Bajan Strategist in the UK gives entrepreneurs tips to survive COVID
Senior Digital Marketing Strategist Leah Browne
Are all your business eggs in one Instagram basket?
Businesses need a good and proper digital strategy to survive during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond in the post-COVID era.
Barbados is in Phase 4 of its reopening plan having contained the spread of the viral illness, according to the senior health officials.
Loop News spoke with Barbadian Leah Browne, who is a Senior Digital Marketing Strategist stationed in the UK. Browne assists small and medium-sized businesses on island and abroad with various digital marketing strategies, and she believes that there are several approaches that many local small businesses can take towards sustainability, survival and ultimately growth in this current economy.
In the wake of the global COVID-19 pandemic, as many are finding their footing in this volatile and everchanging economic situation, Loop thought it best to get some insight on what self-employed persons can do to survive. Whereas bigger and more established companies may be able to weather this storm, the entrepreneur who is now starting out is far more susceptible to the perils that this current economic climate will bring.
1) Strengthen your online presence
Every aspect of how people work, shop, and even play has changed with the current pandemic. As a result, there has been an even greater shift toward the digital landscape. However, brands that do not yet have an online presence are at a significant disadvantage as their communicative reach is limited.
Businesses relying solely on social media, and considering a website to be unnecessary, are in essence putting all of their eggs in one digital basket.
A critical element of a strong online presence is an ‘owned’ online property - a website. What happens if Facebook fails? There goes your Instagram and Facebook account.
2) Communicate with your customers
Customers are experiencing uncertainty and in many cases their priorities will not be to support a particular business. After some time in lockdown, the focus will change.
Entrepreneurs must take the time to continue to communicate to their customer base even during the lockdown. Keep them informed of business changes and adjustments that are made during and after lockdown. More importantly, this is the time for businesses to show empathy and reach out to customers to understand how they can help.
3) Set a digital strategy
There has never been a better time to have a digital strategy, as we currently know where most people are - they are at home, in lockdown. A business can, therefore, plan to communicate their value to their current and potential customer base with a central focus.
It’s not enough to say that you have a social media account. What is the strategy to stand out against all of the thousands of businesses who also have an Instagram account? Presence is not enough; a strategy is needed.
4) Establish partnerships
It’s much easier to survive a crisis when working together. Many businesses can establish mutualisms to survive. Identify complementary services to cut advertising costs, negotiate a bulk discount on supplies, or even recommend new customers to each other. Small businesses especially, can form consortiums and agree on a strategy to support each other.
5) Review costs
Although restrictions are gradually being relaxed, uncertainty remains high. One certainty is that the economic impact of the crisis will not be short term, and this is already exemplified by the sharp increase in unemployment. Spending power therefore will be reduced.
The survival of a business in this time will be reliant on its ability to remain solvent and reduce costs. Overheads like rents, utilities, and salaries impact on a business will have an even greater impact where revenue has been reduced. Businesses need to make the effort to reach out to policymakers, identify financial support schemes and any initiatives to assist in the reduction of overhead costs.
A common theme amongst the businesses that survived the major economic crises in the past was diversification. They recognised that spending power was significantly reduced and customers were focusing their spending on essentials. Those businesses that survived reviewed their offerings and provided lower priced items to retain their customer base.
We’re now facing another pandemic and the economic effects are similar so people will be more focused on essentials, opting out of ‘luxuries’ and ‘higher-priced’ products. This is an opportunity for businesses to add lower priced products or services for those customers who may no longer be able to afford their regular price points.
Experts estimate the global revenue loss due to COVID-19 may be upwards of USD $4 Trillion. Hopefully this advice can help you and your business navigate this storm of uncertainty to successfully reach the end of the rainbow post-COVID.