What’s your state of mind these days? Talk to a handful of business owners about how COVID and other cascading effects are impacting them and you’ll likely not get many identical answers. Seems like everyone’s fishing a different eddy in the economy right now. Some are hauling it in, while others are trying to figure out how to survive another pay cycle – and there are a pile of folks at different places between those two spots.
Are you aware of the state of mind of your prospects these days? Not February’s… today’s. What about your customers? You probably had a good grasp of this back in February, but July (like March through June) is different. Maybe their different isn’t yours, but it’s probably different from whatever normal was for them six months ago.
Do you communicate frequently (or at least regularly) with the customers and prospects in your market? Have you reviewed any of these materials? If you have automated email sequences going out, are they talking to your clients with the mindset of you in the old normal?
Even if you don’t have scheduled emails, what about ads that have to be prepped in advance? For most trade publications, you’re at or getting close to deadline for issues your market will see in four to six weeks, perhaps longer. Are those ads wash, rinse, repeat what you were submitting six months ago? Is that OK? (I don’t know – you should.)
Even if you do nothing in advance, do you have document templates, email templates, pre-printed anything, or similar that go out without a second thought?
If any of these things are in use (scheduled, ad-hoc, template based, etc)… have you reviewed them? Do they make sense this month? Do they make sense for coming months? Is it OK to have the same conversation you were having when you first wrote those things? Again, I’m not judging… I’m suggesting that you consider the state, mindset, and voice of your communications.
Be sure you have an idea what their current concerns are before launching a marketing campaign that ignores today’s reality and your market’s level of certainty. Resonating with their mindset, as usual, is critical to making your communications effective and profitable.
Understand that this isn’t solely about marketing but extends to onboarding, customer service, finance, and ultimately – every interaction you have with your customers and prospects.
What’s the big deal?
One consideration is that many businesses have staffed down. What could be impacted by customers with fewer staff?
Onboarding, if you have any. It will affect training, implementation and related processes. If these don’t progress smoothly, it will be easier than ever to ask for a refund / return.
Finance – What if the normal accounts payable person is gone and someone else is doing double duty? They may be new to everything in that department. They may have no idea what’s necessary to keep their company humming along as it relates to what you supply. The last AP staffer learned that over time. This one may not be there yet. The same goes for your suppliers.
You need to have more patience, communicate more often, simplify anything you can simplify (from their perspective), and make it easier than ever to work with you. Companies with downsized staffs or those doing everything from a survival mindset don’t have the time and energy for complex hassles. Anything you do to make it easy to do business with you will pay dividends.
In fact, every touchpoint with your customers at every stage of their life cycle could use a review. You may find that in some departments of your company every single customer interaction needs to be simpler than ever, easier than ever, and as frictionless as possible.
Even those who aren’t struggling will benefit. Some departments may not need changes. Thing is, you won’t know until you take a look, discuss with your team, and perhaps make that part of your next conversation with customers.
The more you know about how they’re impacted, how they’re adapting, how their “now” looks – the better you’ll be able to serve them and the more likely they’ll be able to keep you around as a vendor.
If your prospects & customers are focused on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (or similar needs from a business perspective), then products, processes, services and vendors that feel like luxuries, hassles, or complications will be easy to discard. Take steps to avoid being one of them.
Mark Riffey is an investor and advisor to small business owners. Want to learn more about Mark or ask him to write about a strategic, operations or marketing problem? SeeMark’s site, contact him on LinkedIn or Twitter,or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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