It's amazing how quickly the situation has escalated. While Charmin may be sitting pretty for the quarter, a lot of business owners are flushing their big goals down the toilet. Now there is a ton of great content being circulated on how to scale back during this time and its smart to be aware of expenses and logistics in these types of situations. But today I want to talk to you about what you can do to actually grow your business during this time.
The truth of the matter is that when markets radically shift. as they are doing now, some businesses will fold and others will thrive. Companies thrive when organizations find ways to solve problems. Well guess what... we've got a huge problem to solve and it's the brand leaders that can use this as an opportunity that will grow their market share at unprecedented rates. Let me be clear, I'm not saying the Coronavirus is a good thing or that we should exploit vulnerable people to make a buck. What I'm saying is that we can't control what's already happened, but we can decide to help optimize the outcomes.
You see it's all a matter of perspective and if you decide today that this will be the vehicle your company will use to really show the world what you've got to offer, then let's keep chatting.
Now that we've re-framed this pandemic, let's get to work on how we can contribute to the solution and make the world a better place.
Step 1: Bust out your trusted brand identity guide
Before you develop an offer, add or modify your position, or make any meaningful edits to your offers you always want to have your brand guidelines front and center. This is how you ensure that the products and services you develop and how you develop them are "on brand" and in alignment with your core values.
Step 2: Use your Identity Guide to Identify a Solution you already have
Rather than using plain old fear mongering to try to drum up business, use your Brand Identity to think outside the box on how you can help your ideal client. It's a pretty obvious pitch if you happen to offer a product or service that people are already trying to get their hands on, such as bottled water or acetaminophen. But what if you don't sell hand sanitizer?? First off, take a look at your ideal customer. What are their concerns right now? What would help them get through this situation as it pertains to your industry? Look for things you already do that would naturally be beneficial in this situation. Are you a consultant that has software to host virtual meetings? Is your restaurant hooked up with Door Dash? These are things that are normally just extra little conveniences, but in this exact scenario they are game changers. Play them up and remind your audience that you offer services. Remember, you job in sales is to remove friction points. Ask yourself, 1) what do you offer that will help them make purchasing easier? 2) What do you offer that can help them deal with this new environment?
Step 2b: Minimize your loss by growing your reputation
In some cases you will have a loss and there is no way around it. The garbage should be the last place you think of putting your surpluses. Can restaurants use their extra food to help provide lunches for families with school age children that depend on the free lunches they aren't getting? A PR firm with no events to publicize could help the city distribute information to the public. Could a hotel donate mini soap bars to shelters to help prevent the spread? Think outside the box because there's more than a write off involved. It is a chance to not only do good, but also connect with your audience and show them that your messaging is more than just talk. Find a way to give that is in line with your defined core values and will touch your ideal customer as closely as possible.
Step 3: Create Something New
Now if there isn't anything that is already a part of your offer suite, then it's time to come up with a few ideas and run your favorites through a feasibility stress test. One thing I like to do during this stage is brain dump. I use a white board or blank sheet of paper and just start writing down ideas. At this stage there is no bad idea. I don't have to know how it would work, it's pure brainstorming. Get creative! Once I'm done, it's time to edit and run feasibility tests. Factor in items such as timeline to create and implement, cost, expected ROI, and of course determine if it is in line with your brand. By this I mean, is it an offer your ideal customer would value? Does it line up with your brand promise and core values? It's not a bad idea to run a small beta for proof of concept. If you are a conference videographer, maybe you offer a great deal on taping virtual summits for all the conferences that are being cancelled. If you manufacture kids crayons and schools are closing down, maybe you promote some at home crafting ideas and projects using you products. If you are a personal trainer, maybe you offer a 30 min workout video or a online group workout?
As you may have noticed, having an excellent handle on your ideal customer is a big part of being able to strategically and efficiently grow your brand strength, so if it's been a while since you've worked on this part of your brand, here's a LINK to a tool you can use to get started.