A mountain peak with a flag waving on top, symbolizing success and achievement amidst the challenges of COVID-19.

Top 5 Strategies to combat Coronavirus

Now that COVID-19 is affecting businesses everywhere, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed regarding what is the best course of action for your business.

Yet some agile businesses are already capitalising on the scenario we find ourselves in by meeting their customers’ changing needs. We’ve seen some great examples of businesses marketing how they have adjusted the manner in which they bring their products to market. Many have moved business online, they’re offering more delivery options, professional services are being conducted over video call, and retailers are introducing drive through or contactless pick up. The major supermarkets have been attempting to assure supply of essentials for customers, in particular the elderly. Some people in the arts have moved their live shows to online live streams. These are just a few examples of being adaptable to changing market conditions and giving your customers what they want.

So, our first piece of advice for business owners everywhere is this:

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1. Examine your core customers’ changing needs.

Now is the time to find out exactly what’s going to keep your customers spending with you during the next six months and beyond. Just as the businesses we mentioned above have done, it’s time to look at inventive ways to continue to bring your products or services to market.

If you’re not sure how to do so, consider conducting some strategic market research into where your customers expect they will be spending in the coming months, which products or services they’re thinking of cutting back on, what they see as essential, and any ways in which you could adjust your products or services to suit the changing health landscape.

Once you’ve worked out how to keep servicing your customers, you’re going to want to ensure cashflow doesn’t become problematic.

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2. Talk with your service partners about payment options.

Many service providers offer a multitude of engagement and payment options to help businesses get the most from their spends. This usually depends on the term of engagement and your business’ requirements. Talk to your providers about how you can get the best value for money and most appropriate services that will support you during the downturn.

For example, Viabrand offers regular, ongoing professional support through our Vie™ program. The program gives businesses access to our experts in strategy, design, marketing and web development when you need them most – for the duration of a specific project or for ongoing assistance. Payments are broken down into smaller, predictable amounts leaving no room for bill shock.

Most service providers offer these kinds of engagement options in the form of a monthly fee for the term of your engagement. Some energy providers even allow you to pay a weekly instalment to cover the electricity. Breaking bills into smaller, regular chunks can help your business control the budget, keep track of spending, enjoy peace of mind and preserve budget management surety.

Now you’ve worked out how to keep the business running, you can focus on strategies for success. We know a lot of business owners will be panicking at the prospect of what lies ahead. It’s a natural human reaction to the scenario in which we find ourselves. At Viabrand, we like to look to research data and statistics for sound strategic guidance for ourselves and our clients.

A Harvard Business Review (HBR) study of corporate performance during the past three global recessions says, “According to our research, companies that master the delicate balance between cutting costs to survive today and investing to grow tomorrow do well after a recession. Within this group, a subset that deploys a specific combination of defensive and offensive moves has the highest probability—37%—of breaking away from the pack. These companies reduce costs selectively by focusing more on operational efficiency than their rivals do, even as they invest relatively comprehensively in the future by spending on marketing, R&D, and new assets.” 1

3. Invest in the right areas of your business to future-proof.

This tip is inspired by sound, trusted research. The numbers prove that businesses that survived best through the last three downturns all invested in their marketing, R&D, and new assets.

We understand that investing in marketing at this time seems counter-intuitive to some business owners. They may see a downturn coming and want to slash the marketing and sales budget and team into insignificance. For some business owners, there may be no other choice.

We understand it can be hard to cover full-time staff costs during these times. So, if you absolutely can’t afford to keep a marketing person or team in place, the next best option is to outsource, to ensure you’re your marketing staffing spend is 100% productive. When you use an external team of sales or marketing professionals, your brand can remain top of mind while you reduce staff costs.

Why should you invest in sales and marketing during the COVID-19 economic downturn?

Because very few, if any of your competitors will be. Since there will be reduced competition for your target market’s attention, this is the perfect time to cut through the noise and remind your customers of how essential your products or services are to them.

We say essential, because, as HBR reports, “During recessions… consumers set stricter priorities and reduce their spending. As sales start to drop, businesses typically cut costs… Marketing expenditures in areas from communications to research are often slashed across the board—but such indiscriminate cost cutting is a mistake. Although it’s wise to contain costs, failing to support brands or examine core customers’ changing needs can jeopardize performance over the long term. Companies that put customer needs under the microscope, take a scalpel rather than a cleaver to the marketing budget, and nimbly adjust strategies, tactics, and product offerings in response to shifting demand are more likely than others to flourish both during and after a recession.” 2

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4. Adjust your strategies and tactics in response to shifting demand.

We love talking strategy as it’s the firm foundation on which all of the most impressive brands are built. Many business owners and sales teams are so flat out with the day to day, a slow-down in business can actually present the perfect time to review your goals and strategies.

So how should you shift your strategies? The most obvious advice is, if you’re going to keep on investing in marketing your brand, you want to ensure you’re getting the best value for your dollar. How do you do that? Review the numbers.

As the Harvard study identifies, you need to look at your customers’ changing needs and the results of past campaigns and sales activities for answers. What does and does not resonate with your target market? What attracts the highest spenders? How will a downturn affect how your consumers interact with you? Will that change where and how you want to market the business? What training will your team need to meet the new way you’ll be offering services or products?

5. Lock in a clear and concise way forward for your brand

Once you have reviewed your results, the business landscape and your customers, consider developing a strategic plan and calendar of marketing and sales activities to guide you through troubled waters. Share the plan with your team and service providers to ensure you have full support across the board and so everyone is clear on the objectives and what success looks like.

Remember if you need any assistance with your branding, marketing and advertising, get in touch with Viabrand for sound strategic advice and agency resources at a reasonable price.

It’s hard to see businesses struggle, so we would like to offer some help!

If you’re a business that requires guidance on Brand and Marketing, we want to offer you a Free Consultation Session to discuss your challenges and what you can do to improve your brand position during these tough times

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  1. Harvard Business Review March 2010 – corporate performance during the past three global recessions: 1980 to 1982, 1990 to 1991, and 2000 to 2002. The study included 4,700 public companies.
  2. Harvard Business Review How to Market in a Downturn April 2009.