There’s a wonderful Norwegian saying, I’m told it rhymes – “Det finnes ikke dårlig vær, bare dårlig klær!”
It translates to “There is no bad weather, only bad clothes!”. To which I wholeheartedly agree. But, this isn’t about Norwegians or clothes…
To put the idea into a marketing context: There is no bad economy, only bad strategies. Said a different way, more to the point I want to make: we all need to know how to compete in good AND bad economic conditions. I can’t tell you what to do in your specific situation, but I can talk about some general principles that apply to us all. Principles that apply in bad times, that is, since this is October, 2020.
First, acknowledge what’s happening. It’e easy to see nowadays, your governor says your gym can’t open or your restaurant can only seat every other table. I’m talking about when it’s harder to see, when things erode. Hey, no worries, sales are slipping, new customer orders are down, but our big, established customers are still ordering. This owner, and he told me just that, is holding onto the notion things are okay (established customers are still ordering) as opposed to accepting the reality that an important part of his business is eroding. It’s human nature. But let it go too long and all the sudden sales are off 30% and the scrambling begins.
Next, avoid scrambling. Get over it. Fast. Yes, it sucks, but a very wise owner once told me “You never go out of business by over-reacting”, and she was right. If you have a choice, and you do, react quickly.
Find out for yourself what’s real. This also answers the question, “Okay, I want to react quickly, but what exactly does that mean — what do I do?” Ask your customers. They’ll likely tell you what you need to do. At the very least, they’ll give you clues. Call them, do a Zoom meeting. Talk to five. That is, have five in-depth conversations about what going on in their world. That’s all you need. Ask:
- How has the economy affected your business?
- What’s going on with your customers?
- How do you see that’s happening to you affecting our relationship?
- How can we help you move forward, what more can we do?
Ask follow-up questions: What do you mean by that?; Can you give me an example?; Help me understand. Your job is to listen, not talk.
Act!! What did you learn? What ideas did you jot down? There will be ideas. There’re always ideas. Develop one, then test it on a handful of customers, or put it on a landing page and bring people onto the page with Google Ads. Is it working? If not, refine it and test again. Rinse and repeat. Test the next idea.
Sound simple? They are. Sound easy? Oh, dear reader, they aren’t. But they’re doable. So, get going! If you need help, I’m here.