By Nick Evans, Chairman, ExtraMile Communications

The Covid-19 virus is hitting all businesses, not equally, but it is changing things radically. For a fortunate few – those in healthcare products, online groceries, fast food delivery and funerals to name a few – there is a boom, sometimes more than they can cope with. For the rest of the business world though, it’s degrees of disruption ranging from “I’ve lost a few orders” to “my business stalled overnight and will never restart”.
Any business owner will have huge sympathy for those whose livelihood has gone and is unlikely to return in the short or even medium term: restaurateurs, hotel and leisure facility owners, holiday companies, dare I even say airlines? Travel, tourism and leisure have been dealt a hammer blow and there will be many casualties whose businesses will never recover.
For the rest of us, in shades of anxiety that cover everything from deep despair to mild optimism, there are some things we can do to get our businesses humming again. First, let’s consider some facts:
  • All businesses in your sector are in the same boat as you
  • If your business is still trading at the moment, then chances are that it will continue to do so after the lockdown
  • Interesting new ways of working have emerged where we have been forced to rethink the things we have always done
  • If your customers still need the stuff you produce, then you should be competing to sell it to them
On the other hand:
  • Some of your team maybe are on furlough or in isolation or have the virus
  • If you’re manufacturing anything, then getting people into work is a challenge, given social distancing requirements
  • Your supply chain for parts and consumables is less reliable than it was
The latter we can’t advise on, but the former we believe can addressed, and here’s how:

Contact your existing customers

Make sure your clients know that you’re there, still working and still able to solve their problems and service their needs. Silence from you will only make them think you’re not working. Whether it’s a phone call to your main contact – remember they may be working from home – or an email (make it personal though), you’ll keep your face in front of theirs.
At the same time, plan your marketing communications strategy for the next few weeks. Social media, email shots, paid search (see below), sales calls, blog posts, product and service updates – all of these form a part of your coverage that will keep your profile high.

Work your leads

You can still get new business, even in a lockdown, so work those phones, send out the mailers and keep promoting your company and its products and services. If you’re not doing it, you can bet your competitors are. In fact, check out what the competition is doing and then do it better, bigger, more appropriately. And tailor your messages to fit your audience: get comms about blue widgets to people who buy blue widgets. If there are some who are now buying red ones, then make the messaging reflect that.

Optimise and focus your website content

Don’t ignore your website. If you have some down time, go through it with a critical eye. Consider which landing pages are best suited to which client groups and then focus your energies a) on focusing the content and b) getting your clients and prospects to read it.

Raise your profile with relevant comment

Write some sharp blog content that will speak to the issues that people are currently experiencing. Illustrate it from your own context and then demonstrate that you understand the problems that your clients have. Show clearly that you have the means to solve those problems and that you’re ready and able to do so. Show you understand.

Use paid search results to boost your traffic

Once your website is refined and ready to roll, identify those landing pages and create search-based advertising to drive traffic to them. The content of your advertising will need to be to the point, focused on people’s needs and the issues they have. This is an extremely effective way of growing business through strategic ad placement.

Compete!

Above all, compete in your marketplace. Even though it appears that the world has ground to a halt, in fact businesses are working hard at working from home, addressing the challenges, being creative and exploiting new opportunities. If your business is merely marking time, then the opportunity is already lost to make a difference.
Be creative. Be energetic. Be positive.