Cast your mind back to 2020 BC — before corona.
This year’s first quarter was largely unaffected by the emerging global pandemic. You might have been rolling out a new, hard-worked marketing campaign, or expanding your customer base. You may even have had your most profitable month ever!
Quarters 3 and 4 are going to be different.
Whether you’ve continued to trade for the past few months, or you’re finally reopening once again, life after lockdown will not be the same. For many, it’ll be easier — as customer or client spend increases. But this period of change will still come with plenty of challenges, too.
The good news is, there are steps you can take right now to get you on the road to small business recovery.
Implement these ASAP, and your small business will be able to tackle any post-lockdown challenges that come your way.
1. Update your business plan
You are probably several steps behind where you hoped to be in the fiscal year right now. And that’s okay — the vast majority of small businesses are in the same boat.
But the truth is, there’s probably no way for you to get back on track either.
So do you admit defeat and push on with an outdated business plan? Course not. You change track.
Re-forecast. Overhaul your budget. Be sure to account for any loans you may have taken out to weather the storm. Look for opportunities to appeal to new demographics, cut costs, focus on maintaining cash flow, and get back into profit fast.
2. Revisit your marketing spend
E-commerce was, and still is, a much-needed lifeline for many businesses during lockdown. As a result, competition for paid traffic has been fierce.
But as shops reopen their doors, online traffic could take a dip.
This has not happened yet (it’s still very early days after all), but now is still a good time to review your digital ad spend, as well as other online and offline marketing activity.
Your newly revamped business plan should come in handy here. Mapping revenue objectives to marketing activity will stop you from overspending, while giving you the flexibility to feel the market out as it adjusts to the ‘new normal’.
You may need to scale up — to reach out to new and returning customers. You may need to scale down. Having this flexibility, and a loose plan to stick to, is the best thing you can do — for now, at least.
3. Speak to your suppliers
This step is vital — don’t overlook it. You must make sure your suppliers can fulfil their part of your small business recovery plan.
Supply chains have been exhausted by the huge spike in online shopping during lockdown. If you are anticipating an uptick in business now, it’s going to be short lived if you can’t get the stock to meet customer demands.
An honest conversation with your suppliers will give you all the information you need to put your plan into action.
4. Prepare for a mixed response from your customer base
B2C businesses will see some customers eager to spend, but others slower to return — whether because of health concerns, or a simple desire to continue a new-found quieter way of life.
And you need to cater to both groups as best you can.
How do you do this? By taking anything that has worked for you during lockdown — such as a greater focus on e-commerce, or another line of business altogether — and continuing that alongside any BAU practices you’re set to restore.
Quite quickly you should settle on a balance that best serves the current market. But that market could still change at any time, too.
5. Check your compliance
Health and safety compliance is a huge deal, whether you have a customer-facing brick and mortar store, staff working out of a fixed office/warehouse, or both. You’re probably familiar with the new guidelines on public health, but do you know exactly how to keep to them?
You need to do more than social distance. You need to complete a new risk assessment, implement advanced hygiene measures, and display various pieces of information for the public and your employees to see.
More details can be found on the government’s website. Take some time to understand the regulations for your industry, so that you can get back to business without worrying about compliance.
6. Stock check your online presence
Are your trading hours changing? Are you offering a limited (or perhaps even expanded!) range of services? Maybe you are looking for more staff to support your recovery plans?
Get all relevant information on your website as soon as possible! And, while you’re at it, check that your Google My Business listing is up to date and inventory the rest of your online footprint, too.
The goal is to present a clear and consistent message — showing potential customers or clients that you are open for business; when, where and how. Which leads us on to…
7. And finally, engage your customers
Once you have your post-lockdown small business recovery plan in place, you need to let your customers know what it is that you’re planning.
You should use every possible channel to engage with your customers and let them reciprocate. Your website, social media and email list are all good places to start.
And you won’t be starting from scratch here. People will remember you, you just need to get the message out there.
Just don’t forget to empathise. Remember, some people will be chomping at the bit to get back to “normal” — and with these customers, you can feed that desire with new promotions, products, and ways of getting involved. For others, you’ll need to temper your engagement; acknowledge the situation and their circumstances, and ask what you can do to help.
While coronavirus has been the defining force of 2020, it doesn’t need to be the only thing you talk about. Even cautious clients will be looking for entertainment!
Your partners, post-lockdown
These are uncertain times, sure. But, working together, we can weather the storm.
Want to learn how Streamwork Marketing can support your small business recovery? We’re offering free 30-minute consultations, so get in touch today.