Many businesses are thinking that things will go back to how they were before lockdown. They won’t. Life and business will be different. So how can you rebuild your business after lockdown?
There’ll be all sorts of constraints on us and we won’t be able to operate in the way that we did before this virus happened.
I listened to a great radio programme last night on “Consumer habits after Lockdown”, with some insightful analysis and fascinating psychological observations. Lockdown will have changed buyer behaviour. Habits take 21 days to change, and once you have had to change and then started a new habit for 21 days – be it how you shop, or things you do, places you go, then that new behaviour becomes a habit after 21 days.
The implications of this is that consumers will start to do things differently after having had 3 months to change and adopt new habits, and as a consequence people will have also lost some of their brand loyalty and become more promiscuous buyers.
This means that a lot of people will be much more receptive to the idea now of moving suppliers than they ever were before lockdown, particularly for those things they have had to do without for 3 months – hairdressers, beauty salons, barbers and so on. It’s a bit like a new shopping centre opening – whoever can market themselves the best will capture the first customers. And those who have continued to market, to show up, to be visible during lockdown – well they already have a head start. I can already vouch for this with some of the businesses I know, from accountants to housing maintenance services, the ones that stayed visible, and continued marketing, they are already taking on new customers and filling their pipelines for the months ahead.
So, take this opportunity now, because in three months’ time it will have gone, it’s only 21 days to create a habit remember.
This might sound heartless, but it is going to be a fact over the next few months. Businesses will close. And it may be one of your competitors. Be aware of it, because the customers of that business that closes will be looking to buy from somewhere else. The customer need doesn’t go just because the supplier they were loyal to has closed. Even if you do nothing, some of those customers will find you.
Be aware of it, be prepared for it. Do the thinking now around what you would do if one of your competitors closed, what you could do if someone in your market shuts, how could you reach out to their customers. Start thinking if there are any opportunities – not just for customers, but maybe for offering new jobs to the staff. You can use competitors closing to generate not just new customers but also a lot of goodwill, if you approach it in the right way.
Do you remember those goals you had when you first started in business? For many they were never achieved – now is the chance to revisit those goals, and work towards them again. You really can grow your business, after lockdown, if you think properly and do the right things.
Start with your marketing and start doing it – big time! You see most people have stopped their marketing during lockdown and as a result, the cost of marketing has come down substantially. The cost of Facebook ads has reduced considerably. Print is cheaper. Print and digital are both really good value now, but they won’t stay like that.
Start now, today, tomorrow, just start. You could use some of your Bounce Back loan. Use it to get some new customers and grow your business.
Marketing right now is NOT a non-essential spend. Just as long as you know what you are doing. More so as your competitors, well they are probably doing the same as 80% of businesses and looking to save money – they won’t be looking at spending on marketing. But do it now, there is going to be a small window to get on the front foot, just the next few months. Seize your moment.
Speed matters. You cannot think about for a few weeks and prevaricate – you want to be the plane taking off at the end of the runway, not the one inching out of the hangar ready to be serviced. Because if you don’t, you can guarantee at least one of your competitors will, and metaphorically speaking, your customers will be on your competitors’ plane to Barbados, whilst you are grounded and passenger-less.
Take a look back in history to see that this is the pattern after any recession, and this one, well this one is different. Because this time consumers have still had money to spend but they have not been able to spend it. Previous recessions have taken a couple of years to recover from, this one will happen much faster, probably in the next four or five months. You have to exploit it. Don’t prevaricate, don’t sit and ‘wait and see’, because if you do, you will be left behind.
Will everything continue online? Of course, there will be some who are nervous about venturing out – but not all. Humans are social creatures at heart. During lockdown we have had to function online be it on Zoom or shopping online. But given a choice people will come out again. Just look at weekends during lockdown and the number of people in parks or beaches, and what happened once the shops did open – people queued and queued. Some even camped overnight! Sure, they could have bought online, but that’s a different experience. As people we thrive on interaction, people to people, be that a shopping experience or a face to face meeting.
We will still do business offline. Maybe not as much as before – pre-lockdown, only 20% of business was done online. That I am sure will increase after lockdown, but offline still creates great opportunity – offline offers a different sort of value. It is all about social interaction. And don’t forget, online commoditizes and pushes prices, and profit margins, down. Offline gives you the opportunity to create greater value, a better customer experience, to create your point of difference and your compelling offer.
Now really is an opportunity to be grasped, if you do it right, and if you do it fast. Marketing is going to be vital for any business.
Veni, Vidi, Vici!