Running and managing your a small business is difficult and not for everyone. These days, it has become even harder as the world adapts to the face of a global pandemic and "the new normal." All industries are having to learn how to operate under the limitations of social distancing.
The crisis can be viewed as an opportunity for you and your employees to learn how to maintain productivity, even when working from home. Experts suggest the coronavirus is accelerating the growth of business everywhere.
First, Remain Calm and Avoid Panic
Perhaps the most important thing you can do in light of this pandemic is to keep your cool. It's natural to have some anxious or panicky feelings when something like this is happening on a worldwide scale. Still, if you want to keep your business afloat and prosperous, focus on the facts first.
When it comes to the coronavirus, it seems as though statistics are changing every day. It's okay to feel uncertain when you're not sure if your business can even go back to "normal" before the end of 2020. Remember, though, to be realistic about adapting your business model in the short-term.
Before you take any significant action in response to the coronavirus, take a minute to breathe. Accept that things are going to have to change. Prepare to empower your employees and your consumers to keep moving forward with you, too.
What Is Your Business Going to Have to Adjust Due to the Coronavirus?
Once you've taken a moment to orient to today's new normal for business, it's time for action. The fact is, no matter what product or service you sell, business is going to look a little bit different. When it comes to "essential" workers and business, there's no exception.
After all, consider the following statistic about work locations in the face of the coronavirus. It indicates that two-thirds of American employers are encouraging their employees to work from home. In other words, you might have to consider moving your employees to remote working spaces, too.
Moving to remote work means several things for you and your team of employees. For one thing, your main office or physical business location might not be necessary or even available.
Close up shop, turn off all of the lights, and consider if you need to even re-open this physical location after the pandemic. You might find that the coronavirus has brought about a realization that remote work is just as effective for your business model.
Speaking of that remote work, ensure your employees have all of the tools and resources they need to succeed. Be willing to invest in reliable remote collaborative and project management software solutions. Take the time to encourage remote team bonding even if it's more challenging than normal.
At the end of the day, your company can't be successful unless your employees stick with you. That's why it's so important to keep them in the loop every step of the way.
Be Transparent with Your Consumers and Your Employees
In fact, prioritizing transparent communication with your employees will be essential. Keep in mind that they are stressed and perhaps just as panicked about this global pandemic. They know that many Americans have lost their jobs due to the limitations of social distancing on business.
That's why even the Harvard Business Review encourages company-wide transparency these days. As soon as your upper-tier management team has a plan, share it with the rest of the organization. They don't deserve to get blindsided with company-wide layoffs, for instance.
How many people are going to be able to work from home in this uncertain time? Will there be any employee furloughs as a result of the coronavirus?
These are questions that your employees are going to want to know as soon as possible. It's your responsibility, though, to ensure you communicate the reality of your business's situation no matter how difficult.
In addition, think about what you're going to tell your loyal consumer audience about this pandemic. Are there certain products or services that you aren't going to be able to offer in this time of social distancing? How can you develop a marketing campaign that is both realistic and encouraging to spread the word?
Remember, it's not in your best interest to pretend as if everything can go on as normal. Your customers deserve to know what they can expect as far as reliability from your business. Maintaining the attention of those loyal customers will be invaluable for your profit margins in the long run.
Invest in Your Employees So They Will Invest in You
As mentioned above, there are some strategic remote team building activities you can take advantage of. Don't underestimate the value of investing in your employees. This is true even if you're stressed out to the maximum trying to adapt to this global plague.
Even if you have to let go of a few nonessential employees to stay open, don't fire everyone! For one thing, doing so might minimize your chance of getting any government assistance for your business.
There's also no need to throw the baby out with the bathwater. You don't want to lose your business's top employee talent just because you panicked and didn't want to pay their salaries.
Instead, try to find a solution that your employees are on board with, too. Perhaps just cutting their hours might help maintain business profits without letting your employees go without a job.
No matter what employee retention strategy you decide is best, your work won't stop there. Since modern times are so uncertain, your employees might need more support than ever to maintain their productivity.
