The Fear Factor Soars
“May you live in interesting times.” It is only the first quarter of 2020 and the interesting times referred to in the apocryphal Chinese curse have clearly overtaken us. Like so many other businesses across the globe, Wodu Media is working to adapt to a playing field that is being quickly changed by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak.
We are officially in a global pandemic, a very rapidly evolving situation that is bringing on radical responses from the highest levels of government. This is an unquestionably scary time for individuals, and our prayers go out to those who have already been affected. But the coronavirus looms as a frightening specter for businesses as well. While the human survival rate for the disease remains at nearly 98%, the mortality rate among businesses, and especially small businesses, is a long way from being known.
Certainly, the early prognosis for participants in the travel and hospitality industries looks grim. The International Air Transport Association has estimated that global airline industry losses from coronavirus-related disruptions and cancellations could reach $113 billion. Cruise ship company stocks have been hammered down 80% from their highs. Online restaurant reservation service company OpenTable is reporting a median drop of 95% in the number of seated diners at 60,000 restaurants across 38 states.
Other than some companies fortunate enough to be manufacturing or retailing surgical masks and gloves or toilet paper, business owners in the age of coronavirus are absolutely looking at a very dangerous situation going forward. To continue our China-related myth-busting, while the Mandarin Chinese word for “crisis” does convey the notion of a dangerous moment or time when things begin to go wrong, neither of the two characters that make up the word wēijī (wēi 危) + jī 机) signifies opportunity. Instead, the word indicates a perilous situation where one should be especially wary.
Coronavirus Disease: The Great Equalizer
Luckily, here at Wodu media we usually speak English. We are a Florida-based American company with global reach, and as a team that has been offering businesses creative strategies for overcoming challenges since 1999, we do see the potential for opportunity in this unprecedented crisis. Things are not hopeless at all – Your business can come through this with flying colors if you apply some out-of-the-box thinking and line up the right people on your side.
The most important overarching fact to recognize is the coronavirus pandemic is, for the most part, an equal-opportunity disaster. Giant multinationals are being hit just as hard as little mom & pop restaurants or retailers. In fact, a cruise ship company or airline may have a more difficult time getting through this than a smaller, more nimble operation.
Along the same lines of thinking, your business may be taking a shot, but your competition is also getting hit. Make the right defensive and offensive moves with more speed and accuracy than a close competitor and this situation could be leveraged into a lead for your business. To that end, here are some general principles to consider.
Keep in Touch, Communicate, and Reassure
Now is not the time to drop out of sight. Boost your web presence, power-up your social media outreach, and let your customers know your business is still ready to serve their needs. There may be changes in business hours, sudden closures, adjustments in policies. Make sure your customers are kept up to date. You may need to change the way you reach your market and deliver your goods and services, but you can still do it. Just remember that more information adds up to more comfort for most people.
Offer Something Special
It’s a good time to go the extra mile to get your customers through the door and make them happy. Put on some deals, send out some coupons, offer some specials. Incentivize online purchases with free deliveries, points and rewards plans, enclosed coupons or free gifts, better selections, and more fun, interesting browsing, and shopping experiences. If your business includes a large face-to-face component and you have to shut down for a few days, send out an email blast announcing your grand-reopening with bargains. And use the downtime to give your shop and inventory a refreshing facelift. People are scared now, so even the little things like a great deal or a free dessert can bring distraction, cheer, and excitement.
Show Your Appreciation for Customer Support During the Hard Times
Now more than ever it is important to reach out with follow-ups after your sales. Use email campaigns to say thank you and ask for some feedback. Send out gifts to reward loyal customers. Go beyond the use of website live chat functions to support incoming sales – they can also be used for post-sales contacts to say thanks and answer questions. Pay careful attention to responding to your reviews in a timely manner.
Don’t Forget Your Employees
This crisis has already seen dedicated workers in many industries working long hours in difficult and even risky conditions. Don’t forget the people who are critical to getting your company through this crisis. Large chains like Kroeger’s and Target are offering bonuses and putting on extra help to relieve teams that have been working short-handed due to sick-outs and self-quarantines. Treat your team members right, reward them for sacrifices, keep an eye on their health, and give them the time needed to care for ill family members. It will all pay off in the long run.
We Will Get Through This Together
We are facing a serious challenge, there is no getting around that. However, with the right attitude and correct strategies, we can weather the storm both as individuals and business owners. The team at Wodu Media is here and ready to back you up whether you are one of our many old and valued clients or are just coming on board. Feel free to reach out to us via live chat, email, or phone (800-909-WODU) and let’s talk about turning this crisis into an opportunity for your business.