Every business is in the same boat right now: They’re all wondering how best to ride the economic shockwaves caused by the coronavirus pandemic. But they needn’t feel like they’re going to capsize at any moment because hope is on the horizon.
Fact is, consumers are still buying even as shelter-in-place regulations are being reassessed, which is good news. At the same time, buyers are being selective and not as brand loyal as they were before. In fact, according to McKinsey research, no fewer than 75% of consumers are making purchases from different suppliers than they dealt with before COVID-19.
This reveals a double-edged sword if you’re an owner, founder, or executive. On the one hand, you may be in a position to introduce your goods and services to new markets. On the other hand, you risk losing previously loyal customers to the competition and unexpected disruptors. Regardless, you need to keep hitting your revenue projections month after month.
With so many moving parts and expectations, it’s easy to lose focus on what really matters. Yet it’s important that you continue full steam ahead, even if you’re not 100% certain what lies ahead. To help you stay the course, make sure you’re concentrating your efforts in these four areas as you work to retain and build your buyer base, as well as keep personnel engaged.
1. Seek innovative ways to minimize your cash outlay without making too many sacrifices.
No surprise here: Most companies have cut corners as the economic uncertainties caused by coronavirus continue to make ripples worldwide. But tightening your belt doesn’t have to mean losing your intrinsic brand quality or downsizing your core staff. Look for ways to reduce your spending that won’t affect your business’s reputation or cause employees to feel like they’re getting the short end of the stick.
One proven method to pay less for the items you need involves joining a group purchasing organization (GPO) to improve your purchasing strategy. GPOs do the negotiating on your behalf, leaving you with more time to devote to other areas of your business and less time wondering about procurement.
Another way to save money could be to allow some or all of your remote workers to continue telecommuting. As long as you can continue operations efficiently and without causing friction with customers, you could reduce your office rent costs quite a bit.
2. Focus on innovative, cost-effective marketing solutions.
Because consumers have changed their buying behaviors, you’ll need to update your marketing strategies accordingly. Begin by evaluating your competition to see what other businesses seem to be doing well. Then, take what you learn and tweak your marketing efforts.
Ideally, any marketing changes you make will need to be both strategic and measurable. Otherwise, you may have trouble determining what’s working and what’s not. For instance, if you decide to ramp up your social media marketing, be sure you know what figures are most important to track, such as followers or engagement. That way, you’ll know when you’re moving toward success thanks to your baselines.
What types of marketing are working currently? Emotions-based marketing is a technique used by brands across many channels to build long-term relationships. It drives an authentic connection with the audience through messaging vehicles such as videos and articles. And when customers feel a camaraderie or even friendship with your brand, they’re more likely to buy more, write reviews, and send referrals your way.
3. Hire new talent based on culture fit, not just experience.
Are you in a position to make some new hires toward the end of 2020? Reconsider the way that you seek and onboard team members. Someone may have the technical background or expertise you’d like, but if they’re not the right fit for your company, you’ll end up losing them or having to let them go.
How can you determine who’s going to be more likely to adapt to your culture? Ask second-stage or last-stage applicants to take an online talent assessment like Gallup’s CliftonStrengths. When used in conjunction with other advanced hiring practices like group interviews, paid pre-employment assignments, and talent assessments can assist you in figuring out who will be the best asset out of all the candidates.
Remember: You usually train the right person in a hard skill. But soft skills take longer for people to learn and apply. Therefore, if you can find someone with those soft skills like high emotional intelligence (EI) already intact, you’ll be ahead of the curve.
4. Take your standard customer service to unparalleled levels.
Chances are strong that you’ve already begun to revitalize your customer service protocols. Nevertheless, do your best to update them again and continue moving the industry bar higher and higher. Basically, your goal should be to do what your competitors aren’t doing, whether that means giving more personalized treatment to buyers or providing exceptionally loyal buyers with steep discounts.
Customer service is an area where even a startup can compete with a larger business. Simply sending handwritten thank-yous in every package could make a difference. But don’t stop getting inventive. Crowdsource customer service ideas with your team to become the standout in your field.
As a final reminder, remember that a lot of customers want to hear from their preferred brands right now. Statistics from ClickZ suggest that 43% of buyers are open to receiving constant communications from companies. This doesn’t mean that you should bombard prospects and customers with emails, or try to DM them all on social. However, you should make efforts to stay in touch, even if it’s just in small ways.
By paying attention to stewarding your resources, enhancing your marketing, amassing a winning team, and upping your customer service game, you can help take the worry out of what happens next for you and your colleagues. Plus, your employees will feel less anxious knowing that they have clear-cut directives aimed at keeping them employed and your brand top-of-mind.