• How to position your business during the Covid-19 lockdown

How to position your business during the Covid-19 lockdown

Words: Jessica Turner, Managing Director of Confab

Most of the world is falling asleep with thoughts of Covid-19 running through their minds, and waking up in the same way. As we stand together and face this tidal wave-like global pandemic and the economic effects that lie in its wake, there’s no denying that every single business around the world will feel its tremors and experience its aftermath, whether positively or negatively.

As panic and frenzy rises, so does emotional and fear-based decision making and something we are noticing all around us are businesses trying to ‘panic sell’ just as fast as consumers are ‘panic buying’ rolls of toilet paper, but is this the answer to the pressures that Covid-19 is placing on your business? We think there’s a better way…

Here are some of our team’s tips and insights on how to properly position your business during the Covid-19 lockdown in South Africa. We trust that these tips will aid you in navigating the uncharted waters of a nationwide shutdown, and ensure that you are able to make the right investments into your business (even whilst it may be unoperational) so that when normality returns, you are poised for great success and breakthrough, for as the saying goes “this too shall pass.”

1. Less selling, more storytelling

The normal knee-jerk reaction to an upcoming period of low business activity would be to try and spread your sales message fast and wide, and that’s what most businesses seem to be doing. Quite frankly, this approach leaves your customers feeling used at best and exploited at worst. This is not a time to try and profit from a pandemic at the expense of your valued customers. Instead of using a time of low business activity to shamelessly sell your products and services at a moment when customers may need them the least, this is a time to start telling your brand story. Be empathetic, be honest and vulnerable, tell your unique story. You may not be able to make sales during this time, but you can build lasting relationships with your customers through storytelling that will be far more beneficial in the long run than losing customers in the short term by trying to gain quick sales wins. 

2. If you haven’t gone digital, now is the time and this is the ‘sign’ you’ve been waiting for

If you are a business that has been caught unprepared as the world has turned almost entirely digital overnight, you may be kicking yourself for not implementing online strategies sooner. Whilst you cannot change the past, you can start shaping the future: now. If there’s one key takeout from this Covid-19 moment, it’s that digital is not going anywhere, in fact, the need for it will only increase as we move into the future. You may have been caught unprepared this time, but you can make sure there isn’t a next time by taking action now. 

3. Evaluate your current marketing and plan for the future

Did your current marketing channels help or hinder you as the nation began to enter a crisis? Were you able to quickly change tactics and respond to the business changes brought on by this global pandemic? Now is the time to begin evaluating your current marketing efforts and plan for the future. Now is the time to invest in the right marketing tactics and not let fear cause you to opt-out of marketing at all. The businesses that survive and thrive through this unknown period will be the businesses that built wise strategies during times of “famine” to position themselves correctly for periods of “abundance.

Don’t know where to begin creating a digital marketing plan for the future? The great news is that digital agencies (like Confab) will all be fully operational during the nationwide lockdown and are just a video call away if you need to set up an online strategy session. 

4. Build up your social media

Perhaps you are using social media. Perhaps you’ve only seen it as a ‘nice to have’ addition to your business. At this moment, social media has quickly become the saving grace and bedrock for so many organisations as they need to rely solely on these online channels to reach their customers. Now is the time to take social seriously, build up your online presence and set a plan in place to ensure that your social media channels are yielding measurable results for your business.

5. Refresh your branding

There’s no denying the fact that when the world returns to normality, and it will, there is going to be more business competition than ever. In the new world, good design will be a key differentiating factor that will make your business stand out in a sea of competitors and win the hearts of potential customers. Is your branding old, tired and belonging to another millennium? The good news is that digital agencies (like Confab) are still designing during lockdown. We need any and every excuse to keep our creative juices flowing and so if you need to chat design, we are just a video call away.

6. Send out a personal (and honest) emailer to your clients

Whilst all of our inboxes are full of mails with subject lines such as “our response to Covid-19” and you may not be wanting to add to the email noise, if your business has a database of loyal customers and clients, we highly recommend that you send out a personalised and honest emailer to explain how your business is positioning itself during the nationwide lockdown. Perhaps you will still be available over email or video calls, let them know. Perhaps you will be pausing your online orders for a time, keep your customers in the loop. Perhaps you are offering discounted products or service when lockdown is over, let your customers know so they can make plans for the future that include your business. 

7. Work on your SEO

If Google cannot find your business during a nationwide lockdown, neither can your clients. Digital is the only way that most customers will be able to find and interact with businesses and whilst your products or services may not be offered during a nationwide lockdown, spend time investing in your SEO now, so that when normality returns you are poised for great increase! If you need some help getting started with your SEO, we are here to help.

8. Set up those business systems and take care of that admin you’ve been procrastinating about

In his brilliant book “The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It” Michael E. Gerber says the following “Simply put, your job is to prepare yourself and your business for growth.”

There has never been a more opportune time to take a moment to pause, think, focus and refocus and then roll up your sleeves and start preparing for business growth. No skyscraper was ever built without meticulous foundations first and business systems and structures are those foundations. Now is the time for pro-activity and not procrastination as you invest your lockdown down time into working “on” your business even at a time when you may not be able to work “in” your business.

9. Your customers are people too

Businesses that stop seeing customers as mere numbers, or emails in a database, but real people who are experiencing the same feelings of uncertainty as you are, are businesses that are ready to properly communicate with their customers during this nationwide shutdown. Speak to your customers during this time, speak to them honestly, share your heart with them, let them into your business process and tell them how you plan to be there for them now and as we rebuild the future together. Your customers are people too!

10. Invest in yourself

Robots don’t run businesses (well some do, but that’s another blog post), people do. If you’ve been feeling worn out, burnt out and lacking inspiration to run your business or fulfil your role, this nationwide shutdown presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for you to stop, reflect and start to invest into yourself. Take an online course, read a book, read industry-relevant articles, and if there’s one thing to avoid, it’s emerging from the cave of isolation having done nothing but finished more Netflix series than is helpful for one individual to consume in a 3-week period. Last but not least, make declarations over yourself and your business. Declarations such as “I am not alone in this,” “this too shall pass” and “I am a leader who leads well during a crisis.”

So, in closing, we would like to remind you that are you not alone in this, we are here to assist you in navigating the uncharted waters of a nationwide shutdown and global pandemic as best as we know how to. Here’s to rest, refocus, realignment and then rebuilding the future together.