During the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses are looking for ways to cut costs and improve outcomes for their business, both immediately and when the pandemic comes to an end. In addition to the challenges your business might be facing, you must also consider how the decisions you make now will impact your business later.
Treat Now as a Time of Investment in Your Business
Right now, it may be a uniquely difficult time for your business, but it's also a period of investment: an opportunity to pour into your business for future returns. You may not have immediate returns on those investments, but they will reap immense rewards for your business in the aftermath of this public health emergency. Depending on the decisions you make now your business could experience a better lift when returning to regular operations, deeper connections with your customers, and more engagement with your business after this time.
As you decide how to handle your budget during this crisis, invest in your future through:
Your marketing. Your marketing right now is an opportunity to stay top-of-mind for your current and prospective customers. Consider the way brands like Bounty handled the 2008 recession: instead of pulling back, they continued to pour money into both their high-end brands and their lower-end lines. As a result, Bounty retained a corner of the market and saw immense gains in popularity once the recession came to an end.
We’re seeing this same trend across businesses of all sizes right now as they make decisions to set their business up for success the moment things return to “normal”.
Your employees. Your employees represent an incredibly important part of your business. Investing in them right now can help you keep your existing employees, as well as provide them with training and resources that can enable them to better provide for your business later.
Your involvement with the community. As a local brand, your place in the community is based, not only on the services you offer but on your business's place in the community as a whole. Your customers are watching to see how different businesses react during this crisis--and by making philanthropy and community a priority, you'll find that you often substantially increase customers' opinion of your brand while also having a positive impact.
Make a Financial Plan
As a result of the current circumstances, many businesses are making dramatic changes to their budgets. Most business strategists would argue that you could continue to invest in your business, but also use those funds strategically. Come up with a plan for how you will spend your budget in light of what’s going on right now. You want to prioritize marketing in ways that will benefit you now or shift your budget to allow for more effective marketing throughout this tough time and in its aftermath. However, you also want to prioritize other key business opportunities that could positively impact your business later on - this includes renovations or exploring ways to pivot your business model. You should create a new and improved financial plan that will help your business prioritize specific aspects of your spending to adjust to the new normal.
Decide what you need to spend on now and what can wait until things subside. Some spending should remain a top priority, especially in areas that you know will continue to be important to your business and your customers. Consider consulting with an experienced media partner to get a better idea of how you can shift your ad spend in the light of current events.
Take Stock of How This Will Affect Your Business Later
You have the chance to build a strong name for your business, right now. Consider:
The way you carry your business and support the community during this time can have a substantial impact as things resolve. Be sure you are communicating regularly with your customer base and being direct and honest about new hours, changes in your business, or safety precautions you’re taking.
Continuing to offer value can help customers see you in a positive light later. Approaching it this way forges your relationship with your customers more than ever before. Many businesses are going the extra mile for their customers, which will create a positive association that, in turn, will make your customers more likely to support your business in the future. By adding value, you will stand out over your competitors, both now and in the future.
While it might feel “safer” to not spend your marketing dollars now, it’s important that you determine what your goals are for the weeks and months to come and build a marketing plan around what you need to achieve. Then, make decisions around that. Consider these ideas and tactics and you’ll be on your way to making the best decision for your business and ensuring your business is set up for success on the other side of this.