Lion Shirdan is a marketing advisor, creative director and the founder of UPRISE Management, a 360˚ marketing, branding and creative agency.
During this period of crisis, it’s easy for business owners to panic. With consumer bases disappearing and monetary flow at a frightening standstill, not even top executives are safe or secure. There is a paralyzing uncertainty in the air, leaving businesses everywhere without direction.
But these desperate times don’t call for desperate action. They call for composure. The world has changed, whether for the time being or the long-term future, and adaptation is imperative. That is why I have composed four essential strategies for not only helping a company’s survival but for its growth and expansion as well.
1. Reevaluate the market.
People’s daily habits have changed substantially and abruptly, which means market trends and spending patterns have done the same. Priorities have mainly shifted toward necessities like food, toiletries and utilities. However, we are a species that requires stimulation, and with the majority of the world in quarantine, three meals a day isn’t enough to feed our minds.
For example, recent trends in noise-canceling headphones indicate a demand for privacy. Though some are reeling from isolation, others are seeking relief from the sensory overload of their rambunctious children or agitated roommates. Fitness, self-help, cooking and pet videos are also escalating trends, as people find solace in positivity, humor and self-improvement.
It is important to understand that the market is constantly fluctuating, as it can change drastically based on a tweet, article or press release. Therefore, market evaluation should be a continuous daily routine in order to identify trends and adapt your business model to public demand.
2. Reevaluate products and services.
Once you’ve reevaluated the market, you should have a general idea of which services are worth providing and which services are obsolete. The pandemic has forced countless businesses to lay off their employees, leaving millions struggling to get by every day. Therefore, the most conducive products for the current market are the inexpensive ones.
Shift your focus from luxury items, such as high-end makeup brands or premium haircare products, to more affordable and essential goods. Social distancing has left the majority of the population in quarantine with no reason to dress to impress. Pushing a less marketable product at this time is neither advantageous for your business nor your clientele.
Furthermore, the best services are those which assist people during this crisis and reflect a positive image of your business. Offering major discounts on low-price items, requesting donations for healthcare workers and providing better payment plans can make your clientele feel more secure and change how the market perceives your business. Even if these services don’t yield immediate revenue, customers will always remember and remain loyal to businesses that granted them some semblance of stability.
3. Create a digital presence.
Whether they’re streaming Netflix, reading the news or surfing social media, people are spending a substantial amount of time on the internet. So, if your business doesn’t already exist online, make that transition immediately. Start a newsletter or ad campaign that targets the appropriate demographic and reinforces the necessity of your commodity.
Create an Instagram, Facebook or YouTube account that’s warm, welcoming and engaging. You wouldn’t have established your business in the first place if you didn’t have a passion for your product, so take that passion to social media and share it. This is your outlet to your consumer base, so however you choose to communicate with your customers, make sure your tone is authentic and altruistic.
Take care not to pester them with excessive emails, as they will typically be discarded as junk mail. Assume a more philanthropic approach that is helpful and emotionally resonant. Assure them that you sincerely care and that your product is as relevant as ever.
4. Build a sense of community.
Isolation and seclusion are infecting the public psyche. Reflecting a sense of community and togetherness within your business model is essential, not only for your client base but for your employees as well. Now is not the time to neglect the hardworking men and women who make the gears of your business turn.
Rather, build a group dynamic that maintains positivity and morale. Implement extended breaks into your Zoom meetings to combat fatigue and encourage your employees to socialize. Organize online fitness classes or workshops that build a team sensibility. Making your staff feel secure and appreciated can nurture new ideas, promote loyalty and reinforce confidence in your business.
If you’re a business owner struggling to keep your company afloat during this time of crisis, know that panicking will only make things worse. Collect your composure and reassess your strategy. Reevaluate the market, reevaluate your products and services, adapt to the digital landscape and build a sense of community. Ultimately, be more self-reflexive. Consider your own situation, your own needs and desires that would make this time easier on yourself, and apply it to your business model. It’s times like these when customers realize which businesses are truly there for them and which ones overlook the necessity of adaptation.
Which business are you?
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Author: Lion Shirdan, Forbes Councils Member