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Weathering Storm 2020

Thriving in a crisis.

We are certainly in unchartered territory with the onset of COVID-19. Most Americans are at home, dreading possible dark days ahead, while health officials have much to learn as they work to develop treatment and understand the effects of this new virus. 

What can small business do to survive, and perhaps thrive, during the difficult days ahead? The last recession in the United States officially lasted from December 2007 to June 2009. It took several years for the economy to recover to pre-crisis levels caused by the accumulation of debt and widespread failures in financial regulation.1 

Are there any lessons from the last recession that might help us weather the 2020 storm? A 2010 Harvard Business Review study revealed that the businesses that remained flexible actually flourished during the last recession. 9% of these business outperformed the competition. They were pragmatic, progressive and proactive during and after the crisis.2 Here are a few takeaways from the Harvard study along with some marketing bedrocks:

Be flexible. Flexible work options and telecommuting have always been a way for companies to attract and retain top talent. What if telecommuting were to become the norm? Yesterday, I walked by the near empty train station in Libertyville. Rush hour has become an eerie reminder of how quickly habits and decades worn patterns can change in hours. The mobile ready business that can stay online and remain productive in a worst case scenario will certainly have an edge. 

Offer value. A common knee-jerk reaction for companies is to ether slash prices or raise rates to increase revenue. A better time-tested approach is to focus on adding value. What do customers crave? How can your business meet the shifting demand? The more quickly you discover and meet the demand, the better positioned you are to thrive and reinforce customer loyalty. 

Get creative. Refine your target market by carving a specific niche and adjust marketing efforts accordingly. What are the "ripe fruit” opportunities in your industry and how can your business benefit? For example, companies may take advantage of the increased demand for online teaching, training and educational videos by developing online content and programs. Innovative services and tools can help any business weather the storm and provide additional revenue streams. 

Stay current. Taking the time to investigate new or alternate marketing methods can yield rich dividends when implemented purposefully. Would a strategic social media marketing campaign help you reach new customers? Consider marketing alternatives that are more effective, and less expensive. A nimble organization may be able to phase out unnecessary office space by allowing employees to work remotely, utilizing video conferencing, virtual servers and project management tools. Redirecting expenses to keep current is a smart move in any season. 

Give. Join the growing list of companies that are giving their way out of a crisis. Offer a free trial or service for a limited time to attract new customers and increase exposure. Charitable donations help support local businesses. For example, Rally for Restaurants is helping support local restaurants through gift card purchases, and restaurants can sign up. LinkedIn is offering sixteen LinkedIn Learning courses for free. Adobe, Box and Hootsuite are just a few of the many companies that have created online offers for new business. 

Be positive. Maintaining a positive attitude can strengthen you and your business. There are multiple online sources to improve wellness including virtual fitness classes and online communities. The best advice in any crisis is to focus on the positives (i.e don’t look at the Coronavirus map everyday), be thankful (create a gratitude journal), reach out to others, just laugh, get plenty of rest, exercise and use time wisely (Psalm 90:12). 

An uncertain economy doesn’t have to mark the end of your business, but rather the beginning of a new era. Even in a lean market, there are businesses that thrive. When new opportunities emerge, your business can get ahead by taking advantage of trends, staying flexible and offering solutions. 

Reference: 
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Recession
https://hbr.org/2010/03/roaring-out-of-recession