That's why investing in those remote team building activities could be so worthwhile. Another option is to offer continued training and education for your employees. If it's clear that you're willing to invest in them, they'll be more likely to stick around and invest in your business in return.
Your Consumer Audience Should Remain Your Top Priority
It's true that maintaining your loyal and productive employees is a vital strategy in the wake of the coronavirus. Otherwise, your business wouldn't be adapting to the current times at all. On top of that, though, don't forget about investing in those loyal consumers, too!
In fact, losing your consumer base could very easily spell the death of your business itself. Without them, there would be no sales and, therefore, no profits. So, how is this crisis opportunity going to allow your business to connect with its loyal consumer base?
Well, it could be wise for you to get familiar with the concept of the overall "consumer experience." In other words, analyze every single platform in which a consumer might interact with your brand. This includes everything from online shopping to social media.
In each of those experiences, what about your business is unique compared to your market competitors? What stands out about your brand's overall consumer experience?
As unfortunate as a worldwide pandemic is, don't let it put too much distance between you and your consumers. Figure out how you can build a bridge - even a digital one - with your marketing strategies. Check out this consumer experience model to get a better idea of how to orient your own business.
It's Understandable to Focus on Digital Marketing Strategies More
In times of social distancing, marketing strategies for all businesses have had to adjust. Maybe it doesn't make sense for your business to invest in physical promotional products. Instead of wasting money on flyers and branded coffee mugs, turn towards digital marketing.
People are on their smartphones more than ever before. They're looking for businesses and brands that align with their core values and beliefs. Are you doing everything you can to ensure your business is reaching your ideal online users?
If you want to rise above the crisis that is a global pandemic, take a look at existing marketing techniques. In fact, a company-wide marketing audit might be in your best interest. That way, you can ensure that all of your marketing resources and energy is being directed towards potential profit.
Perhaps that's where our brand marketing and development services can benefit your business. We encourage you to reach out to us if you're ready to take your digital marketing campaigns to another level.
Social Media Is About Genuine Connectivity - Not Promotion
It's true that your overall marketing plan should focus on digital strategies more than ever before. It's understandable to value posting on social media more than printing out flyers, for instance. Still, if you're going to try your hand at more social media marketing, be smart about it.
Social media marketing for businesses is about more than posting selfies with witty captions. Social media is a tool for developing a genuine online following loyal to your business brand. Social media is the real "opportunity" for your business to shine these days.
It's also a great platform to handle any potential questions or concerns everyday consumers might have. Studies show that answering a complaint on social media increases customer advocacy by 25%.
When you're logged into your business's social media accounts, be intentional. Don't just try to bring in more sales - try to bring in more loyal consumers. Plus, the more they trust your brand, the more likely they'll be to recommend it to others!
Don't Forget to Uphold Safe and Healthy Workplace Practices
There's yet another key factor to consider to make this global crisis work for your business: safety. Whether your employees are working from home or at the business location, they deserve to stay safe and protected.
It's your responsibility as their employer to provide them with the resources they need to stay safe on the job. How can you enforce workplace practices that keep everyone safe even after the limits of social distancing have been lifted? In addition, how can you protect customers that do have to come to your business's physical location?
Remember to Think About the Future After the Pandemic, Too
Adjusting your business to a global pandemic is, in essence, going to be a never-ending process. The "new normal" is going to be established, sure. If you want to keep your business afloat and relevant for many years to come, though, your work isn't over yet.
It's important to keep in mind what your business will look like after the pandemic has settled. Likely, businesses will remain more digitally focused and competent if they want to stay competitive.
You and your team of employees should have a constant check-in to reorient company practices in these uncertain times. Doing so will help you stay stable and secure throughout the future even after the coronavirus.
Hire Experts to Develop a Crisis Opportunity Marketing Solution
You can prevent losing your entire company if you're willing and ready to adapt. And you can withstand this tumultuous time while maintaining your profit margins.
Still, it's worthwhile to seek expert industry guidance when it comes to navigating this new normal. This is of particular importance to ensure your marketing messages are current, relevant, and respectful.
If you'd like to learn some of the methods that The Wagner Agency is leveraging for its clients during this unpredictable time, please click below.