Preparing for the Comeback
My heart goes out to the many victims of this horrible virus. I feel deeply and genuinely for those who are struggling to heal, whether physically, emotionally, or financially. At this writing, there is still a lot of work to be done to eradicate this deadly virus. I pray you will be safe, act wisely, and love well from a distance.
The good news is, this present crisis will end, and in many cases, businesses will skyrocket. Even in a “normal” recession, demand for many products and services remains high. In a post-pandemic environment, pent-up demand will result in record sales for many businesses.
Be out there.
Businesses who advertise in slow times make huge leaps in brand recognition. That translates to sales when the market returns. Don’t fall for the idea that you need to stop all advertising during slow times. Strategically adjust your media, refocus your message, reduce your budget- but don’t go dark. If you disappear, so will your brand equity. Then when things come back, you’ll have to start all over again to rebuild your position in the market, except now you will have to do it while everyone else is too. Rates will be higher and your share of voice will be lower. It’s cheaper, in the long run, to stay active in downtimes than to try to out-shout others when times are good.
Don’t wait till the market comes alive to plan. Weeks, and even days, make a difference. Decide now on what you want to sell to whom, for how much, what the message will be, and begin preparing your marketing materials. Do you need to update your website? Brochures? Social Media? Promo materials? You’ll want to hit the ground running.
Build your plan now.
Focus on offering a few products or services that you believe will be most in-demand and that are most profitable for you.
Focus your offering.
Resist the urge to be exactly who you were before the pandemic- observe, listen, anticipate, ask- then deliver what they want, not just what you want. Streamline your business to accommodate what’s hot. A limited menu, a focus on service vs product, or providing answers from your expertise will keep you relevant and profitable.
Provide exceptional customer service.
The need and demand for exceptional customer service will be at an all-time high. If you don’t have a customer experience strategy, get one. Keeping customers is cheaper and more fun than getting new ones, and kept customers get new ones for you if you do it right. Customer experience is about creating an emotional connection with your customer. If they don’t feel you, they are at risk of leaving you.
You have to invest but invest wisely. Start with a number you know is a stretch but won’t destroy you. Good marketing has ROI, but you need to define what the ROI is before you start. Is it sales or brand recognition? Do you have a marketing funnel? How much time will you allot to accomplishing the goal? (Warning: The days of just “running some ads” and getting calls have pretty much disappeared. You need a coordinated, strategic marketing effort. Running ads may be a part of that, but consumers are savvy and they live in a cooperative world of multiple connection points, so you need touchpoints that make sense and lead the consumer to your “door.”
Set a budget.
We touched on this a little earlier, but the point here is to create messaging that is laser-focused on what you want as an outcome. If you’re selling tires in a post-pandemic world, you may want to consider shaping your message to “Commuting again? Stay safe with new treads!” and offer lifetime service on the purchase of 2 or more tires, etc.
Refine your message.
One last note:
Stay positive. People will buy again. You will have customers again. Nobody wants to buy from someone who’s desperate. You have value to offer your clients and customers.
Create it. Believe it. Show it.