It’s been a difficult couple of months for virtually everyone in the entire world. We all know people who have gotten sick from the coronavirus and most of us probably know people who have unfortunately died from it. And the lockdown has certainly hurt most businesses, as aside from food and necessary household related items, not really much else is being purchased.
The good news is that the number of new Covid-19 cases has dropped dramatically over the last few weeks and business is starting to trickle back a bit. The stock market, which was down -32% from its February high has bounced back quite dramatically, and the SBA’s PPP (Payroll Protection) program has been a life saver for many small-medium sized businesses, In addition, there are literally dozens of treatments and vaccines in the pipeline being developed and tested.
As I mentioned in March, I truly believe that just like every other crisis we’ve all been through (9/11, the Internet Bubble of 2001, the Great Recession of 2008), “this too shall (eventually) pass”.
No doubt this whole upheaval is a major battle for each and every one of us, but if we look back at each of our lives, we see that difficult times are often followed by wonderful times, and business challenges often open new opportunities to thrive on.
I recall that after the Internet Bubble and Crash in 2001, the stock market was down an astounding 52%, and everyone thought that the world was coming to an end. I was CMO of a medium sized company. As things began to settle down a bit, we refocused our efforts and pivoted into areas of new opportunity. Sales went up, online sales quickly shot up to $10 million and company profits doubled…and we then were able to successfully sell the company for well over $300 million. The point is that there may be great upside opportunities for each of us right around the corner.
Some Winning Businesses Right Now
Despite the weak business environment over the past few months, there are still a good number of companies doing quite well. To name a few…Costco, Walmart and Kroger are benefiting from increased grocery shopping, Zoom is booming as we’re all using it now for virtual meetings, Clorox is cashing in on cleaning and disinfecting, TeleDoc is the leader in virtual doctor visits (which is the only way many doctors can see you these days!), Gilead owns the patent on Remdesivir, an Ebola treatment that was just approved for Coronavirus, and both Regeneron and Moderna are far along on Corona vaccines.
Despite stock market weakness, all of the above businesses have seen their stock prices rise nicely since the beginning of the year. In fact, a few of them have stock prices that are up over 100% since January! So there are certainly still plenty of sweet spots for the causal investor….if you know where to look.
But the key question for TODAY is….As businesses start coming back to life, how should you think about your own business?
In this newsletter, I’ll like to propose 8 simple strategies you can consider to both protect your business and capitalize on potential growth in the post Coronavirus era.
8 Post Coronavirus Strategies to Develop Now!
- Continue To Be There For Your Customers – Keep reaching out to your customers and prospects proactively to be sure they know that you are there for them and how you can help them. It’s an opportunity to be the “lighthouse in the big storm” and provide clarity, calm and confidence to help them navigate the storm.
- Recognize That Digital Is Experiencing Historic Acceleration – Since Covid-19 began, there has been major transformation in the ways we interact with our families, get our work done, talk to our doctors, travel, spend leisure time, and conduct virtually all of our “way of life” tasks. According the McKinsey, these changes have accelerated the migration to digital technologies at a stunning scale and speed, across every sector. As one CEO remarked…“We are witnessing what will certainly be remembered as a historic deployment of remote work and digital access to services across literally every domain.” Through the Covid-19 recovery, and well beyond, digital will play a defining role…or even the defining role!
- Quickly Accelerate Your Digital Efforts – Do you make money now from your website and your other digital channels? We’re now in a new world. As customers continue to interact with digital more than ever, companies need to quickly rethink their customer journey and accelerate the development of digital solutions….whether their website, e-commerce, e-mail, blogging/content, social media, search, lead generation via Linked In, Amazon, video, etc.
Not optimizing for the new digital reality creates potential risks for almost every business. We’ve developed digital strategies for many of the world’s most iconic brands (Pampers, Hyundai, Krispy Kreme, Dannon, etc.), and dozens of small to medium sized businesses. Do you have a digital strategy that addresses this new digital reality? If not, we can help!
- Adapt Your Customer Messaging to Fit Post Corona Sentiment – Businesses need to understand what their customers will value – post Corona – and “reposition” their value proposition if/as needed…by developing new messages, use cases and tailored experiences based on those thoughts. So can you adapt your company’s message to fit better with post Corona sentiment?
- Think About “Pivoting” Quickly to Meet Emerging Needs in your Category – Given what you normally do, is there anything really needed in the marketplace that is sort of related to what you do that you can now pivot to and provide?
Can you cross sell other products/services to existing customers to make up for lost revenue? Can you leverage strategic pricing by removing unnecessary costs to lower prices without hurting margins? If you need help thinking through planning for this, feel free to reach out to us.
- “Purpose” is Important – Especially in a time where people are scared, and many are facing financial hardships, brands should think about what they can do from a charity and social responsibility perspective. For example, Starbucks now provides front line healthcare workers with free coffee. Adding a “purpose” component message to your advertising and social media can leave a positive and even lasting impression on your customers and clients.
- Carefully Watch Your Financial Situation & PPP Spend – Revenues are likely down, so be sure that you mobilize working capital and continue to free up cash. And if you benefitted from an SBA PPP loan, be sure that you are carefully tracking expenses so you can qualify for forgiveness on most/all of it (See Forbes article to the right). Remember that at least 75% of all PPP expenditures must be used to cover payroll related expenses to qualify for full forgiveness.
- Of Course, Be Very Supportive of Your Employees – Aside from financial support and encouraging work at home arrangements as needed, ensure employee safety both in and out of the workplace. And as a leader, you may not have all of the answers to all questions, but you still want to be as engaged as possible!
In summary, companies who are proactive and ready to leverage these opportunities once Corona really starts to slow will recover faster and potentially be much stronger in the long term. If you need help thinking through and developing a game plan to capitalize on this, feel free to reach out so we can talk.
And remember that the most important thing is to proactively deal with the crisis, but stay positive!
Wherever you are, wishing you all the best….Be well and stay safe!