11 Tips to Grow a Business in the Face of Uncertainty

By Maksym Babych,
business.com writer
|
Jun 16, 2020
Image Credit: fizkes / Getty Images

These tips can help you grow your business in tough times. Of course, there is no universal solution, but these principles will guide you in times of uncertainty.

The world is a dynamic place, and in recent years the changes have occurred incredibly fast. New technologies are conquering the market, particularly artificial intelligence and big data. Some ignore change and float along with the expectation that the familiar strategy will continue to work, while others embrace change and use it for growth.

But modern society has not faced a global situation like the coronavirus pandemic before. No business can ignore today's changes; they are as real as the breath we take. As business leaders, we can make these adaptations in our marketing and sales during the coronavirus crisis.

1. Advertise, if you can.

Initially, what you want to do in a crisis is to start saving on marketing. This is because its influence on the success of the company is not visible without analytics.

MarketSense has found out the best strategy during a recession. The key is to put in place balanced long-term branding and advancement for short-term sales. 

For example, sales of Jif and Kraft Salad Dressing brands increased by 57% and 70%. This comes after an increase in advertising during the recession of the late 20th century.

Today you don't have to go through the crisis to understand how it will affect your business. Kantar modeled scenarios of the impact of not advertising on the beer brand. It turned out that by giving up advertising, the brand will lose 13% of its sales. And this market share will be difficult to recover in the future.

Did you decide not to reduce the cost of marketing? Perfect! But do not forget that in an unstable environment, the market and consumers are changing.

Marketing messages must take the needs of consumers into account. They are learning in new conditions and looking for ways to entertain themselves at home. 

Keep track not only of your consumer data, but everything else too. Whether it's a visit to the site or an email opening, or even Google Trends. 

For example, did you know that with the onset of the pandemic, users are looking not only for food delivery? But also for kitchen appliances? People began to bake more often at home, and many decided to upgrade home appliances. 

  • In the UK, demand for pizza ovens increased 1.5 times.

  • In Germany, the people began to look for gas grills 2 times more often.

3. Adjust marketing messages.

When looking at market trends, messages should be in sync with the current situation.

The digital agency Publicis Groupe Epsilon-Conversant did a study on consumer behavior. It found that 48% of users in 2 weeks of the pandemic saw inappropriate ads.

An example is a Sixt car rental advertisement calling to rent a car for Easter.  This is while most potential consumers sit at home on self-isolation. Despite the failed examples, according to the same study, 62% of consumers want to continue seeing advertisements.  

Especially for customers, it is crucial to know how the company reacts to the coronavirus. 49% of respondents want positive messages coming from the companies.

4. Analyze marketing and sales.

According to McKinsey, analytics allows us to speed up first sales by 50% and increase the average check of new buyers by 10%.

Usually, it is an advantage, but acting intuitively now is like not acting at all. You need to analyze every step, every indicator change, and try to adapt to these changes.

5. Reject recruiting channels that do not pay off.

What is not profitable needs to be cut off or reduced. Take a look at the budgets available for effective channels and running campaigns. 

Identify channels for attracting clients that are not paying off or are struggling to pay off. Indicators such as CAC, CAC Payback Period, ROMI can help you select the right channels.

In particular, according to the Kantar study, brands can suspend advertising on television without an adverse impact, but only for a few months.

But don't forget the first rule: if you can, ADVERTISE. Companies that cut marketing costs retain short-term profits but lose in the long run.

6. Do not forget about the strategy.

Planning now is difficult; still, do not forget about the future. In a rapidly changing environment, the marketing strategy may have to be adapted.

First of all, note that the pandemic has created new criteria for segmentation. Now the audience is divided into those who are:

  • Self-isolated and cannot continue working

  • Self-isolated and continue to work online

  • Continuing to operate offline

  • Under strict quarantine

  • Ignoring the virus

Do you agree that these people have different problems? Some are looking for a way to entertain themselves at home. Others need to know about the ways to protect themselves from the virus. Lastly, some do not believe in the virus and build conspiracy theories. 

To please everyone will be difficult, so think about which segments will be the main for you and focus on them.

7. Thoroughly assess the risks of long-term projects.

The strategic goal today is to find a place in a new world where everything has changed, from consumer behavior to market structure.

Conduct market research on the market, consumers, and competitors before you start a project. Thoroughly assess project implementation risks and consider several scenarios.

While it is risky to invest in long-term projects, testing new ideas is easier today. Employees tend to have more free time, and competition in advertising auctions has become less.

When you launch a new product or service, be prepared to adjust the offer quickly, as the market will continue to change.

8. Optimize your current processes.

Before talking about long-term projects, it is important to restore operational processes. Remove problems that interfere with the current situation is a top priority tactical task. Restore your supply chain, establish customer communication, learn to manage a remote team, and try to get back on track.

A stronger crisis affects services that cannot be provided without direct contacts, such as beauty salons or dance schools. But even here, you can continue to make a profit. Masters can offer webinars or go home to clients, and dance school teachers can arrange lessons live.

You can also learn about work processes that didn't have time to optimize before. Think about what you can improve?

9. Adopt to online platforms.

If the company is not yet ready to organize a live broadcast, the least possible is to adopt social networking channels. 

Here are some instructions provided by Google for online businesses:

  • Restrict the functionality of the site if you are temporarily unable to take orders.

  • Tell your customers about the current situation with a banner or pop-up window.

  • Don't forget to specify the actual working hours and contact details.

  • Update information in geo-services like Yandex and Google maps.

10. Do not interrupt communication with customers.

It is important not only to give clients access to up-to-date information but also to be prepared to answer complaints and questions.

Tension in society increases and the situation of each client has its own set of queries.  So questions will come in the same mode, if not more often. If the delivery time of orders in the company has increased, please let the customers know. 

If orders placed before quarantine are not delivered on time, provide customers with accurate information on how the order will be delivered and when.

11. Create more engaging content.

The world around us is saturated with negative information. According to Brand Analytics, 1 million records with direct reference to coronavirus and about 4 million records with words close to the subject are published daily in the public domain.

People want to take a break, want easy and positive content that is soothing. Review the content you publish on your website and social networks. Do not be afraid of changes to your content creation plans as there are various ways to adapt your SEO and content marketing to what is happening in the world.

The crisis won't last forever. Keep your optimism. Do not forget about analytics, and be prepared to adapt. Experience shows that companies that have survived the crisis are only getting stronger. Do your best to become one of them.

I am serial entrepreneur and IT professional. I've launched SpdLoad almost 7 years ago. 2019 it's a first year, when I generated 1M USD revenue, but year even not finished yet. Besides of SpdLoad, I've founded and successufuly sold one small SaaS and run small accelerator in Ukraine. My focus is optimizing business process and product development. I am expert in Marketing, Lean Methodology, Customer Development approach.
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