Businesses did what was right due to COVID-19. Shutting down their PoS stores, retail shops, and non-essential deliveries and working from home till the threat was over-was a right decision. In reality, however, it is like leaping from one stone to another and letting the stones sink as soon as you step on them. It is what happened with businesses across the world. They wanted their employees to be safe, but instead of that, their business and revenue went for a toss. As I type this, most of the countries in the world are entering into their fifty-fifth day of blanket lockdown and talking about liquid injections or stimulus packages for economic revival.
Be it a mom-and-pop store, an SME, a start-up or a multi-national company- all of are shutting down operations, laying off their employees, cancelling offer letters, leaving employees in the lurch. The businesses don’t know how to sustain through this economic downturn brought on by the pandemic without reducing their operations or strength. Just to put things into perspective, the world hasn’t experienced something like this since the great depression in 1929! But as the noted philosopher and historian Yuval Noah Harari puts it, have faith in human resilience.
First, calling it quits is not an option. You may have to take a few desperate measures now, but it doesn’t mean that it is all over and is the end of the world. The virus has been powerful enough to force the world to its knees, ending the acceleration of travel and hospitality industry or bringing the oil prices to a negative number for the first time – it may have ravaged the world economy. However, it still doesn’t have what you have got! You have ideas. The power to think it all through and to back-track your step to connect the dots which you missed earlier! After all, what’s more human than the fight for survival?
Review. Review. Review.
Nope, it is not a typo. It is to underline the importance of taking a hard look as to where does your business stand. Be it inventory, the cash flow or the data quality your business is relying on- you need to know how it can be improved upon. This economic downturn can be a blessing in disguise for the business processes you have been ignoring so long for the lack of time or some other excuse. Want to build a B2B email list or have been secretly wishing to revamp your big data with data mining techniques, now is the time. Take this economic downturn and turn the tables on it. Use this downtime in business to your advantage and to prepare ahead by taking it head-on. If you wanted to reach out to your customers via email marketing, but couldn’t due to a bad email list, now is the time to put it in a to-do list.
Now is also the time to take a hard look at your business’ data. Each company sits on a massive pile of data. It could be telephonic records, email, visiting cards, leads exchanged during trade conferences and events or the B2C or B2B email list sourced by a third-party vendor. This data could be misrepresented, incorrect or simply messed up in places, rendering your email marketing campaign and promotional activities useless.
Change your revenue model
The traditional store businesses were the worse hit amid this pandemic. Digital businesses, essential or non-essential, however, were connected to their customers. They even come up with a smooth yet brilliant tactic to shop now, buy later tactic to keep registering their presence among their customers. Traditional, brick-and-mortar shops just had to close their shops amid COVID-19 lockdown. The next step for you is to change the way you see your business. It is time to take a few drastic steps and embrace a digital model to open new possibilities to earn more and never stop the cash flow.
During this COVID-19 lockdown, I have seen some strategic yet make-shift business models where mom-and-pop ‘snacks’ stores or ‘Kirana’ stores have tied up with RWAs of societies and arranged for required item. The payment was cashless, and contactless made mainly via digital wallets or net banking. Remember, desperate times call for more inventive measures, and this is what was done! Depending upon the nature of your business, you can too adopt a digital marketing model to reach out to more customers. If you already have a digital model, you would want to tweak it keeping recent changes and the new normal in mind.
Build an email list
The struggle to reach out to your customers when they are spending most of their time doing ‘Netflix and Chill’ or worrying about their finances is real. It becomes even more challenging to convince your customers when you don’t know if you have the right email IDs or not. So, now is the time to adopt data mining services proactively!
Why do you need data mining, you say?
Data mining helps you in extracting information, processing the data and identifying the useful patterns. Have a look at why a business- be it small or big- needs to deploy data mining techniques.
- Data mining services help in capturing large data sets and let businesses drive actionable insights out of it. Each business is driven by data these days, and with manual data scraping, you can keep data that makes sense and leave what doesn’t. If you are building a B2B email list, it verifies if your customers are indeed using those email IDs or have moved on. It lets you protect email sender reputation while enhancing your reach significantly.
- Data scrubbing and data verification are an integral aspect of data mining. These clean the data and help you derive information out of it that you can base your decision on. As a result, your marketing team can run a successful email marketing campaign, your sales team can reach out to people efficiently, and the product team can deliver on the dotted line with a product or service that fulfil the expectation of the customers.
- With data mining, you run a business thriving on sheer data and its power. You are in a position to decode customer behaviour and derive insights from their purchase journey.
Whether you are a retail store, a real-estate business, a travel agency- time to sow the data is now so that you can reap its benefits later. The excellent news is that data mining isn’t a mango tree, and you could see its result almost immediately with more click-through rates and better reach!
Show courtesy to your customers
Your customers are going through a difficult time as well. So, be kind to them. Freeletics offered a FREE one-month subscription to facilitate its customers during the lockdown and to promote stay-at-home regulation. Similarly, Spotify and other podcast services extended FREE subscription to the new user. It is not a charity. It is harnessing the goodness so that a brand could attract fence-sitters and later on, convert them into a loyal one. You could have a discount, or trim down the delivery fee or eliminate anything that is a blockade between you and your customer. Once a customer has faith in you and your brand, they will come back to you- irrespective of everything. Offering them extended warranty, easy return policies and guarantee on their purchase can make you a trustworthy choice. The prime example of this would be Hyundai. The car brand launched the Hyundai Assurance Return Program amid 2008 recession and promised its customers that it would buy a recently purchased car back if its customer loses their job. The brand share saw unprecedented growth, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they have launched a rehashed version of the same program at present as well.
Reach out differently
You are an offline business, even maybe a mom-and-pop store, but now it is time to make the switch. People are apprehensive about stepping out, so you need to reach out to sustain your business and survive through this pandemic. So, tweak your marketing strategy a bit and move on to digital strategy. You don’t need to have a full-fledged website or a full-blown shopping cart. If you want, you can reach out to your customers with a digital payment wallet or use WhatsApp’s business account services. Zoom, the teleconference app became not only a popular choice among people working remotely but also with teachers and students alike when it offered online classes for free. Similarly, the New York Times acquired an audio app called Audm to extend its base with growing subscribers of podcasts and audiobook narratives.
Starbucks also has twenty-five million reward card users that make this multi-national American coffee house bask in more than $1 working capital. If you have an online presence already but no email marketing campaign in place, initiate it now! Everybody is inside their house, and you have their attention! However, ensure that the data quality of your email list is up to the mark. Use email data validation and email verification solutions to rely on the data of your customers you have. A study suggests that data mining can help small and mid-size business to identify high-risk clients, improve business processes and make more money. So, before you switch modes, get to the first point and take a hard look (almost like an outsider) if you are ready to earn as well as save money and your business!
Here’s hoping that these easy yet significant steps would become your stepping stones in these hapless economic times. You don’t have to be aggressive to save your cash flow or revenue but all the more reasonable and prudent with what you have and work within limited resources and restrictions imposed on you. Take this challenge and turn it into an opportunity. Use this downturn and downtime to experiment marketing strategy and acclimatize to the new normal imposed by COVID-19.