Coronavirus: 5 things business leaders can do now
Assuming all your staff are now working from home, day-to-day operations have stabilised and you have passed the point where you were tempted to email the company's entire mailing list and let them know that you were "there for them during this difficult time", you might now be looking at what useful things - both tactical and strategic - you can be doing during this crisis period.
Tactical innovation around your product or service offer - consider whether making subtle changes to your product or terms of service can make life easier for your customers and suppliers. Simplifying your product offer - such as reducing minimum purchase quantities or unbundling services - might mean that more customers can continue buying from you as incomes and budgets are squeezed. Paying smaller suppliers quicker will help with their cash flow and keep them in business to be able to supply you into the future.
Short-term, agile price changes - no one wants to see companies profiteering from over-inflated prices for goods in short supply but when certain products are in high demand, pricing must cover any increases in raw material costs but it can also be used effectively to ration consumption. Imagine if, during toilet-roll stockpiling, supermarkets had quickly flipped their multi-buy incentives to be "buy one, get the second at 5 times the price", much of the panic-buying could have been averted.
Switching channels - whilst face to face interaction with customers is more difficult or impossible, embrace other avenues. Selling goods online and tapping into existing delivery networks including the good old Royal Mail is an obvious choice but if your offer is a service, can it be flexed and delivered online using virtual meeting technologies and webinars? Independent car dealers, for example, are using one-to-one WhatsApp video calling to show cars in detail to prospective buyers and factoring in the cost of delivering the car by truck.
Communicate and advertise - glossing over the "we are here for you" emails, which in reality served no purpose other than to remind long-ago lapsed customers to unsubscribe, companies need to continue their cadence of regular communication - especially on social networks which are seeing significant increases in traffic. Think about whether there's something useful but relevant that your business can provide which costs very little but engages with customers whilst they have time on their hands and are looking for distractions - a quiz or puzzle maybe, or some downloadable colouring-in pictures for kids or even adults. In terms of paid for media, such as advertising, keep it up or even increase it if you can. Marketing is an investment not a cost, and maintaining your share of voice during a down-turn whilst others are cutting budgets and reducing theirs is proven to raise your market share when things start to recover.
Take some strategic time out - when all restrictions are finally lifted, and after a brief moment of joy at the freedom of movement, businesses will face challenges of a different nature as everyone begins to count the cost of what has happened. Take the time now whilst all activity is tactical, to revisit the company strategy and review your targeting, your brands, your positioning and your strategic objectives for 2021 and beyond.
This is clearly a difficult time (I won't say we're here for you) and many companies are struggling just to stay in business, but for others this can be a good time for both positive action and strategic reflection. If you would like to discuss how you might embrace some of these tactical suggestions in your business or would like to talk through strategic choices, please contact us.