We know that many businesses are struggling with the restrictions we’re under due to COVID-19. But instead of focusing solely on what is happening now, investors and businesses should be looking ahead to when the lockdown is over. Start preparing now for an explosive growth opportunity for your businesses the instant the blocks are off.
Businesses are putting up closed down signs when they're just temporarily not accessible. They’re also cutting their marketing spends massively - prices of Facebook and Google Ads are through the floor yet few businesses are taking advantage. Organisations are offering discounts, not realising that when business returns they've set a precedent for lower prices.
Instead of following these trends, businesses can prepare for growth by taking the opposite actions.
Many organisations are not out of business, they just can’t access their premises at the moment. There may be options to recreate your business virtually. If you’re a small retailer, forced to close your physical shop, you could open a virtual shop, you’ve already got the stock and your website doesn’t need to be sophisticated. If you’re in the health sector, well, now is your time to shine, I’m working with the world’s first virtual hospital to handle patient referrals online and deliver conversational AI solutions for COVID-19.
A lot of your customers will have more time on their hands now. And almost all your customers will be spending more time at home and online. So now is not the time to reduce your marketing spend. Because no one else is marketing, which is why rates are so low, now’s a good time to get your customers’ attention. Maybe write to them if they’re consumers. If they are sitting at home, they’ll be more likely to read good quality content than before.
By way of example, take a massage business. They obviously can’t operate now, but they could offer vouchers, or give valued customers the option to prepay to be first in line when the business reopens. The business wants to have a completely full order book the second it’s safe to reopen the business. And they want to have customers paying full rates, not discounted, that’s why they’re offering extra value of being first in line rather than a cheap option.
And, if you really feel you do have to discount, then at least invoice in full with a second invoice line detailing the COVID-19 reduction. This sets the expectation that the discount is temporary and will pass.
With everyone at home, now is also a great time to call your customers, not to sell to them, but to ask them how they are doing. Check in and see what they need, find out how they are feeling about the current situation. You might get some sales from these calls, but the more important thing is to build relationships. It makes your customers feel listened to and appreciated. You can also gauge market sentiment to inform business decisions.
Finally, look for opportunities to fix the important neglected things in the organisation - the holes in the roof. Maybe your website doesn’t inspire, or maybe it has too high a bounce rate, or maybe some of your business processes need review. Now is the time to fix them. And, if you have some spare time on your hands, how about upgrading your skills with online courses.
At the moment it feels like everybody's hanging around waiting for the start of the race. Except most of them are facing in the wrong direction and haven’t got their shoes on. Instead of thinking how difficult it is to conduct a transaction now, investors should be working out how they can get explosive growth in their portfolio when the starting gun goes.
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