Many small and mid-sized businesses are struggling financially right now due to the impact of the coronavirus. It can be a scary time to be a business owner, especially if one owner watches another business close its doors and then begins to worry about potentially needing to close their own.
It can feel dreadful to think about closing a business, especially when one considers the work put into growing a company. Additionally, a business closing impacts not only the owner financially but also the local economy, clients and their employees and contractors.
However, there are things a business owner can do to protect their business and position themselves as an authority during trying times. As an expert in business strategy, I specialize in helping brands market to their top-tier audience and earn more for their offerings. So in this piece, I’ve outlined how you might consider doing this during a crisis:
Get back to the basics.
First, I encourage leaders to go back to the basics and ensure they have their target market niche clearly outlined and defined. Then you can begin to focus on your top-level market audience. Every market has different tiers. In times of uncertainty, I’ve found that your top-tier audience is typically the group that’s still interested in investing. If that tier can be served, it will help leave breathing room for your business to later make offers to your mid-tier and lower-tier audience.
To clearly outline and define your target market niche, take time to write out a client avatar. This includes your client’s age, hobbies, marital status, family size, typical careers and more. Write out what they typically read, where they shop and how they present themselves in this world.
Once you are clear on your niche audience, then start to look at their typical socioeconomic status. (Note that if you’re able to identify their typical career path, it will help you define their socioeconomic status.) From that point, you can work on identifying what the top-tier market looks like, and then you can be hyper-specific with differentiating the tiers in minute details.
As you do this, remember that it is imperative to be sensitive to your audience’s needs. Make an effort to understand their pain points. If you are aware of what makes your audience tick, you can successfully avoid aggravating their pain points and instead enhance your ability to help serve them.
Brainstorm how you can offer more value to your clients.
Next, brainstorm your offerings and what you can bring to the table that is deeply transformative and will help support your audience during hardship, whether that’s in health, wellness, business or a plethora of other spaces. Ensure your business is set up so that servings and offerings are at the highest level.
In order to ensure your business is set up for this, make a list of all your businesses’ strengths. Then make a list of all your business’s weaknesses. Finding its core strengths and weaknesses allows you to plan for the future, know what you can emphasize and utilize, and see where you need to improve.
During periods of normalcy, I often encourage my clients to also think about the following scenario: If a client came to you and said, “I have a check for $100,000 that I need to spend by the end of the month,” what would you offer them as a service? How would that service offering transform the lives and business of the client? What specifically would the business do for the client, and what would the client’s testimonial be after all was done?
These questions allow you to continue to narrow down how your client thinks and feels. This allows you to make your offering more personal and ensure you’re creating an offering that will actually help your customers.
You can still practice this exercise during a crisis, but it’s more important than ever to ensure your offerings are genuine and keep empathy top of mind. Owners working through this need to be cautious, not just turn anything and everything into a high-end offer. Instead, they need to think through what would truly transform a client’s business or life and help through challenging times.
Additionally, to be crystal clear, offering this to an audience shouldn’t come across as greedy or opportunistic. Your goal is to service a specific audience market that needs grace and goodwill, as well as give a level of expertise and guidance that is rarely seen, especially in times like these.
To avoid appearing greedy or opportunistic, know the language that your client uses to describe things. Speaking their language helps you become familiar with them.
Finally, consider ways you can pay any purchases forward, such as donating a portion of your sales to a charity.
When a business remains solvent and thriving, their teams can remain intact and possibly even grow. If the income of a business is protected, then the work is protected and jobs are safe. And, when a business’s employees are protected, their clients are served and protected as well, thus creating a cycle of economic wealth. This also allows for a business to give back through a multitude of avenues.