The year 2020 has been a crucial one for almost all industries, specifically small- and medium-sized businesses. However, amidst all the hardships faced during the pandemic, businesses have learned some serious lessons which they can keep in mind going forward to come back stronger!
SMEs should now move towards improving their marketing strategies and services, keeping in mind the new shopping trends after COVID-19, including shifts to e-commerce and contactless payments. The following lessons can enable businesses to plan for the next year and do better marketing in the face of COVID-19.
1. Strengthening Customer Relationships Should be Your Priority
No matter the type and size of your company, your relationship and bonding with your customers will always be the most important factor! The more you build your trust with them, the more they will rely on you, even in difficult times.
Besides customers, maintaining strong relationships with other valuable stakeholders of your company, such as employees, manufacturers, suppliers, dealers, investors, etc., is equally important. Without this trust and brand loyalty, you cannot go far!
Building strong relationships with them is equivalent to building a solid foundation for your business. Hence, the success of your company will depend largely on how well you maintain these relationships.
2. Embrace Innovation and Technology
2020 is an unforgettable year that has made people of all ages rely heavily on technology, especially in the digital world! Besides, adopting the latest technological innovations is probably the only way to ride the storm!
Customers are afraid to step out of their homes and are maintaining social distancing to prevent the spread of the virus. In this scenario, not only should you opt for the work from home norms, but you should also try using smarter technologies to work more productively by collaborating with remote teams.
For example, work as a team using several project management and communication applications like Zoom, Slack, and Asana. The previous year has taught us the importance of having a digital workflow and environment to sustain business in any such unexpected situations in the future!
3. Provide More Flexible and Customized Offers
During these tough times, every customer is looking for more affordable options and alternatives to the products they used to purchase before. With numerous people losing jobs and businesses shutting doors, everybody understands the significance of saving!
But life has to go on and people need to buy their essentials and daily food. So, they are looking for cheaper solutions, which is why brands offering good discounts and offers are taking centre stage! Try offering a little extra support to your customers and you can win them for a lifetime! Also, ensure that your services and products are custom-made to address the unique requirements of your customers.
For example, if you are a wedding photography group, you can customize smaller packages instead of offering the usual packages covering 3-4 days. Since most marriages have shrunk to single day ceremonies during COVID-19, it’s better to offer smaller packages covering a few hours.
4. Customers’ Purchasing Patterns Can Change
By now, it should be clear that customer interest and buying trends can change drastically within the blink of an eye! No matter what industry you are in or what business model you follow, customers’ likes and preferences change rapidly.
In the previous year, we learned to be more flexible to cater to the changing needs of our buyers. For example, during the lockdown, people started exploring new hobbies and talents, including painting, cooking, creating handmade stuff, exercising, etc.
This whole new set of activities brings in newer requirements to pursue those hobbies and interests. It’s essential for businesses to adapt to such rapid alterations in purchasing habits and cater to the new requirements of their customers without delay, such as offering new cashless payment options! Doing so not only keeps your revenue stable, but actually strengthens your relationship with your buyers.
5. Focus on Your Employees’ Health
Many companies overlook the health and safety of their employees and fail to realize that employees are the building blocks of a business. You need to take extra care of your team members, specifically in times like these. So, invest in the safety of your workers!
To start with, you can clean and sanitize your office space regularly. Consider installing hand sanitizers within your premises. Also, keep a good stock of masks, face shields, and PPEs on hand, and do regular temperature checks before allowing people to enter a workspace.
In other words, allocate a good portion of your budget to the welfare of your employees and provide the medical help they deserve. The best thing would be to offer them work from home options whenever possible. Follow all the necessary precautions and rules imposed by the government.
6. Have Liquid Cash at all Times
One vital thing the year 2020 has taught us all is the importance of money and savings. Even if you think you are doing well, you never know what’s ahead! Running a business is never easy and smooth!
To help you survive these rollercoaster situations, ensure that you have enough liquid cash on hand which is the most essential fluid asset any company can possess! When every other financial source fails you, liquid cash will come to your rescue.
The thing that helped many businesses survive COVID-19 is that many of them accumulated cash which provided a financial cushion.
7. Explore New Income Sources
Another thing that many business owners have started trying is to expand their sources of income by exploring other business opportunities. For example, if you own a boutique store and it’s hit hard by the pandemic, you can try to sell COVID-19 essentials like masks, gloves, PPE kits, etc.
In short, go with the trend and research which products or services are the need of the hour! Additional sources of income will bring in some capital during tough times like these. In fact, businesses should try out new ways to diversify their revenue every quarter!