As a business owner, it’s hard to know how to respond during an economic downturn. And it’s a drastic understatement to say that the current economic situation we’re in is a bit, well, unprecedented in that regard.
Should you hunker down, cut costs, and be defensive? Or is it better to be playing offense during a crisis like this?
Short answer: yes. Yes, you should play defense and protect yourself. But you also need to be thinking offensively, too, or you’re going to be struggling to adjust when things get back to something closer to “normal.”
Historically, the most successful companies are able to quickly switch between offense and defense — while always doing a bit of both.
How exactly do you do that? The tough part is learning when you should do each, how to transition, and gaining the ability to juggle both mindsets at the same time.
In regards to playing offense during a crisis specifically, here are some questions related to marketing and sales that you should ask yourself:
Is it worth increasing my marketing spend right now to grow market share?
The conventional logic right now is to pull back until the worst passes. After all, no one is spending money right now anyway, right?
First off, that last part isn’t true. While there are certainly lots of people hurting financially, others may actually have more disposable income. Because they were able to hang on to their jobs. And they aren’t spending as much because there simply isn’t as much to spend on. Meaning it is still possible to make sales.
So, even if your income is down, it may still be worth your while to market your business now. If you can afford it.
Why? Because so many other businesses aren’t! In other words, there’s a lot less competition right now for people’s attention.
Play your cards right and you could emerge from this in a far stronger position than when it started. Definitely from a branding perspective. And possibly even financially if you can find creative revenue streams.
Does my target audience have more time on their hands? How can that help me?
Pretty sure you already know the answer to the first question. In all but a few cases, the answer is likely yes.
And while it is terrible that so many people are stuck home, it also presents an opportunity. Because they’re both bored and stressed out. They’re exhausted from dealing with the kids 24/7. Or being unable to stop themselves from reading every COVID-19 update out there.
If you can provide them with content that distracts and entertains them. That helps them to do something useful or feel better about themselves. That reduces the friction between roommates or family members by even a fraction.
They. Are going. To love you.
More importantly, they’re going to remember you and your business.
This is one of the best ways of playing offense during a crisis because it goes back to the branding we mentioned above. But if you find the right product or service, it can even net you sales right now.
If I change from in-person customer meetings to remote ones, does that mean I can do more?
This one is obvious, right? Yes. Quite simply, if you eliminate things like drive-time and other time-sucks, it’s possible to squeeze in more meetings.
Which, depending on your business, is very likely to mean more revenue. So if you haven’t already started offering virtual meeting services… why not?
Should I transition from a la carte purchases and short-term plans to longer, more guaranteed ones?
If you can? Absolutely!
Many businesses appreciate surges related to the seasons, holidays, or other factors. But a steady income flow is always better. Because you don’t have to worry about surviving the “famine” times so you can reach the “feasts.”
Right now is a perfect time to play around with subscription models and see what resonates with customers.
Is it worth reaching out to customers right now to get their feedback on how we can improve?
Sure is. As mentioned above, a lot more people are a lot more available right now.
Even if they wouldn’t normally think it “fun” to answer a survey or write a review of your business, things have changed. You can even sweeten the pot a bit by offering a freebie or discount. Moreover, reaching out to them in this way allows you to stay top-of-mind without being salesy.
You may end up discovering quite a few able and willing brand ambassadors.
Is it worth offering a product or service for free right now when people are spending less?
This is one that many businesses struggle with, and we get it. If you offer your services for free now, how can you expect people to pay later… or actually make money in the meantime.
The key lies in making your freebie feel like the tip of the iceberg. Yes, you’re giving this thing away for free, but if they pay, they’re going to get something even better. The freebie then becomes a sales tool that helps you to convert people. Just be careful not to treat it that way.
What does that mean?
Don’t make the freebie into a commercial for your “real” products or services. You can mention the “better” paid stuff a bit, and should always provide people with the option of upgrading. But keep the salesy part in the background. And focus on providing value.
That way, they’ll want to upgrade when they can.
Do these specific ideas work for everyone?
No. Some businesses truly can’t afford to pay to market themselves right now. Others may not feel like any of these “offense” strategies apply to their specific industry or model.
Both of those viewpoints are completely fair. But there are plenty of ways around them that still allow you to use an offensive strategy. And you really should try.
Because the overall point is that businesses that are able to keep promoting themselves now. To keep their connection with their customers and remain top-of-mind. Those are the businesses that are going to be poised for the most success on the other side of this.
Want to talk more about playing offense during a crisis and coming up with a personalized strategy for your business? Reach out. Even those with tight budgets can find something that works for them, and we’re happy to help.