I had an interesting conversation a few days ago with a marketing consultant in the USA. We were comparing the situation there with COVID-19 and lockdowns and how business was hurting, etc, with what is happening here in New Zealand.
The way the governments, and some of the people, have reacted, is very different. But the effect on small business has been very similar. Basically, we concluded, small businesses were scared. They aren’t prepared to spend any money on anything that is not pretty much a guaranteed way to get a return.
Small businesses in the post-COVID world are not keen on spending money on new websites. Very few understand SEO sufficiently to be convinced that it will increase traffic to their existing website. And they are sceptical about advertising because they believe their target new customers are also being conservative about spending money.
In a recent article, McKinsey says “In a muted recovery, it could take more than five years for the most affected sectors to get back to 2019-level contributions to GDP.” and “Many small businesses across sectors came into the COVID-19 crisis with low financial resilience.”(1)
So what can small businesses actually do today to survive and grow? Most small businesses can’t envisage surviving for the next five years on their savings alone. And, apart from those who have been able to quickly diversify and provide a product or service that is now in high demand, most are pretty much stuck with what they have always been doing.
Yes, a new website, SEO investment or advertising might help. If a small business has some money to spare, these are all excellent ways to survive.
But what about looking at the existing customer base? Forbes says “it makes sense to focus efforts and funds to nurture your existing customers who are spending their money on your goods or services time and time again.” (2)
Depending on what type of small business you are running, you quite possibly have a long list of previous customers who would love to buy from you again. That person who bought a car from you five years ago might well be thinking about a replacement. The woman who bought a puppy from your pet store six months ago will need an adult-size jacket for it now that winter is coming. And so on.
Contacting previous customers or clients could give your small business the fast cash injection it needs. This could be to get out of a debt situation, to purchase equipment needed to adopt a new business model, or to invest in advertising for new customers.
How you contact previous customers and what you offer them will vary depending on what information you have about them. (And if you have NO contact details for previous customers, maybe now is a good time to start gathering it?)
Email, SMS, even physical hand-written cards in the letterbox are all options, depending on the nature of your business. It could be anything as simple as “We miss you”, to something that offers a discount: “Here’s a $20 off coupon exclusively for you as an existing customer”.
Want to get in touch and have a brain-storming session on what is possible for YOUR business? Get in touch today.