A definitive guide on how to run your business during the coronavirus outbreak
The first part of 2020 is a nightmare for small and medium businesses. Industries like tourism, fashion, retail, and sport are experiencing turmoil. Under these circumstances, how should businesses stay afloat? Adapt and search for new opportunities, of course. Combin has prepared recommendations on how to adapt to the novel coronavirus reality.
How Coronavirus lockdown impacts businesses
According to the recent study, 55 per cent of marketers in the UK and 57 per cent in North America are pausing product and service launches, with the majority of respondents claiming the marketing budget is under review.
Some companies are reconsidering their marketing strategy but cannot determine what direction and strategy to take; others tighten up marketing budgets and wages.
Which businesses face difficulties
Sales in the fashion and retail sectors have unsurprisingly declined in most areas as brick-and-mortar stores are made to shutter, and consumers try to stay rational in their spending amid the turmoil around unemployment and the economic disruption.
Besides, some countries have been influenced more than others. According to research from Nosto, which analysed trends in the fashion, apparel & accessory industry between the 1st and 20th March, France has undergone an especially severe drop in sales. The UK came in at second place with a lower drop of 29%, followed by the US at 27%.
Tourism certainly is affected more than any other sector. Flights and trips have been cancelled massively due to the current social distancing and border shutdowns.
Despite an exceptional number of people cancelling pre-booked leaves and deciding not to travel during this time, it doesn’t mean they have stopped looking at holidays altogether, according to a report from Izea published on 18th March.
Sports is yet another category that is facing challenges the world over. Nearly all sports events are cancelled or delayed because of the coronavirus outbreak.
To keep themselves entertained, footballers, among which are Lionel Messi and Marcus Rashford, have launched a #StayAtHomeChallenge on Instagram.
Basketball with the NBA season cancelled, or even 2020 Tokyo Olympics are facing similar challenges.
Some e-commerce goods are unsurprisingly experiencing big downturns — suitcases and briefcases, cameras, men’s swimwear and bridal saw significant sales decline as a result of outdoor excursions, holidays and weddings being postponed.
Not all categories are on lockdown, though
It was predictable that some industries would suffer much less than others. And here are these lucky ones which are now thriving.
IT and software
Our company is a perfect example that demonstrates this. During the first week of the US lockdown, monthly active users’ number of our Instagram scheduling software has grown by 15% and this number continues to grow.
Yes, fitness clubs and gyms are closed. But some of them which want to thrive during these challenging times are setting up their activities online.
For instance, Yoga Girl is offering 30 days of yoga for free and Mrs Sweendog is posting bodyweight home workouts every day on her Instagram.
CrossFit gyms all over the world are having Zoom workouts and sportswear brands like Under Armour are also joining the movement.
A lot of people are taking social distancing as an opportunity to let their skin “breathe”, but that doesn’t mean everyone has stopped wearing makeup. Even if we’re not face-to-face or wearing face masks every time we go outside, we are still having many contacts online on Zoom or Skype, and people will still want to wear makeup for the team calls.
Skincare brands that outreach to influencers will benefit from this situation: influencers need enquiries and finally have time to review products. And influencers’ audiences also have more time for skincare, so the growth of products for care routine is expected to grow.
How do businesses stay afloat amid COVID-19?
Right now is not the time to be pushing products. People don’t have extra income to spend on disposable things. On the contrary, they prioritise necessities.
As an entrepreneur, the first thing you need to do is to seek out for new opportunities to build your online presence.
Launching social media accounts, creating an appealing landing page, setting up delivery and shipping are the first essential steps to digitising your business. If you are present online already, here’s what you need to do with it.
- Use real-time marketing
Coronavirus is a source of problems for many people, yet, at the same time, it’s an issue everybody wants to read about. You don’t even need to use the word “coronavirus” or “COVID-19” to draw attention.
Small hints like face-masks on your company logo or a product or toilet paper depicted on the image you’re posting will function properly. For instance, software developers 4K Download use the recognisable face masks put on their products’ logos.
But remember that this topic is still controversial, and if you don’t put this right, negative comments and critics are inevitable.
- Offer the necessary products and services
No matter what your business or niche is, offer something people demand right now — face masks, anti-bacterial wipes, sanitisers or disposable gloves are what people need right now.
- Find new tools and opportunities
Now, this is the right time to start working on your online presence. Schools are teaching online, many companies are working remotely, gyms work out with their clients via Zoom and messengers, movies are shown on online theatres, restaurants are delivering food contactless, and many other businesses are finding their unique ways to adapt to this new reality.
There are certain companies that can’t work remotely but still do some research to find out how you can possibly adapt to the lockdown.
Also, streamline your customers’ lives by providing online services to them — online orders, applications, payments are just some to name.
- Give discounts and free products
For instance, Marvel Comics are offering free access to their best comics for two months. Within the two-month period, people can download Marvel top comics for free. Or take Pornhub as an example. At first, they gave the Premium access to Italians when they got locked down, but now any user can get this access by registering on the website and creating an account.
- Leverage social media content
Content focusing on mental health and keeping healthy will certainly be of interest to consumers at this time. Equally as important is content that keeps us busy, optimistic and excited about the world as we collectively navigate through this topsy-turvy time.
Be useful to your audience — publish tutorials, online lessons, life hacks, and tips. But at the same time, don’t forget to keep your audience entertained. People tend to spend so much time on social media these days not only to get news from there but also to escape from terrifying news they see on mass media.
- Don’t discard influencer marketing
Influencers are facing hard times, too. Then why not help each other? According to the recent Influence Central report, influencers see significant growth in their impressions and engagement, which means people scroll social media a lot. Yet along with this, influencers don’t get new partnership enquiries and face income cuts. So find a relevant influencer for your business and outreach them.
- Don’t tighten your ads budget
Clearly, now you need to save money for rent, wages, and other costs. But if you stop running ads, how will you attract new customers? The trick here is to change your ads a bit so that they look on point under the circumstances — include fewer images and videos that showcase kissing, hugging, holding hands or touching.
No precise number will now tell you when the crisis is over and if there’s a way to act properly under the circumstances. There’s no one-fits-all approach for any company and every industry.
One is true that the post-coronavirus world will not be the same. So all we can do now is to perceive this time as a period of opportunity, not of crisis.