Don't overlook customers in planning your business' response to COVID-19
The government and the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) have both announced a number of support measures for business; to read more about these measures click here. All impacted businesses should be aware of how the government measures will apply to them and they should work out whether there are any of the ATO concessions should be sought.
It will be a natural response for businesses to look to cut costs and overheads. This is a valid measure but would need to be implemented so that operating capacity was not permanently impaired. It should also not be the only response and I encourage all businesses to also look at operational efficiencies they can implement and for ways that income can be boosted. When the pie (which is the amount spent in the market where your business operates) shrinks, then your objective is for your share of the smaller pie to be bigger.
The ways you can get messages out to existing and prospective customers will vary. It could be from more customers in your traditional markets or it could be by marketing to customers in related or different markets. An example of this is how a number of pizza shops are now offering wings, deserts, soft drinks and nachos as well as pizza. Businesses supplying goods and services to customers’ homes could offer to provide these to business premises, and goods and services previously designed for businesses could be modified to suit private customers and householders.
Some businesses do not use social media. Now is a good time to get going if it will connect to customers. If you have it already, now is a good time to put more resources into it. There are some organisations who can assist you with all of this this, such as our long-time partner and advisers Pure Social.
If you have a shop or other business premises, you have the opportunity for signage. If you have previous customers, then you can start a conversation with them. Perhaps that is by social media; maybe it is a mail out or it could be just by calling them.
To read a real life example of a business doing marketing right during Victoria's lock-down read click here
Changing your service
It could be from offering a different service to existing customers. If you have a customer relationship and mechanism to provide goods or services to them, what else can you provide? That could be servicing cars at customer’s workplaces or homes, rather than in a workshop. It could be by offering car cleaning or detailing services or tyres as well as mechanical. These might be provided by the business’ existing workforce or by arrangement with another business.
Some businesses could join networks or other distribution channels. Restaurants and cafes might want to look at home delivery options if they are not already doing this. Other businesses with home-based customers could think about how they could replicate the ‘Uber Eats or Deliveroo experience’. Streets, small shopping centres, small towns or geographical areas could form a single ‘brand’ and jointly market their location.
There will be no ‘one size fits all’ solution and some businesses will find it very hard to boost income. The examples I have given above are just illustrations of a creative mindset to look at all options rather than just cutting back on staff or other “costs” as the business’ sole response. Extensive activity across the board will produce the best results. In the words of the immortal John Kennedy:
"Don't think, don't hope, do! Do something!"