Our lives slowed down and so did our businesses. A situation like this offers two options: we can either feel sorry for ourselves, sit down, whine and wait for it to pass, or we can accept it, face it and start searching for opportunities.
Golob should know. She’s a European powerhouse when it comes to advising major companies on marketing, customer relationships and direct marketing. In a career spanning nearly 30 years, she’s helped companies and brands build loyalty, trust and lasting relationships with customers. She helped build Studio Moderna into the largest direct marketing network in Europe and has advised the likes of Renault Nissan, Intesa San Paolo Bank as well as the biggest firms in her native Slovenia. She’s author of the hit Stop Chasing Weekends, a guide for women to balancing career and family, and the forthcoming Stop Chasing Customers: How To Build Meaningful Relationships in the New Business Reality.
The pandemic period has been catastrophic for many businesses, particularly the restaurant and hospitality industries, while others, particularly those that function primarily online, have seen a boost in business. But regardless of your business type, Golob offers 3 key things that any business owner can do to maximize resilience even in such trying times as these.
Show Customers you Care
Use the situation to strengthen relationships with your existing customers, Golob advises. “Thank them for their business, ask them how they are and what they need. Sometimes just listening to them does wonders. Inform them about what changed for you and how that influences your relationship with them, if at all.
Become their thinking partner – think for them and instead of them – you’d be surprised how many ideas for a business boost you might get directly from your customers.
Let them know they can count on you. Communicate regularly: use channels that you’ve thus far neglected. Keep them informed about what you’re up to, offer advice or other engaging, useful content to help them solve their problems.
Invite customers on a joint mission that connects your brand’s values with theirs and helps improve the quality of people’s lives.
Connect with Your Team
Remote work has become a new normal during the pandemic. The line between work and private life has blurred. While working from home may have lots of advantages, beware of the “out of sight – out of mind syndrome” that might put the team spirit in danger. Your team is all you have.
Trust and sincere, open communication is vital for a team to function, especially in this new reality and a future that looks set to focus more on working remotely and from home. How can you communicate better? What processes can be simplified? What can you do more effectively? How can you support each other better? What do you have that you’re not using?
A common purpose is the glue of every effective team. Take time to remind yourselves who you serve, as a team , who your stakeholders are (internal and external) and what value you create for them. Discuss how you can serve them better and what needs to change in the way your team operates in order to do so. Discuss how you can work together in a more effective way and how you can engage with external stakeholders (e.g. customers, business partners, community) in a way that strengthens relationships with them.
Don’t be afraid to share mistakes – it’s an opportunity to build a supportive working environment in which mistakes are a part of the learning process, where the team takes time to reflect on its development and where everyone can thrive.
This is also a good time to learn new things: there are various online courses and training systems available. It’s never been easier to get access to the top world’s experts and bring them into your living room. Ask yourself and your team members: what skills are we lacking? What knowledge do we need to acquire in order to thrive in the future? Who can help us?
Create New Opportunities
When life gives you lemons, make the best lemonade. Corona has given us all a few lemons. The only way to survive is to adapt – the faster you are, the more chance you have for your business to survive or even thrive in the new reality. The truth is that nobody really likes change.
If your business has shrunk, think about new target audiences: who else could use your products or services? How can you take advantage of the internet? How can you make your business more digital, so it better stands out? What other channels that you are currently not applying could you use?
Maybe you have resources (people, vehicles, product stock) that another business is lacking? Who can you partner with? Maybe you have a fleet of cars, but due to reduced passenger traffic you could partner with a local store or restaurant chain to help them with door to door delivery? Who can help you create better value for your customers?
And last but not least: do you want to be the best in the world or the best for the world? Now it’s a good opportunity to develop more sustainable business practices, in terms of environmental, economic or social impact and to start the change you want to see in your industry and in the world.
We can’t influence what’s happening around us, but we can always control how we react to any given situation. Business is all about the people. No matter what’s going on, we can always show respect and empathy towards the people around us: our customers and other stakeholders. Businesses can always be rebuilt, but trust, once lost, is lost forever.
You can learn more about Maja Golob at her website.