Boris Johnson gave his press conference on Monday to confirm what we were all expecting, lockdown. A full lockdown. Gut-wrenching as it felt, we all know we need to go into lockdown again to stop the spread of this horrendous virus and save lives.
So what should a business in the South East do to respond today? We see key three decision areas for businesses this week.
1. Lockdown Triage
Cashflow is king. Unpleasant as it is, every business will first have to ask itself whether it can keep going as is, should mothball itself for two or three months, or increase its activities in areas where it can effectively.
Essential services such as hospitals, electricity supply, the post, delivery vans, and supermarkets will largely continue as before, perhaps with enhanced hygiene procedures. Restaurants with may well decide that – with the existing government support programmes – it is better for cashflow to mothball to March or even April. One of our local pubs already made that tough decision after Christmas, for example.
Most small businesses will want to find ways to keep trading in a way that generates positive cash flow, and this may require significant and probably long-lasting changes to their business model. It should be no surprise that this means embracing online business models and enhancing your ongoing virtual communications.
So you need to do more online. What does this mean for your business?
Take action to help new customers (that you want) find you.
This is so much more than having a website. It’s about knowing how well your site stands out in a constellation of competitors, and about optimising (from both a sales/marketing budget and a technical perspective) how customers find and reach you. Getting this right requires time, effort, and a good strategy for prioritising both.
The most successful companies we’ve seen augment and complement their existing design and in-house marketing expertise with a trusted partner who can help sort through and organise the actions that will prove most effective, and provide any additional resources needed to implement any identified changes. I’ve personally seen how well this works at companies like low-cost green energy supplier Energifix, or Sussex estate agent Marcus Grimes.
Find new ways to build greater loyalty from your existing customers.
Whether your existing customers are other businesses or consumers (or both!), it’s important to retain their emotional connection and their loyalty to your business. In the business world, and especially in lockdown, this almost always means an ongoing, respectful, virtual conversation, so that you are quickly aware of your customers’ needs and constantly finding ways to better serve them, and thus retain their loyalty.
Our most successful clients have managed this by providing regular, timely, and relevant content to their existing customers, thus serving them better and being the first to know about additional business opportunities when they arise. They have a coherent Content Strategy which allows them to confidently make the right level of financial commitment towards increasing loyalty, finding the upsell opportunities, and reducing customer churn in these challenging times. The UK and international legal firm Proelium Law is a great example.
If you can get these three decisions right – on top of the things that your business already does well today – then the current lockdown does not have to derail cashflow growth in 2021. And the future looks a little brighter.
Stephen Clark is a CIM marketing professionals Speaker and Trainer, and a senior marketing professional with extensive B2B and B2C experience in both the UK and international markets. He is currently a Partner and part of the leadership team at Pier 9 Marketing.