
Look for ways to put your audience in first place and address their needs and concerns. A good way to do this is to sketch out a list containing some key characteristics about your audiences. What their fears, needs, questions might be. Then create content that reaches into those subject areas.
In your area of expertise share ideas, inspirations and insight.
- If you are an education provider share ideas for home schooling
- If you are a personal trainer share ideas for nutrition and exercise
- If you are a business services company share ideas for liquidity and survival
- If you’re a chef/restaurant share easy recipes, cooking videos
Consider creating content around themes relevant to your clients and prospects, using social posts, blogs, video etc.
Show them you are thinking of them and their circumstances and want to stay in touch and help and offer your services to answer any and all questions.
4. Build up your digital presence
Your digital presence, your social media and your presence in Search, is something that you can work on and improve in the background.
Take a look at all your platforms and content:
- Is it up to date?
- Can you jazz up your social profiles and feeds; better images, replace your Facebook banner with a video, share someone else’s posts, post a quiz, create a post out a series of FAQs posts/videos, write a poem?
- Upload content that reminds people of your presence and brand and is relevant to the needs of your audience
Whether it’s your blog, website or third party sites where you’re listed, you can take the time now to make sure these are fully optimised.
5. Time to innovate and ideate
Challenging times often bring focus and breakthrough. Isaac Newton discovered Calculus and William Shakespeare wrote ‘King Lear’ both whilst enduring quarantine!.
You now have some extra time to ideate, to think about your customers and to understand what success looks like in this new paradigm.
6. Revive long forgotten projects
We all have those projects that we put aside waiting for quieter times. Well now is the time to dust those off, get stuck in and produce your masterpiece. Or learn new methods that will better serve your audience.
- Create a new business plan
- Work on product/service development
- Write new content / blogs / emails
- Create a new website or give your existing one a face lift
- Create videos or podcasts or learn how to create them
- Write a thought leadership piece
- Write a course or seminar for online / face to face delivery (in the future)
… Now is that time!
7. Prepare for de-escalation
At some point . . . it will be over! And at that point you might see a surge in demand. So get ready.
Services that have been closed, and missed, for so long are undoubtedly going to be hit with demand and at that point you want to be ready with as wide a net as possible.
You might be an MOT garage, a personal trainer, a restaurant, a cafe, a shop, a mortgage broker, a hairdresser . . . chances are you have faced shut down but not to a faded audience, only a latent one.