The world has suddenly become a pretty scary place for a lot of small businesses. With major events being cancelled, many schools and universities closed, and the global economy in flux, the rapid spread of Covid-19 is having a growing impact on communities, businesses and supply chains, write Brandcrush CEO and co-founder, Teresa Aprile.
Around the world, people are bracing for a recession and consumers are putting a sudden halt on any non-essential spending. Many bars, restaurants, shops and gyms are closing their doors — some temporarily, and some indefinitely. This is seeing many small business owners faced with tough decisions: How will their supply chains be affected? For how long can they continue operating if things continue to worsen? What happens if employees need to self-isolate? This is an unprecedented situation that is changing by the day, and it’s easy to understand why many are panicking.
When disaster strikes there is a natural human instinct to freeze in place. And it makes total sense — with so many things up in the air, bunkering down feels like the safest thing to do.
Unfortunately, though, this pandemic and the effect it’s having on the world isn’t going to blow over anytime soon. Rather than going into hiding, businesses need to keep moving and find new ways to meet the changing needs of their customer base. When the old ways don’t work we need to find new ways. Those prepared to pivot fast towards new opportunities, to continue to invest in marketing, and to stay connected with their consumer base, will not only survive this crisis — they’ll thrive.
Here are just a few of the key things small businesses should be doing right now:
- Keep communicating. Now is not the time to disappear. If you’re losing your physical presence with customers temporarily, stay connected with them through social media or email. Be reassuring and don’t forget: our human need for connection doesn’t change just because of a crisis. In fact, many will be craving this connection more than ever right now. This is an uncertain time for lots of people and an important opportunity for you to build relationships beyond transactions.
- Plan the plan. Hope for the best… but plan for the worst. While it can feel counterintuitive to waste time on planning when responsiveness is so critical, a good plan will set you up to stay focussed and free up space for more agility as this crisis continues to unfold. Plan for the short, mid and long-term. Make media plans, communication plans, and develop new strategies like loyalty plans that can bolster those customer relationships.
- Get creative. Keep your eyes open for emerging opportunities and think about ways that your business model can evolve to operate under these new conditions. We’ve already seen members of our Activation Host community finding new ways to still serve the clientele they might not be able to physically see right now — like fitness studios streaming online. We are excited to now be offering a growing number of “phygital” experiences via our platform, helping brands collaborate with these businesses.
- Now is a time for brands and businesses to stick together. Look beyond your own backyard and think about the other businesses you could potentially work with to service customers in new ways. While some industries suffer, others will experience a massive boom, like rideshare services and home delivery for food and other goods. This will create many incredible opportunities for brand and business collaborations.
- Get ready for the comeback. While you might have to lighten staffing or scale back production in the short-term, make sure you are ready to hit the ground running when things start to look up again. This situation will pass and when it does, customers will be eager to get back into normal life asap.
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