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Operating a Business Through a Crisis

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During challenging times, it seems only natural to think of the worst case scenarios, but for all that humanity has gone through, we’ve come out of it and gotten stronger. It’s important for each of our businesses, and in our personal life, to reach out and help one another, whether it be as a listening ear, or giving to those in more need than ourselves.

For eCommerce businesses, and nearly any other business, there are a number of things that can help us stay focused and build for stronger growth.

Stay calm and analyze

Panic leads to poor decision making, but it’s also a natural reaction to stress. A first step is to take a breath and step back from any negativity. We want to take a real look at the situation, as well as how our business and customers are being impacted.

What are the short and long term impacts of this crisis on your business? This will differ for every industry and business. Some businesses might see a dramatic spike in business. A natural reaction may be instant excitement of a spike in revenue or the stress of fulfilling all of those orders. Another situation could be a drop in revenue over shaken consumer confidence or need. Nearly every opportunity comes with positives and negatives, and it’s important to have a level headed view of the situation. As any business owner knows, life is an emotional roller coaster, and your health, the business and your employees are attached to that roller coaster. Steady that ship!

Analytics are a beautiful thing because they are objective. They give you a true and raw view of what is happening. Once you’ve taken stock of the situation, start to dig into changes to analytics in your website, email marketing, PPC, and social posts. Compare analytics with the previous quarter and year. Try to understand how much of a dip can be accounted to the crisis and how much is natural to the time of year.

One tip, be careful to not get too focused on your competitors and start copying them on their tactics. History is full of seemingly well off companies truly struggling or spending at a rate that is not sustainable. Be aware of what is going on in the marketplace, but trust your own analytics and make decisions that are right for your business.

Focus on building long-term consumer relationships

Too many businesses will use fear mongering or inflate prices if they see an opportunity. Short-term gain will cost you dearly long-term. Real people’s lives are being shaken at a time like this. Be a brand that shows how much you care about them as a person, not just their money. How a brand acts in a time of crisis will show their true colors, and consumers will not forget this.

Go above and beyond, understand what matters to your consumers. Is there a cause or pain point that deeply matters to them that your company can help alleviate? Even small gestures go a long way.  Focus on building a long-term relationship, not a short-term gain.

Understanding where to invest and where to divest

A panicked reaction from the thought of revenue dropping is to start cutting costs everywhere. Cost cutting could be a real solution, but be mindful where that is happening. With digital marketing, a $15,000 Google Ads bill seems like a great way to cut expenses fast, but if analytics are showing that it is returning 3x, it will make the problem worse. Under-performing campaigns might not be worth the experiment with cash being a concern. A divestment there, and an investment into a better returning one would make more sense. A number of scenarios could be painted, but the key takeaway is to not panic. Look clearly at what is making money.

Focus now and later on diversification

Something we see the importance of every day, and educate our clients on, is diversification in your marketing plan. Being diverse allows you to better insulate your business from the effects of a crisis. Consumer behaviors will change, even down to the way they consume information (or ads) and their desire of what they want to see. Facebook users in your target segment may no longer be in the mood to think about purchasing or product education on that platform. They might be more focused on finding a sense of community on that platform. They are looking to friends and family for a sense of normalcy. Yet, their expectations and thought may shift in the form of emails or onto other platforms. Being diversified means you’re not relying on one platform to generate sales for you. As one may slip during a crisis, others could hold steady or even grow.

After all, we’re human.

With all of this in mind, the most important thing to do during a crisis is come together and support one another. Person to person, business to business, let’s be true and honest to ourselves and our fellow mankind.

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