Take stock and realign for your customer’s needs

So I’ve been watching and listening as many small businesses go out of business during the pandemic. And it’s been bugging me. Yes it’s trying times, yes there’s a massive economic crisis. Yes people are unemployed. (that’s another blog entirely) Yes, there’s trauma and suffering, yes there’s been mass lockdown laws and regulations that have adversely affected many small business – especially the entertainment, food and beverage industry, but here’s my question…why aren’t we pivoting? Why aren’t we reviewing our businesses, reassessing our offering, and changing the game plan a little. For those of you who are / who have – this blog is not for you – you are welcome to shut the page down right now – thanks for stopping by – I appreciate your interest and and time taken to get this far.

For those who didn’t, haven’t and can’t pivot…my question would be why not? If it’s help you need – ask. But my ethos in business is – never say die…never give up – until there is nowhere else to turn. Never! Never! Never! Never.

So – with this in mind – here’s what keeps my up at night – a little sound bit of what keeps me up at night actually – we won’t go into the rest – we’ll be here a long time as I’m a bit of an insomniac.

My idea of resilience is to advance – despite adversity or in the face of adversity. It’s all about getting you head in the game – and once your mind has come to the party and is nodding in the direction of survive – come what may – we’re good to go.

You see – a recession of any kind – or any kind of negative economic growth means incomes are going to fall and unemployment is going to rise – it’s just what happens – call it the universal law – call it whatever you want to – but happen – it will.

Bottom line is that in an economic downturn – most consumers will be facing difficult times and will find themselves having to change their buying behaviour. No two recessions are exactly alike – specifically because people react to various situations differently. However what is evident is that consumers set stricter priorities for themselves and their families and their shopping pattern is change – sometimes forever – and sometimes for the length of the economic stress.

As sales tart to drop, businesses typically either go into fight or flight mode. Most small businesses don’t have space for much financial wiggle room and end up taking the ‘flight mode’ others who have a little buffer budget tucked away go in for the ‘fight mode’. They cut costs, shed overheads, including staff, cut prices and postpone any new investment into the business.

At this point, I want to point out that different industries will be in very different situations – the retail food industry – while they aren’t perhaps making their normal market share are surviving – especially those who specialise in the ‘lower pricing’ strategy. The luxury industry – from food to clothing is taking a knock. The restaurant and entertainment industries are on a trickle if not a grinding halt.

Marketing is one of the first company expenses that are cut – marketing research, marketing strategy and new campaigns are cancelled or put on hold. Interestingly I agree in some instances – this is the time to gather your support teams, people, communities and go-to-ground. Get closer to the needs of all inside and outside of your business – re-evaluate how you are servicing them and then come out with a new / realigned offer. An offer that speaks to the time that you’re in – what your people need right now and what you can afford. In sort – recut your cloth. Redesign the emperor’s clothing.

This is not the time for cowboy’s and cooks. Failure to support brands in the business or examining your core customer’s changing needs can jeopardise your businesses performance in the long run forcing you to ultimately shut your doors due to mass migration of your customers to a brand that is pivoting and showing respect, understanding and a knowingness of needs – basic or not.

Teams that call a bosperaad – minutely review their customer’s needs, nimbly adjust strategies, tactics, pricing, logistics, product and service offering, promotional voice, tone and language and add value into a customer’s life by offering education, alternative shopping times, e-shopping, entertainment, soul enrichment and ultimately paying into their customer’s lives regardless of how difficult it is to do so – BEFORE taking a chopping block to the marketing budgets are more than likely to course correct any foreseeable damage done by the recession going on to ultimately flourish, gain market share, customer loyalty and support. A little goes a long when one is faced with trauma, panic, pain, loss and financial insecurity.

So what are my thoughts on what you can do if you don’t want to go into ‘flight mode’ in your business:

  1. Ask your customer what they need from you.
  2. Take action immediately with the answers you receive.
  3. Give more: If in retail – do deals that add value – buy one get one free, buy three, get one, buy 10, get two, give a free coupon for a later discount, give a gift card with a set amount on it – the ideas here a too many to list.
  4. Add value – emotionally, mentally, physically or spiritually. Pay into people’s lives by enriching them with free content that is entertaining, educational and supportive of their issues.
  5. Realign your product offering – adding tiers to your basic /entry-level ranges – remove a tier on your luxury ranges.
  6. Add a new product range that answers to the current reality of your customer’s life requirements – sanitisers, masks, vitamins, health smoothies, vegan or vegetarian options etc.
  7. Cut your price on your volume line to increase the foot traffic to your website or your store. Renegotiate with your supplier so that your margin is not too badly affected.
  8. Delist the lines that are not moving – to reduce your overheads and allow you to perhaps retain some staff members.
  9. Renegotiate all your supplier deals – everyone must come to the party to maintain the current customer – that way the knock is shared and is not too much of a burden.
  10. For those whose industries are badly affected – pivot fast! Do not hope, pray, dream, and angst about things changing when the current reality looks bad – offer home-cooked meals, speciality event meal kits, home cooking classes, DIY courses or write a book to teach us.
  11. Up the ante on all things technological – podcasts, webinars, e-commerce, blogs etc.
  12. Get clever with your marketing – and call in the brigades – join forces with industry bloggers, influencers and supporters and get some PR going on topics that feed into your customer’s lives.

I could go on and on here – I am an ideas machine and love dreaming up new and exciting ideas – but it needs to be relevant to your customer’s life and then you and your business need to be able to action it – so I’m going to stop here – I trust that you get the picture I’m trying to paint here.

All roads lead to home. Meaning all the methods of doing something will achieve the same result in the end. Doing nothing but giving up – will lead to a whole lot of hard luck and bad times – and that’s ok – if it’s meant to be… but doing something – anything is better than doing nothing – and will lead to something better than a whole lot of hard luck and bad times.

Contact me – Robyn Lambrick to chat about your marketing requirements and together we’ll take a journey to grow your brand, your business and your connectivity to your customer’s heart, wallet and respect. robyn@wordonthestreetmedia.co.za or 064 135 9719 Remember don’t do the same old thing and expect a different outcome. Try something new!