What’s the Best Business Approach During COVID-19?

Wilson Zehr

Wilson Zehr

Wilson Zehr is CEO of Cendix the leading provider of Web-to-print solutions that automate on-demand one-to-one marketing campaigns and increase sales both online and offline. Cendix offers hosted Internet application software (Software as a Service - SaaS) for print shops, commercial printers, and enterprise marketing.

Right now, for many businesses, it’s a time of survival, digging deep to keep things afloat or thinking of unique ways to diversify and ride the waves. You might have by now resolved those short-term struggles to some level. You have hopefully somewhat stabilized the situation, but perhaps you’re struggling to find a way to ensure the long-term success of your business. Maybe you’re asking, what now?

It goes without saying that some organizations will be harder hit. The travel industry is massively affected, whereas the food-delivery industry is doing very well at this time. If the current situation has left you feeling like you’re fighting a losing battle, it’s crucial not to make any fear-based decisions. Easier said than done, of course!

Amazon, Zoom, Netflix, Disney are all seeing sales growth. Any type of system, software, or services that support remote work or communication is up. Desktops and laptops for use at home are still moving briskly. Companies will have to help re-stock the shelves of your local supermarket. There are rays of sunlight showing against an otherwise gray economic backdrop. If you are not in one of those industries, what do you do…?

Use Crisis to Force Change

Over time some parts of a business can become stale or even toxic. However, fixing these issues when the business is still rolling along, can be like changing the tire on a moving vehicle. Times of crisis are often when we have the biggest opportunity to make changes.  A crisis can be a forcing function to bring about important change. We may have to re-think or re-tool our business anyway. We might have more time, and our stakeholders and potential business partners might be more flexible than otherwise. This is one of the best times to rethink business as usual and get some strategic deals done.

Focus on the Prize

On a golf outing long ago, I was faced with a difficult shot across a water hazard.  I pulled out an old ball and dropped it at the spot. My golfing companion, an old friend of mine and very successful executive in the transportation industry said, “what are you doing?” I replied, “8 times out of 10, this shot will go in the water, so why waste a good ball?” His reply to me, “don’t focus on the water, focus on the hole grasshopper. Use your best equipment to maximize your chances and make sure you stick it.”  I reflected long and hard on this lesson after pulling the ball out of the cup.

It is easy to fixate on failure in the face of challenges, especially those as far-reaching and disruptive as the COVID crisis. Rather than focus on all the things that can go wrong, which we should already know, focus on where we need to go and creative ways to get there. Put your best foot forward, use your most talented people, your best resources and make sure you put it on the green.

Take a Different Perspective

In order to take a new approach, you first need a new perspective. Could you use this time to help and support other individuals or other businesses? Maybe for your company, now isn’t a time to focus on profits but instead to build brand awareness as a side-effect of supporting your local community. 

Support Your Team

Now is a perfect time to show true leadership and keep morale up, even from a distance. It’s a worrying time for employees as well as employers, and now if possible, you can demonstrate your company values and respect for your staff members by leading forward. Spread positivity and reassurance but also be honest with staff members about your plans and ideas. Involve wider team members in brainstorming.

Remember Your Customers Needs

Just as things have changed for you, so have they changed for every single one of your customers. This means their needs have changed and so has buyer behavior. If we take the example of a local gym business. The customers of the gym still need to work out and stay healthy, but their needs have changed because they must fulfill this need from home. How could the gym better support this change in needs? A local gym could rent out equipment to gym members if they don’t cancel their membership. 

Keep Communicating

Arguably the most important thing of all is to keep the lines of communication open with your customers. You can do this via social media, email, or direct mail. The more personalized you can make the messaging, the better. Everybody appreciates being remembered, valued, and supported. This is especially true at worrying times. Using direct mail to achieve this gives you a chance to stand out amongst all of the digital noise going on right now. You can set-up a safe, contactless direct mail campaign very quickly with Zairmail, and have your message in the mail within 24-48 hours. 

What things should you be saying?

Let customers know how you can support them (if you can support them)

Explain any changes in the way you carry out a service or offer products

Share any special promotions that are valid during this time (perhaps a discount for online versions of previous in-person services).