Posted on March 17th, 2020
Businesses of all types are grappling with massive uncertainty in this new COVID-19 era.Â
We are fielding a wide range of questions from virtually all of our clients. AIMCLEAR provides Integrated Marketing services for businesses ranging from supplement retailers to event producers and major SaaS platforms, and all are exploring new territory.
But we can pull from lessons of the past and implement critical business learnings and insight to help forge the right path. This is a time when a steady, measured strategy can help businesses weather the storm and be impactful for their communities.Â
Here, we’re sharing three steps we encourage businesses to adopt to stabilize (and even grow) during these unprecedented times.
#1. PREPARE TO PIVOT
As schools close and more people stay home to care for those kids (or even self isolate, whether they’re sick or not), it’s inevitable that the way your business operates is going to need to change.Â
The path to a successful pivot amid unprecedented change starts with asking the right questions.Â
“Asking better questions sets you up to see wins you may have missed.”
The questions a business asks determines the answers they get… And the answers we get determine the outcomes we experience.
In addition to asking the big one – “How do I pivot my business?” – Here are some more granular examples of vastly better questions you might consider:
- What is the WORST possible outcome?Â
- What is the BEST possible outcome?Â
- What can we do RIGHT NOW to address middle and worst possible outcome situations?
- What assets do we have at our disposal?Â
- What are our customers’ biggest challenges right now and how do our core competencies/products/services address them?
- What could we change or augment in our core offerings to better serve our customers with their new challenges RIGHT NOW?
- How can we make our employees’ and customers’ lives better or easier?Â
- How can we move some (or all) of our business operations online?Â
- What can we do to stay “top of mind” with our customers?
- What is the appropriate tone to strike with customers, given our business? (For example, it’s probably not a good time to show images of big crowds, or ask questions like “Are you itching to get away from it all this weekend?”)
Asking thought-provoking questions like these is far more valuable than watching, worrying or waiting.Â
Here are just some of the ideas we’ve already seen spring from pragmatic brainstorming:
- Free trials
- Free shipping
- Deferred payments
- Gift card promotions
- Paused billing agreements
- Free group events or online training
#2. COMMUNICATE TRANSPARENTLY
In a world of conjecture and ambiguous statements, now is the perfect time to solidify deeper relationships with your team and customers. Hopefully, you have more clarity on what’s possible after reframing the questions you’re asking.Â
Because let’s be real – everyone is “monitoring the situation as it develops.”Â
If such messaging is the extent of your internal and external conversations, you’ll needÂ to to do better.Â
“Now is the time to be transparent.“
Let your employees know where things stand, what steps you’ve taken, and what you’re planning to do next.
Let your customers know you understand the challenges they’re facing, and tell them how you’ll work with them. Demonstrate you are a partner in these tough times, not just a vendor.
Leave the fear mongering and nefarious price gouging to weaker competitors. The world needs strong leaders right now – in all sectors. We’re all in this together, and this is your chance to prove your brand understands the need for cooperation.Â
#3. KEEP MARKETING!Â
We understand you might expect we would encourage this. As a digital agency, of course, we rely on clients to keep advertising and marketing their brands. But that’s not why we advise mostÂ businesses to continue their marketing programs. There are really important reasons to maintain marketing during times like these.Â
Just as people sell stocks when the markets head south, some business owners pull back marketing budgets in times of uncertainty.
You should not do that.
In the example of stock sell-offs (like we are seeing right now), savvy investors swoop in and capitalize on lower prices.
A very similar concept holds true with your marketing. The fact that other businesses are pulling back (or pausing) their marketing efforts also presents similar opportunities.
More ad inventory and cheaper clicks may become available… Meaning better and more affordable opportunities to connect with and engage your ideal audience.
It’s also an important opportunity to demonstrate steadiness, confidence, community commitment, and many other important brand attributes.Â
Consider your customers’ needs now and be theÂ brand that’s delivering great info, relevant products, or services right now.
Right now, you have a critical opportunity to:Â
- Interact with and potentially grow your audience…
- Expand your brand and outpace your competition…
- Engage customers in positive, meaningful ways…
Simply by being top of mind and being ethical and relatable, businesses can position well to be helpful now and sell more as people adjust to whatever “new normal” we find in the weeks and months ahead.
“Customer-first” is a well-worn mantra and one that should by now be internalized by every business. The notion is foundational to AIMCLEAR‘s ethos, because we’ve always put our clients first.
We’re evaluating each of our clients’ current market challenges and working with them to develop strategies to address how they can maintain and grow their businesses – by asking the types of questions noted above.Â
Hopefully this post helps others grappling with the changes and challenges we’re facing for the near future.
Stay present, stay true to your ethics, and communicate with transparency.Â
Put your people and your customers ahead of your profits, and continue to market your amazing business.Â
When possible, support the local businesses in your area as well. Restaurants that provide delivery or pickup, or the local florist, a mom & pop store, or any of the countless local businesses in your community all need your help. We all know that even small transactions add up to economic vitality.Â Â
We will get through this together.Â