Business Survival Strategies and Tips
Identifying opportunities in a downturn
We’re knee-deep into a health, economic and social crisis that has immobilized much of the country. Amid all the uncertainty, however, your business cannot afford to be at a standstill. You must develop business survival strategies.
The “Stockdale Paradox” feels right on point for our current environment. The term was coined by writer Jim Collins to describe how Admiral James Stockdale Douglas made it through 7 years in a POW camp when many of his fellow prisoners did not. Stockdale made it out of the camp and was a leader to his fellow captives, even at one point leading a prisoner uprising. When asked about the prisoners who didn’t make it, Stockdale answered “That’s easy, the optimists (didn’t make it). Oh, they were the ones who said, ‘We’re going to be out by Christmas.’ And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they’d say, ‘We’re going to be out by Easter.’ And Easter would come, and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart.”
It’s the middle ground between the disbelief that things will never get better and the somewhat-Pollyanna attitude of “Everything’s going to be OK, just give it a week” that allows our business’s survival and endurance.
If you’re not one for juxtapositions, let’s look at the business survival statistics. A McGraw-Hill study analyzed 600 companies, their marketing spending as well as the survival and growth of a business during the most recent recession. The companies that maintained or increased their advertising during this time saw an average sales growth of 275% over the five years that followed; those that cut their advertising saw paltry sales growth over the same five years of just 19%.
This article is not meant to negate or put aside our collective concern for the health of our families, friends and coworkers. But it is an opportunity to learn and implement business survival tips to leverage the downtime, keep your sales cycle moving and your funnel full.
What must a business do to survive? Pivot your strategy.
Think General Motors making ventilators. Or local distillers making hand sanitizer instead of whiskey. These companies, thankfully, are shifting their operations to respond to desperate market needs.
Not every business survival strategy can help support the greater good, but we can make changes that help our customers and prospects.
Consider a wedding dress shop who, with their storefront closed to traffic, created a virtual shopping tour. With a $100 deposit, which can be applied to a future purchase, social-distancing brides to be can “order” 5 wedding dresses to try on at home, all of which can be returned at no cost. This boutique service is novel, crisis or not, and it also creates a funnel that is easier to close. After all, these future wives are already financially invested in the shop and are therefore that much likelier to purchase a dress from them.
How does a business survive? Give a little now, reap the benefits later
A telecommunication solutions provider pivoted their existing marketing campaigns to business survival strategies by offering to help companies without a remote working solution establish one, providing their services at no cost. This company is the David to Zoom or Webex’s Goliath in the virtual-meetings space, but they are building good will and loyalty in a time of desperation. The company is betting that when the crisis is over, these businesses that they rescued for free will now remain with them to run their virtual operations.
It’s scary as a business owner to give away your time or spend money knowing the market is not robust and when all you can think about is your business’s survival. But doing nothing is not an option and sticking your head in the sand will put you far behind your competition once we’re all able to literally open our doors again to customers.
Business Survival Strategies: Finding your value add
Each company needs to come up with its own hook, identify the opportunity for them to pivot and provide value. Because it’s not about what you can do right now, but how do you prepare for the next quarter and the one after that, and even for 2021.
There are several business survival tips you can (begin to) employ or expand on right now.
- Double down on digital marketing
With most of us stuck indoors, the internet is our primary link to our customers and the rest of the world. Take advantage of social media to keep them informed and up to date on your operations. You may be surprised to learn, as I was, that the cost of Facebook advertising has not increased. It has actually gone down.
If you don’t have a social media strategy to date, don’t wait any longer. Increase your virtual presence to get in front of your customers and prospects and position yourself as a thought leader in your field and your company as the answer to their business survival needs. Start amassing new followers and email addresses to help fill that funnel.
- Look for cross-marketing ideas
What businesses do you know that share the same audience as you? Enhance your value as a thought leader by partnering with other key opinion leaders (KOLs) across the business horizon to attract new customers. Affiliate marketing has always been a powerful tool, but in this (hopefully) unique downtime, more small businesses are looking for turnkey solutions for their needs and not single-service providers.
Continue to network virtually and look to your local Chamber of Commerce and known thought-leader members for networking and cross-promotional opportunities.
- Continue to build your online brand
The marketing rule of “It takes 9 to 13 touches to reach your audience” has gone almost completely digital. No more handshakes or face-to-face meetings; right now your website is the epicenter of your marketing strategy. And depending on which statistics provider you believe, between 40% and 75% of people judge your business’ credibility based on your website; so a “good enough” website is no longer good enough. Use this time to identify and fix broken links, freshen up old images, update or remove obsolete content and further define/refine your brand.
In the coming days and weeks, we will continue to roll out business survival tips, information and recommendations as you market through this crisis. Sign up for our newsletter and check back on our blog as we dive deeper into the above recommendations. You can also take advantage of our complimentary business survival strategy sessions, contact us to schedule your appointment.
Most importantly, please stay safe.