During times of uncertainty, it’s easy for entrepreneurs and business owners to begin feeling overwhelmed, confused, and even a little panicked. You’re not alone. But, it’s now more important than ever to keep your head and make pivots that will help your business not only survive, but thrive, long-term.
To be successful and best position your business, you’ll need to make small pivots to your strategy as you navigate through 3 phases: relevancy and brand positioning, acquisition, and growth. During Phase 1 of navigating the impact of COVID-19, think first about making changes that will help you remain relevant and helpful to your current clientele. (i.e. – Keep Customers Happy!) With that being said, “doing things” or making changes based on fear won’t help your customers, employees, or yourself – and it certainly won’t help your business. At this time, it is critical that companies make swift, but smart pivots as they navigate through the uncertainty.
Prior to making these decisions, ask yourself these two questions to bring “visibility” and direction to your pivots:
- Who is my target market?
- What do they need from me right now?
With regard to the target market, it is not necessarily just your company’s customer base. As a business owner, your “target market” might also be your team, partners, or investors. Your role as a leader may involve not only serving your customers, but also reassuring or assisting your colleagues internally as they navigate the changes. Remember, many people are likely feeling the same way you are, so tap into those feelings to help determine what you can say or do to best support those around you.
You may look at the second question and think, “Well, how do I know what they need from me!?” and you wouldn’t be alone. What your target market needs may change from week to week or even day to day. It could mean providing your internal team with support and a positive outlook. For an essential business, this question may mean shifting operations to provide people with the product or service they need most in a way that makes them feel safe and secure. If you’re a business that is currently closed, this may mean engaging with your audience and reminding them that you’re still around and excited for the moment you can all reconnect in-person!
A good way to go about answering this question is to ask yourself, “If I were a customer, what would I need?” and let that guide you. In these times, there are often many internal and external factors that can influence the feelings, attitudes and confidence of your target market. Be ready to adjust at any moment.
Here are 5 ways to best support your customers during an external crisis:
1. Stay Prepared. Be Informed
Create Plan A, B, C and so on. When the threat is outside of your control, there is no such thing as a constant which means there is no such thing as a perfect plan. Remember – your plan is a guideline, not an end-all. Alongside the ever-changing environment, it is critical for businesses to stay properly informed. There is a lot of misinformation out there, so be sure your decisions are based on factual insights from an official organization.
2. Increase Your Social Media Presence
Social media not only is the quickest and simplest mode of communication, but it also presents the opportunity for you to build or strengthen relationships with your customers. Use your social profiles to provide the most up-to-date information while also posting content that encourages engagement. Whether your business is open or closed, engaging with your audience will help them get to know who you truly are as a brand – and that is everything.
3. Support Your Community However You Can
If you let go of the fear of uncertainty, you will resist the temptation to be self-serving. Brainstorm with your team. How can you support your community? Are there deals you can provide to get them through tough times? Do you have resources that are now idle and can be used to serve others? Your community will appreciate it and when things start reopening, they’ll remember who was there for them.
4. Care for Your People
Protect the health, safety and needs of your staff and community. Your customers’ experience is many times a direct reflection of your team members’ experience. Whether it’s making changes to your operations, resolving concerns, or showing compassion towards a team member’s issues or needs – promoting a positive, safe, and healthy work environment is essential.
5. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
Transparency is key. During a time where we’re plagued with uncertainty, practicing open and honest communication with your target market will help build trust in your brand. Remember – things are happening rapidly. Overcommunicate and update your audience (both internally and externally) as changes occur.
Remember, You’re Not Alone
Stay focused on what you can control. Think-through and implement the necessary pivots for your business. When new information arises, repeat the steps. These are uncharted waters for many business owners, so it’s important to remember that you are not alone.
As IGNITE On Purpose continues to navigate the impact of the Coronavirus, we will provide insights that will help your business do the same. One day soon, the world will begin achieving a sense of normalcy and when that happens, we’ll have entered phase 2 – acquisition. We encourage you to connect with us to keep up with the latest insights.
Are you looking for help navigating your marketing and/or business strategy during this time? Contact us today. Have questions? Ask us on our LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook profiles and we’ll help get them answered!
If your business has been impacted, check out these resources from the U.S. Small Business Administration.