Category: Client Retention

Is it time to Ramp up, Restart, Reboot or Rethink?

COVID-19 continues to pose serious challenges for small business owners. Figuring out how to start again in its economic shadow will not be easy.

Is it safe to assume that things that worked before will still work in the coming months and years? Should assumptions about how businesses create value be reviewed? Will ongoing disruption bring opportunities as well as pressures? Might this actually be the best of all possible times to make changes?

Reality bites, but optimism endures 

The results of a recent survey published by the CSO early in June show that more than 70% of responding SMEs reported a decrease in turnover in 2020 compared to 2019. Almost a quarter saw turnover fall by more than half in the year and about 40% saw their turnover decrease by between 10% and 50%.

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More than half of enterprises changed their mode of operation due to the pandemic, the most common changes reported were developing an online presence, increasing operating hours and developing new products.

However, despite the challenges faced, the small business community, business owners and entrepreneurs are confident for summer 2021 and the second half of the year, according to a new report from Small Firms Association (SFA)

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In a different survey when 150 SMEs were asked about the developments they envisaged during the remainder of 2021. Their answers were equally split between Ramp up (I expect to experience strong growth based on pre-COVID-19 operations, strategy, product and service offering), Restart (with minor adjustments. I expect to more or less return to pre-COVID-19 performance, with some adaptations (e.g. social distancing, customer churn, minor reduction in employees, maintaining broadly same product/services, finance etc).) & Reboot (I expect to make significant adjustments outside the scope of pre-COVID-19 strategy/plans (e.g. developing new products/services, reducing employees, divesting assets, seeking new markets and sources of finance etc).

Nobody said that they might need to completely Rethink their strategy, and their answer

Dialogue: a key to successful change 

Extensive research with SME founders has shown how entrepreneurs manage the uncertainty generated by growth, revealing in particular how dialogue can encourage them to adapt to change.

Why is this so? Dialogue helps founders to develop critical self-awareness – to take their blinkers off, step outside their bubbles and hold themselves to account. It exposes personal bias and limitations that risk an unhealthy adherence to outdated assumptions. It identifies new opportunities that can bring increased performance and competitiveness.

With all this in mind, many business owners have shared their post-COVID-19 plans with someone. This demonstrates that entrepreneurs are investing time both in listening and, crucially, changing in the face of “new normals”. Continuing to gather diverse inputs will be vital to navigating the challenges that undoubtedly lie ahead.

From inputs to outcomes

A research piece from the Small Business Charter in the UK, suggests that dialogue is an important but frequently hidden tool that business owners can use to prepare for change. It is likely to be especially helpful as they contemplate their place in a post-COVID-19 economy.

It might not provide quick fixes. It might even prove frustrating initially. But it can give rise to many valuable insights into how to survive and thrive – precisely what is needed as founders try to build better, more resilient businesses.

The bottom line? Amid the turbulence of COVID-19, small business owners must continue to invest their time in sharing their own thoughts and seeking out those of others.

Whether ramping up, restarting, rebooting or rethinking – or exploring a combination of these options – it is good to talk.

3 Strategies to adapt your business to the new normal…

One year into COVID-19 and with all the changes we had seen in the last 12 months around consumer behaviours, all business owners are asking themselves “Which changes are permanent?”

Google’s latest trend report highlight three consumer trends emerging that businesses should keep in mind as they move forward:

  1. The pandemic has accelerated existing shifts in behaviour

  2. People need more help than ever navigating choice complexity

  3. People want relevant content and ads that respect their privacy

These trends are here to stay and this is how businesses can respond:

Everything is speeding up. The pandemic only has accelerated customer behavioural changes that were largely already underway. Google has seen this acceleration in search volumes. For example, search interest for the term “ideas” increased significantly in 2020 and continues to grow in 2021. The trend shows people are moving online for inspiration for shopping, cooking, and so much more.

Demand also shifted dramatically as people broke old habits. For example, swaps in search interest from “smart casual” to “lounge wear”.

