As of March 24th, 2020, 38% of businesses across the United States reported that they were forced to cancel major, revenue-driving events, conferences, and meetings because of COVID-19.
You may be thinking,
“That’s unfortunate, but it doesn’t really affect me. My business doesn’t do events.”
Well, good for you. Your business may not be reliant on events for publicity and revenue, but it does rely on something to get your brand out there and keep your cash flow alive. (I know, I know, I’m insightful, right? And hilarious. Glad you agree!)
Here’s my question for you:
“Is your approach to marketing adapted to the new normal of COVID-19, or are you just treading water, trying not to drown?”
As strategic marketers, 8 Signal is always trying to think one step ahead. (Ideally more like three, but hey, sometimes I get tired.) Because of this, we’ve noticed two key business processes that most companies are struggling to maintain — processes that companies could have implemented solutions for before the virus ever appeared… but they didn’t.
Now, as a business owner myself, I’m not faulting anyone for being cautious and — let’s be real — incredibly busy. (Overwhelmed, exhausted, beat-up, worn down… I’ll find the right word.)
Because business owners didn’t focus on strategies that seemed irrelevant a few months ago, they’re learning an expensive lesson right now. In a few moments, I’ll share an example that’s close to home — literally.
None of us can go back in time to get prepared for what’s already happened. Like the old saying goes, “The best time to plant an oak tree is 30 years ago. The second best time is today.” So if you missed out on the best time, don’t miss the second-best. Let’s get to planting that tree with these two important steps:
- Create an approach to marketing adapted to the new normal of COVID-19.
- Develop a future-focused mindset, allowing us to look ahead in solving upcoming problems before they knock us down.
Here’s the amazing thing: we can do both at the same time! Are you ready to learn how to simultaneously adapt to the present and prepare for the future? I hope so, because I’m ready to show you!
Two Key Marketing Processes You Need to Adapt
As the discipline of finance and investing has taught us, the rule for decreasing risk can be summed up in one word: diversify. When you diversify specific aspects of your business, it protects you from placing all your eggs in one basket.
Because that basket could be dropped into a pandemic, stuck at home for months on end.
Here are two business processes that I recommend diversifying today so your business can implement marketing adapted to the new normal, consequently shielding your business from future problems:
While driving down the barren streets of El Paso, I’ve noticed restaurants with banners on the outside of their buildings that provide information about their current menu, discounts, and carryout/delivery options.
However, I haven’t had a single restaurant reach out to me via text, email, or social media with this information. I have seen a few local restaurants post a handful of times on Facebook, but that’s it.
And that’s crazy! I want this information from these restaurants because I enjoy supporting local businesses, but as the customer, I have to do all the work. And most customers are not going to put in that work.
These restaurants relied on their customers’ physical presence in order to communicate with them, and that’s too shortsighted. And believe you me: when I point a finger at local restaurants during my short four-minute commute between my home and the office, I’m quite aware that I’m pointing at least three fingers back at me — while fighting the urge to point one very large finger from the other hand at myself as well!
(I know what you’re thinking: “Did Ruben finally get the driverless car he’s always dreamed of?” Nope, technology isn’t there yet. But one day…)
What about you? How are you communicating with your clients, and how often do you reach out to them?
Here’s your homework:
- Connect with your team and come up with three different methods of communication for your business. Here are a few to get you started:
- Social media
- In-person interaction (with proper social distancing practices)
- Write a blog post — like this one 😉
- Online forums
- Carrier pigeon
- Business partnerships
- Message in a bottle
- Smoke signals (but on second thought, maybe not. The neighbors will call the fire department. They’re home all day for some reason…)
- Reach out to your customers via your three channels (if possible) to get feedback on how you can improve your service with them during COVID-19.
Then, with your homework completed, it’s time to move on to the second business operation you need to diversify:
You haven’t had much of a choice with this one recently.
However, we’re not talking about the mandatory changes you’ve made to your business operations. For example, everyone’s getting online right now because everyone has to be online to survive. That means “getting online” isn’t enough to qualify as “diversifying your operations” — we have to take it a step further.
Specifically, we have to answer the question,
“How is your business’s online presence going to stand out from everyone else?”
This is the time to pull your team together and innovate how you can explore new operational options that align with your business goals.
Here are a few examples:
- Maybe you can pull a side-project into focus and brainstorm how it can provide additional revenue.
- What if you offered a new product or service that solves a new challenge your customers are experiencing? (A benefit of completing the customer communication homework — aren’t we consistent?)
- Can you send physical letters or direct mailing to clients to serve as physical reminders that you’re still around to connect with them?
- How can you smooth out the work-from-home experience for your team so that remote capabilities will add value to your business far beyond COVID-19?
And don’t limit the innovation to just online diversification. Though “getting online” is the current example of everyone’s approach to create marketing adapted to the new normal, we want to do more than just adapt.
We want to diversify our operations for what’s coming next.
So, what are other out-of-the-box, no-one’s-thinking-like-this-during-a-pandemic ideas that your company can capitalize on?
Adapt to the present, focus on the future
When it comes down to it, businesses are scrambling to do things now that they should have been doing when things were good. And if that’s your situation, I don’t want to discourage you. In fact, quite the opposite — 8 Signal is here to support your business as we all adapt in order to survive in the new normal.
I’m here to take the “adapt” mentality for your business a step further so that when the good times come back and we all catch a breath, you can rest easy knowing your business’s new future-focused mindset will demolish any upcoming problems.
And lastly, if something I talked about in this post sparked a question (or 1,000), please, please don’t wait to ask my team and I about it. I can’t wait to connect!