“I have come to regard advertising as part of the product, to be treated as a production cost, not a selling cost. It follows that it should not be cut back when times are hard, any more than you would stint any other essential ingredient in your product.”
~ David Ogilvy
What Do You Do When ‘Business as Usual’ Simply Isn’t Possible?
When your market changes, you need to find innovative ways to meet their needs. This may mean:
- Expanding to accommodate radically increasing demand without compromising quality;
- Brainstorming for new avenues of service or delivery;
- Creating new products and services to fit the new model;
- Offering a modular approach to fit strained budgets;
- Restructuring to meet government demands and regulations;
- … or an endless set of other possible approaches.
You can’t simply ignore the situation and hope that it will disappear or wait for things to get better… And taking time to grieve right now is an acknowledgement that you’re beaten. To paraphrase one of my favourite fictional leaders, “The danger is that all we have done until now may be in vain… There may be time to grieve when we have won through to the Light.”
This is a time for strategic thought, speedy action, courageous leadership, and the self-reliance you’d bring to any other challenge. This is why now is the time to double down on your marketing and advertising and make sure that your messaging is laser sharp.
The Importance of Speed and Leadership
Speed is always important, but it’s critical in the midst of uncertainty and chaos because it helps you understand where your market is hurting and also provides an opportunity to connect and encourage others.
I was talking to a friend who was planning to launch a course for property investors around navigating the current market and managing their assets. His Mastermind Group suggested that since putting together a course takes time and speed is critical, he should start with something he could offer immediately. He took their advice and offered:
- An investors checklist for immediate download (free);
- An online assessment ($10.00) – segmenting people into appropriate groups;
- Triage program ($97) – action to take based on your completed checklist and assessment;
- Priority Access to the course at a special price and additional bonuses.
Within 4 days, with no paid promotion, he had 800 downloads, 643 assessments, 407 triage signups, and 178 paid registrations for his $1,500 course!
Had he waited to perfect his product he might have missed out on this opportunity to reassure investors and help them take the appropriate actions to manage their portfolios during this uncertainty.
Care for Your Existing Customers
Depending on your market segment it may not be appropriate to sell them anything, but you can always reach out and offer them encouragement and let them feel appreciated.
Even if (especially if?) you are flat out managing increased demand, this is the perfect time to send your long time loyal customers an acknowledgement by mail (or email, if you have to). You might send:
- Small gifts;
It doesn’t need to be complicated… Just along the lines of: “Thinking of you amidst all the chaos. Hope you are well. Thanks for supporting us. Is there anything we can do for you?”
No matter what business you are in, these are stressful times, and we all know that whatever the government gives today we, or our children, will pay for tomorrow.
Holding the Line on Your Market
Last week I listened to a presentation by a highly respected business coach that made me angry. He was talking about changing your message to grow your market share in these times. Here are a few of the reasons I disagreed with him:
- Market share does not equal profitability (unless you’re Coca Cola/Pepsi) so it’s not a critical measure.
- Most SMBs are looking for high quality, qualified clients. Changing your messaging to attract a wider spectrum of prospects will cause you to either a. Waste your time talking to unqualified prospects; or b. Erode your morale and profits by working with less suitable people. Don’t do it!
- If your message is currently attracting the people with whom you want to work then you might want to add additional options at the upper and lower ends, but don’t change your message… unless you want to change your target market long term.
This will pass although we can’t say exactly what the near and distant future will look like. Stay focused on your dreams and goals and keep taking action to move them forward.