Business as Unusual: 10 Ways to Adapt in the Time of COVID-19
The spread of COVID-19 across the globe has drastically affected the economy and overall business landscape. The Department of Finance (DOF) and the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) estimated that the country would accrue a total of Php2.2 trillion in losses due to the pandemic, with 87% attributable to profit and wage losses.
With government-mandated lockdowns affecting both supply chains and staff attendance, many businesses struggled with staying operational. On the consumer side, there have been shifts in purchasing habits and priorities, with many favoring necessities over other kinds of spending.
In these uncertain times, business owners need to decide between shutting down to prevent losses or taking on additional risk and adapt to keep things going.
10 Tips for Businesses to Survive and Thrive in the Pandemic
Operating a business during the pandemic is vastly different from your pre-pandemic operations. Here are ten business tips for success and growth, even in the face of COVID.
Market your product with COVID in mind
The global health crisis has significantly shifted consumer priorities. Aside from people prioritizing needs over wants, the situation has prompted new gaps in the market to emerge. Consider your roster of products and services and how they might be more relevant during the crisis or fulfill new gaps.
In addition to this new approach, make sure that all marketing communication addresses the current situation. Due to the uncertainty of the pandemic, customers want to know which businesses are still operational and if they can offer relevant solutions.
Move towards digital platforms
As more people are spending time at home and online, your business may benefit from the visibility and accessibility of digital platforms. Creating or boosting your online presence, especially on social media, can provide you with opportunities to promote products, connect with your customer base, and keep your brand visible.
Depending on the type of products you offer, setting up an e-commerce platform will help generate sales while storefront operations are limited. Furthermore, strategies like accepting cashless payment methods and contactless delivery or pickup methods are more flexible and safeguard the health of everyone involved.
For e-commerce businesses, try live streaming
With nonessential travel extremely limited, e-commerce is gaining more traction. However, some consumers may be wary of making purchases that they can’t guarantee will fit their needs or be of good quality. Pre-pandemic, it was easier to show off these features through store visits and live demonstrations. Now, the emerging solution is live streaming.
Popular social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram make it possible to go live without any fancy equipment—all you need is a smartphone. From there, you can show off a product’s functionalities or recreate an in-store shopping experience to entice viewers to buy from you. Live streams also allow your audience to communicate with you and ask questions.
Improve communication channels
In these uncertain times, communication has become a top priority, both for your team and the public. Now, more than ever, is there a premium on reliable communication channels that deliver your message as soon as you need it.
For your team’s needs, consider exploring various digital tools and software to ensure smooth communication without compromising your message. If you are maintaining some form of on-site operations, these tools can help streamline necessary communication and reduce errors.
For external communication, consumers are looking to businesses to reassure that their continued operations are both compliant with mandated health and safety practices and provide support and compassion in the current circumstances.
The right message distributed through appropriate channels can build further trust with your customer base and the public at large.
Provide adequate support for your teams
Employees are the backbone of any business, making their well-being critical for maintaining operations. The pandemic has put everyone at risk of infection, especially so for on-site employees. You need to strike a balance between keeping the business operational and providing the right support for your teams.
Additional measures should be set in place to keep your teams safe on-site. These measures include health and safety policies, as well as a clear strategy to support employees and overall operations. A channel of communication should be open for employees to share any concerns and feedback.
Reevaluate your business continuity plans
As the government continues to implement more health and safety measures, it’s crucial to take a closer look at your current business model and supply chain. Keeping the continuity plan more flexible gives you room to adjust in the face of additional, unexpected changes.
Consider reviewing your current operations: what are the current logistical limitations of your business? In the new normal, what can you expect to change, and what will remain the same? Do you have alternative solutions, should your current supply chain encounter obstacles? Are there any aspects that will immediately benefit from upgrades?
By analyzing the current situation and your operation history, your learnings from this health crisis can be used to update your continuity plans. An essential part of a successful continuity plan involves continuous monitoring of any developments and making the necessary adjustments to maintain its effectiveness.
Increase your online marketing efforts
Moving operations to digital platforms is only the first step in maximizing your online presence. With lockdowns and community quarantines keeping consumers limited to their homes, traditional marketing may no longer be as effective as it used to be. Online marketing provides your business opportunities to reach your customer base where they are.
Social media can be a powerful platform for promoting your offerings, connecting with your existing audience, and providing more responsive customer service. Creating engaging and informative content, as well as paid digital ads, can improve your brand’s visibility.
Other online marketing efforts include optimizing content for better search engine rankings and improving your site and online profiles.
Intensify hygiene and sanitation practices
COVID-19 is a respiratory virus transmittable through infectious droplets that make contact with the body’s mucous membranes. Due to the virus’ nature, preventing possible infection for both staff and customers will require a higher standard of health and safety.
For on-site operations, more frequent and thorough disinfection of high-traffic surfaces, shared facilities, and work areas, as well as having readily-available personal protective equipment and disinfectants, can reduce the risk of transmission.
Additionally, offering cashless payment options and implementing a contactless delivery and pickup system can minimize interactions between customers and staff, limiting both parties’ exposure to the virus.
Keep reaching out to clients and prospects
While current circumstances are uncertain, keeping your sales funnel active is a crucial step to not only weathering the crisis but also positioning your company for long-term growth.
Digital marketing efforts can help drive the generation of fresh leads, giving your business a larger pool of potential customers during and even after the pandemic. Powerful lead generation methods include sharing engaging and informative content and hosting digital events, such as webinars and podcasts.
Additionally, in-person prospect meetings and pitches can be replaced with video conferencing. With digital tools, your team can still maximize its outreach efforts without compromising delivery and relationship-building.
Start planning for the future
In the best-case scenario, the World Bank predicts an optimistic 4.2% global growth in 2021. As the pandemic begins to stabilize, you will need to transition from enacting reactionary strategies to following a more predictable plan.
It is crucial to plan with data from both pre-pandemic strategies and current ones while also considering a more forward-thinking approach. With these lessons in mind, set realistic goals for your business as you return to operations. Make sure to prioritize activities that allow for additional growth in the long term while securing day-to-day operations at every stage.
Determine if the changes made for current business operations can be made permanent. This allows you to integrate your previous change goals into your current change requirements. Consider if you may need alternative sources of funding, such as private lenders or pawnshops in the Philippines.
Finding Success in the New Normal
The pandemic has forever changed the way businesses operate, both in the short- and long-term. While the current situation may pose a challenge for operations, the right strategies can help your business overcome the crisis and position itself for rebuilding and growth in the future.
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