I know. It’s hard to be strategic when faced with uncertainties and revenues that may be dropping off the cliff. And yet, I want to help you weather this storm and even produce some business gains during this unprecedented business environment. Yesterday we published LP2X Survival Tips for Early Stage CEOs and concentrated our tips on business hygiene and basic financial and HR steps to take now. You can read it here. In my usual style, I am not filling these articles with academic discourse but rather usable business techniques and suggestions for right now. Today I want to offer some thoughts on re-examining your business model.
1. Recognize what your customers may need now.
Your customers have the same concerns that you do currently: containing and cutting costs, preserving capital, preserving or maintaining revenues with reasonable margins. Price sensitivity is real and so is predictability of deliveries, employee communications and safety of employees, and securing their digital environment.
2. Consider what products and offerings you can provide to support these erupting customer needs.
How is your company able to assist customers in cutting costs? Can you provide business subscription services or offices services to replace higher cost internal solutions for your customers? Are your on-line solutions priced for quick implementation? Do you provide services or solutions for kids while their working parents are engaged in on-line meetings? Can you take over the messaging to employees for any of your large customers?
3. Offer your customers and partners tools and services for pivoting their businesses to a new model.
Waiting out a downturn is only a strategy if you are an established business with no capability to change quickly.Now is the time for your business to change rapidly. Think about how your customers are pivoting their business and what they need now from you to help them pivot.
ln light of fewer in person meetings, Kara Smith Brown (LP2X 2018) CEO of the B2B Lead generation consultancy SmithBrown Marketing is hosting a webinar Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. on how to keep up lead gen and sales efforts during this crisis. Kara recognizes that there are deals to be made if you’re well positioned. Her company has on-boarded new clients amid the ongoing turmoil. She is welcoming all launchpad2X companies to join the webinar.
But what if your product or business model is severely sidelined? Maybe you are a business app, restaurant or gym or store or manufacturer of retail goods or a software company on the non-essential list. Where do you go when the customers are gone? You need to go where the customers are now and where they are going. You need to pivot as your customers pivot. Once you find your direction, marketing is key, service and performance are key and so is predictability. Those are all qualities where most of our LP2X companies excel. Don’t wait on this one. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Your customers need you more than ever now. How can you support customers facing a downturn, securing their communications or supporting a remote workforce? 4. Customize your solutions.
With few consumers leaving the house and businesses working remotely, what can you offer? Home or curbside delivery of goods or services, drive up solutions? What do you offer that can be delivered securely and conveniently? Subscriptions boxes for pets, children, or educators could be a hit and provide an opportunity for acquiring long term customers. Even enterprise-based businesses can sweeten an offering by providing gift cards for services or other subscriptions that are needed by a remote workforce. Food delivery for your employees or customers anyone? Connect with Carol (LP2X 2016) at GroupFood.com (firstname.lastname@example.org). She is leading her company through the process of flipping their model from feeding business meetings and events to feeding families and employees at home during this time of unprecedented office closings. I have observed a corporate relocation company offering to include a cruise with their packages to corporate clients. (Hey, I might not want to take a cruise right now, but it is a great time to buy a cruise package at significant savings. It can be offered to customers and employees for the next few years.) Other examples?
Wayfair is offering a sale on its classroom furniture suggesting that every home needs a dedicated learning space for kids who are not attending school. My favorite yoga app, DownDog, which I have used for free for the past two years is now offering their premium service app, with greater features, for free for the next two months. They are promoting it as a generous move to help with the stress of working from home and yet we know that it will gain them longer term paid customers as a result.
5. Communicate, communicate, communicate.
Let your customers know what you are doing and how you are operating. Is it business as usual? Are you cutting services or service hours? Do you have products and offerings that can help their business to grow, pivot or simply survive? Don’t miss this opportunity to communicate with your customers. They will remember who served them well during challenging times….and those who did not. Please let me hear from you on what you are doing to adapt your business. Remember Darwin’s theory? It’s not survival of the strongest, it is survival of those who can adapt the quickest. Keep Playing to Win.
Bernie P. Dixon is Founder and Chairman of Launchpad2X, a founder-to-CEO accelerator training program for women entrepreneurs. Find her on LinkedIn.