As we hit September, I’ve been thinking more and more about how businesses can survive in the ongoing economic environment of the pandemic as reports are starting to come out that we may not be through dealing with the financial impacts of the virus yet.
While none of us know exactly what the next few months are going to look like and we definitely don’t have any idea of when we will be able to “get back to normal” if that is even possible.
If you are running a business or trying to stabilize your career right now, here are some actions that you can take no matter what.
Rethink your value proposition:
In many countries, we have become used to the idea that HR and buyers want us to fit into an easily digested box or description.
This is helpful to them as they want to make the easiest justifiable decision, not necessarily the best, but the one they can justify.
But that only puts you in a position to end up as yet another commodity in a world where being a commodity means racing to the bottom against your competition from around the world.
As we continue through the pandemic, it is important that we all step back and think through what our value proposition to the world we want to serve really is.
Three reasons that stand out to me to justify this investment in attention are:
- The world and economy we live in has changed over the last 6 months so assuming what worked before will work now isn’t a safe bet.
- You may be in a position that you want to apply different skills or different ideas to help add value in the future.
- Trends that were in play and starting to visibly impact us are even more relevant now. Your industry or neighborhood likely has its own specific trends, but just pay attention to the way things have accelerated and changed.
How do you rethink your value proposition now?
Begin by thinking through the outcomes you or your business create or aim to create for the folks you serve.
Are they the same or different?
Does your marketing reflect this?
Being proactive in their marketing and selling:
The data is pretty clear, brands that invest in marketing and advertising during a downturn get a big boost in long-term brand value for a lot of reasons like cheaper advertising and less competition for their customer’s attention.
At the start of the pandemic, it was pretty overwhelming how everyone that we’d ever bought from, engaged with, or known sent us emails talking about how they were getting you through the pandemic, how they were there for you, or some other bollocks.
The problem with this outreach that seemed to dominate during that early period is that it was all focused on the business sending the note, not the value or the needs that you or your organization might have.
Because messages like this likely fell into the void, were mocked, or generally dismissed, folks have made an assumption that marketing and sales right now is a waste.
They are wrong.
What will make your marketing and selling effective right now is a focus on providing value to your audience, prospects, and customers.
This means being proactive with purpose.
How can we be proactive about our marketing and selling right now?
I’ll give you three easily actionable ways to be proactive in your sales and marketing:
- Provide value through insights that you’ve gained talking to prospects, clients, and people around your industry.
- Create a survey asking folks what they are struggling with, trying to focus on, or what they’ve learned. Then compile those insights and share them.
- Reach out to provide value without the overwhelming pressure of having to make the sale ASAP. Start by offering value and move up the value ladder.
The key in being proactive in your marketing and sales now is that you have to focus on how you are going to create value for the folks you are trying to serve right now.
Start with value and work from there.
To put it another way, what’s in it for the customer first. You come next.
Find ways to be consistent in taking action:
I’ve written about value proposition at the top and about being proactive in the world of sales and marketing in the middle. To close out these ideas, I want to write about being consistent in taking action.
For many folks, dealing with uncertainty can be paralyzing.
My son’s tutor said that one of the challenges a lot of kids deal with when they are learning and their parents want them to do better is they get instruction that doesn’t really have any context around it, confusing the kids, and disincentivizing them.
Like, “Johnny, you need to work harder.”
What does work harder mean?
You can’t be sure.
Instead, you would be better served by saying, “Johnny, your work isn’t coming out as well as it could. I think you’ll get better results by reading the directions twice so that you get the overview on the first pass and on the second pass you can be clear about what exactly the instructions are.”
This is different, yeah?
So, back to you with consistent action.
What does this mean?
Marketing writer, Colin Lewis, shared a piece he is working on with me and he talked about focusing on “inputs” and working on getting “3-4 wins” a day as a way to build your self-esteem.
In thinking through your ability to take positive action consistently, let’s think through some simple ways that you can achieve wins and focus on positive actions for your business. Here are a few that I think any of us can actually do with consistency that will add up over time.
- Focus on sending 3 emails to prospects or clients a day.
- Identify 1 piece of insightful content or other marketing collateral you want to create and map out the steps needed to build the piece. Then commit to taking one action every day until you’ve completed it.
- Spell out what a win looks like in your business and commit to finding a way to achieve 2 or 3 of those a day.
You can add more as you go forward, but let’s start here with some tangible stuff that is easy to knock out, and that will allow you to see progress quickly.
In thinking about what I can do or what my partners can do to get their businesses moving or heading in a better direction right now, I found a lot of different ways that we could move forward. But in a lot of cases, we need to start with some of the basics so that we can achieve a few wins and make certain that we are moving in the direction we want to move in.
While these aren’t the only things you can do, they should be a good place to start.
Let me know what you think!