IIt’s crazy how fast the world can change. Only weeks ago, we were all going about our busy lives. In a flash, everything was, and still is, different.
At The Newsletter Pro, my team and I saw what we thought was a major existential threat, and that gave us a small jump-start in getting ready to work from home. Like many, we had to spin up something in a few days that companies usually have months to prep for. In about two and a half days, we had a plan to figure out the tech and had about 55 people working from home. Most of the credit on the tech side goes to my vice president, Jared, but each team member played a part in making everything work and making the transition very smooth.
Every business now has some kind of COVID-19 story. A few have more business than they can handle, but most of us lost revenue at a minimum. Many Americans lost their jobs, and some of us entrepreneurs lost companies. It’s scary for everyone, and it will fundamentally change this country and the world.
For every business left standing, the question needs to be this: How do we recover, and even grow, during and after this crisis? I’m going to outline my game plan here. I’ve done a ton of research, and I’ve laid out my plan below based on everything I can find and my own experience of how to recover from other disasters. I strongly recommend you mimic what I’m doing. You may be in a different industry, but it doesn’t matter. What I’m doing is foundational; I’m not falling into any “get rich quick” traps or developing shiny object syndrome.
Apply for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)
If you haven’t already done so, then you need to make sure you apply immediately for the PPP if you qualify. Over 95% of entrepreneurs will qualify on some level. This money is to be used for payroll, loan payments, office rent, etc. Without these expenses, you can invest the money you’d have normally spent on those items into implementing the marketing you need to restart and even spark growth again. The rules of this plan are adjusting daily (as I write this), but the bill has passed and is law. Make sure you pay close attention to how you can spend the money and the requirements to get the loan forgiven. Your CPA or lawyer will be able to advise you on all the most current updates and adjustments.
Your best bet is to be communicating with customers and prospects now, and I don’t mean the lame, impersonal emails every company is sending out about how they want to protect employees and customers from COVID-19. Normally, I’d tell you to also be sending direct mail, but right now, for the sake of speed, I understand sending emails as a temporary primary form of communication. But keep in mind that email fatigue is in overdrive right now because everyone is sending (and receiving) massive volumes of emails. This media is going to take further beatings as people restart their businesses or try to grow and think blasting out emails over and over again will help them do that. In many cases, those emails will fall on deaf ears, possibly more so than they already did prior to the pandemic.
Instead of emails, send customers and prospects print newsletters, postcards, or text messages or make phone calls. Even better, do all those things. Right now is the best time to connect with your customers and prospects, and the second best time will be when everything is restarting. You need to make sure everyone knows you’re still standing, and if you think email is going to solve all your problems, then you may not still be standing in a few months. Don’t make this mistake. Take the extra time you have now in your day to work on your business instead of in it or worse, watching Netflix and surfing the internet. Those who start now, like me, will be positioned to recover the fastest because we’ll grab up market share that competitors have lost due to poor communication or because they’re now out of business.
Keep Up Marketing Campaigns
Many people haven’t had to do much of this or at least haven’t been sophisticated at it. I’ve had customers tell me they don’t need relationships with their customers: “We’re so busy, so our customers love us.” I promise they’ll be regretting that decision shortly. You need to be actively investing in relationship marketing. Relationship marketing isn’t the act of sending coupons or industry highlights. Relationship marketing is the act of opening up and being personal. Let them know you’re not just another business owner; you’re someone they want to know, like, and trust. During every presidential cycle, they run a survey asking who you’d rather have a beer with, and people answer! That’s the crazy thing: People make major life decisions based on who they’d like to have a beer with, including if they do business with you or a competitor.
You’ll need to also focus on having multiple lead generation sources and a proven and monitored process for lead conversion. You must also ensure that you are always getting full contact info from both customers and prospects. Having a good customer relationship management system to organize and automate marketing is a must. We use Infusionsoft by Keap.com. You can no longer let leads slip through your fingers. You need to make sure you have a follow-up system, are nurturing campaigns, and of course, are making great offers to help with conversions.
If you don’t already have a relationship-building newsletter, then you need one. Almost everyone is beating the drum of communicating and building relationships with prospects and customers right now. A newsletter is the single best way to do that. In the newsletter, you need to get personal with people. Business will be more personal than ever before after this pandemic. If you want help with any of the above strategies, then we’d be happy to help. Just visit us at NewsletterPro.com/schedule or call (208) 297-5700 to schedule an appointment.
Go Back To The Basics
From now on, you will have to focus on building your business with bricks, not straw. I’ve spent years watching entrepreneurs spend money like drunken sailors. They take customers and employees for granted, and they run up massive debt with nearly zero cash reserves. Most of the marketing and communication items I spoke about above are subpar at best. Business is won by being really good at the boring stuff, not by the next shiny object, and when we come out of this pandemic, making sure your foundation is solid will be the key to rebuilding bigger and better than before.
Right now more than ever, you need to take what I’m showing you and implement it. Not following the advice above would be a grave mistake. Many businesses that survive the lockdown won’t be able to restart and rebuild because they’re going to act like it’s business as usual. Don’t make that mistake.
Contributor at The Newsletter Pro