As COVID-19 continues to spread around the world, we hope you are taking the necessary precautions to stay safe. With many countries enforcing a strict lockdown to battle the pandemic, plenty of businesses have taken a big hit.
If your business is one of these, you might be wondering how to stay afloat during this crisis. Instead of backing down, we recommend you focus on strengthening your business from the inside out. Let’s look at a few ways to do this.
Identify your entrepreneurial survival instincts
Whatever business you might be in, there are ways to make this lockdown work better for you. There will be minor setbacks, but with careful planning you can come out stronger.
Let’s discuss five strategies your business can implement to successfully navigate this crisis.
Focus on delighting your customers
Most companies are following a “Work From Home” policy, so they need tools to help them allocate tasks and communicate with their teammates through remote software services. Since some companies may find it expensive to afford them, many businesses are currently offering their products for free or at reduced rates for a limited time as an act of goodwill and a show of solidarity.
Obviously the hope is that when things return to normal, those using the product for free will feel a sense of loyalty to the brand and will be ok paying to use the product. By taking a short-term loss in offering premium features and resources for free, B2B companies can increase brand awareness and secure long-term growth.
For example, e-learning companies like like Moz and Udemy are encouraging their customers to learn new skills every day by offering free training courses online during this crisis period. Moz even made their promo code “wegotthis” to give the customer a sense that the company is right there with them in their struggle.
The key to this approach is to avoid hard selling. Instead, you want to show support. Ideally, many of the freebies you give away in this hour of need will turn into a revenue stream when the economy becomes stable in due course of time.
Even we at Zoho have taken this approach by introducing Zoho Remotely, a suite of remote software tools. We’ve given users full access to premium features for free ’til June 2020.
Look for offline traffic to keep you financially steady
Even if your main source of income is online sales, it’s often possible to find offline solutions to maintain a steady flow of income until things pick back up. The best way to find these solutions is to start looking at a local level. In a world where so many have been asked to limit their travel and socially distance themselves, local providers of goods and services have become ever more important—especially if you deliver.
For example, if you are a bakery store, and your production is still running, look for creative opportunities to sell your goods. Find restaurants nearby that still deliver to their customers and create a business deal to offer your baked goods through them or even to become the restaurant’s source for bread or other necessary items. This partnership might also lead to plenty of business opportunities in the future. You will have created a local connection and become an integral part of the community.
All local supermarket chains are facing unprecedented demand due to the last minute panic buying, and the foot traffic is still high compared to the other stores. Partnering with them is also a great way to sell your products, especially if you provide items they’re running short on.
These local connections are important to establish even if they don’t provide you an immediate revenue stream. For example, if your products are nearing their expiration dates, donate them rather than just throwing them out. Many local governments have set up shelters all around most cities so the needy have access to good food. Donating food to such shelters is not only the right thing to do—it will generate goodwill for your brand.
One case study is a company from India, Taj group of hotels, which are owned by the TATA industries. They donated food to doctors who are risking their lives to save others. This brought in a lot of positive traction for the brand and business on social media.
Learn about and meet your customer needs
Figure out how your offerings can be a solution to your customer’s current problems. In this time, even the smallest task might be challenging for them given a work from home scenario. Helping in situations like these can improve your offering and increase your customer satisfaction rate.
In addition, keep your customers informed about reward programs and updates regarding your business. When online food delivery services were listed as essential businesses by the government, customers were still hesitant to order food online. Swiggy, an Indian online food delivery platform, went out of their way to provide additional safety measures in the preparation and delivery of their customer’s orders.
They also send emails to customers about Zero Contact Delivery to explain that there would be no contact between them and the safe delivery expert.
Also, remember to engage with your customers on social media. Focus on content and stories that will help your customers. 70% of the buying experience all about how you treat your customer in times of need.
Here’s an example of how Koovs, a fashion brand, conducted a fun giveaway contest on Twitter to engage their audience.
In another example, Flipkart played it subtle by educating their audience on the safety measures their employees are taking, thereby winning audience trust while also engaging with them.
Take care of your employees
Making sure your employees are provided for is simply the right thing to do. In addition, many people are paying attention to which companies are treating their employees well during this time of crisis, and those companies will surely be rewarded for their loyalty with new customers.
If you own a restaurant and your waiters now have nothing to do, encourage them to help with delivery services. Allocate your workforce to different activities. And if you don’t have enough work for them, help them find courier/delivery services that need more human resources during this period. It’s a win-win solution for your staff and you.
Similarly, plenty of companies can find creative ways to keep their business running and afloat during the tough times. The important thing is to put your employees’ best interest first. If you can avoid laying them off while continuing to pay them, that’s ideal. If it makes more sense to lay them off so they can be eligible for government benefits, do that rather than keeping them on but giving them zero hours. Find a way to work towards a common goal will help us get through these difficult times together.
Take this time to focus on tasks that will help your business in the long run.
Create content: Use this period to create fresh new content for your business. Come up with an engaging webinar script or edit images and screenshots for your product. Do your own research on SEO and curate content based on relevant keywords.
Define your goals: Think about what other services/features you can offer to your customers and create a strategic plan covering the major milestones that your company needs to achieve for the long term.
Upsell: Create a list of influencers and affiliates that you can reach out to upsell your product. When your products/services get reviewed by them, it drives a lot of traffic and sales to your website.
- Run targeted ads: Advertise your website on Google to places where you can deliver orders. Use the Google Ads Location Targeting feature to narrow your ads to a particular geographic radius rather than having it advertised throughout the country.
The final verdict
This global pandemic is impacting a lot of businesses—especially brick and mortar—and has also changed consumer behavior. With people being confined to their homes and avoiding public areas, some retailers are experiencing a huge shopping surge but having to push their services online. Consumers also prefer to shop and pay online.
If your business doesn’t have an ecommerce store yet, we think it’s time to start being proactive. Creating an online website can provide customers immediate access to your products and services from their home.
We at Zoho Commerce are willing to do everything to support you. One proactive measure we’ve taken is to extend our trial period for 30 days. Our customer support executives are working from home as well, so feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com. We are ready to guide you in any way possible.
Stay safe, stay healthy. We are all in this together.