Even now, customer behaviours remain unpredictable. For example, we’ve seen interest for “grocery stores” and “takeaways” unexpectedly shift to weekdays. The age-old phrase — “Change is the only constant” — certainly applies.

2. Be fast and helpful

We’ve all seen the value of being fast and helpful. The fact that consumer decision-making is increasingly complex and more and more businesses entered the online arena, means customers need more help than ever navigating the purchase journey. This presents a huge opportunity for businesses to differentiate themselves, be helpful and present at the right time. They can provide consumers with the information and reassurance they need to make the right decisions at different stages of their buying journey. Automation can enable you to be there when needed, as well as to be agile enough to seize the opportunity to help consumers. Remember, only 1 to 10% of prospects are in the final stage of the buyers’ journey (choose supplier).

3. Build trust, every time

People’s behavioural shifts have been accompanied by rising expectations for relevance and online privacy. Brands have to work to build trust, every time.

A Google/Euroconsumer study has found nearly 70% of respondents believe the amount of personal data collected online makes it difficult for them to protect their privacy. Other research from 2020 shows 86% of consumers want more transparency over how their personal information is used.

This is not only relevant when it comes to online ads, when consumers prefer relevant, not random, ad experiences. They also expect businesses to deliver factual and interesting content to keep them engage.

Everything changes but the Key Principles of Marketing stay!

As consumer behaviours keep changing, new tools are being developed to help businesses and marketers better understand customer needs and respond more effectively.  However, the basic principles of marketing, still stand:

  • Who is my customer?
  • Which problem do they have (they don’t want)?
  • Which solution do they need (they don’t have)?
  • Which stage of the buying journey are they are? and finally
  • Why would they trust you?Find what matters to your customers

As we look to find what matters in this changed environment, brands that keep these three consumer trends — and three business opportunities — top-of-mind will be able to approach decisions with greater clarity and confidence:

  • Embrace acceleration
  • Be fast and helpful
  • Build trust, every time

Do you want to nail the basic principles of marketing? Check this video why all you know about marketing for small businesses is wrong

DISCLAIMER: All data comes from Think Google

Educate Your Customers

Educate them about what, you may be thinking. Well, consider this, many businesses focus solely on attracting new customers, but you NEED to spend a good chunk of your time retaining current and former customers. These are people you already know to be a good sales potential…they’ve already bought from you!

Take the time to market and sell new products to your old customers and less time trying to sell old products to new customers and you will see a drastic change in your sales, customer quality and branding position.

Here are a couple of key elements to use to retain your current customers:

  1. Stay in contact: This means by phone, email, e-newsletter, in person-by pigeon if you have too!
  2. Post-Purchase Assurance: This means you need to follow up with customers. Your customers need to feel like they are being supported for their purchase and with the item they purchased. How many times have you purchased a product, then felt completely abandoned? Something as simple as a Thank You note with your contact or customer service information can go along way in retaining a great customer.
  3. Deals & Guarantees: Always offer your current customers the best deals and guarantees you have. Show them you appreciate their business or even come up with a club specifically to reward loyal customers. You can also do this with a preferred pricing option.
  4. Integrity: Using good business practices and simply upholding integrity, dignity and honesty go along way with customers. Let’s face it, there’s a lot of swindling and crap out there and the safer and more confident you make your customers feel, the more they will trust you and that makes for an amazingly supportive and loyal customer.

There are three cornerstone ideas to a successful business:

  • Quality product/service
  • Offering useful products/services that solve a problem for or enhance the life of a customer
  • Offer subjects your customers find interesting

Use this approach of educating your customers and offering them real information and insight and you will be rewarded with loyalty and success.

Stop wasting all your time on new prospects while your current customers fall by the wayside!

As Jay Abraham says, “Your best prospects are your existing customers. If you’ve been putting all your marketing efforts into acquiring new customers, stop and diverts some of your resources into reselling, upselling, cross-selling to those same customers. In every ways possible – through package inserts, regular mailings, special offers – stay in touch with those customers and get them used to buying from you.”

So, there it is! Remember, we can help you put together the resources and tools to do exactly that. We can help you educate your customers and you can watch the benefits pay offer many-fold.