IMage of business reaching customers during the pandemic

What now? Support for SME Businesses during the COVID19 Pandemic

Welcome to a radically-changed marketplace where we all need to avail of every support for SME Businesses during the COVID19 Pandemic. As of the weekend, the majority of Irish businesses have been forced to close and many face an uncertain future. I hope you’re hanging in there, and are not completely overwhelmed by this crisis. With many of my own planned activities cancelled or postponed, I was inspired to drop a note to my clients and associates to offer some practical advice for sales and marketing in this uncertain market. I’ll say first that this situation is unprecedented, and there is no textbook approach to follow. However, what we do in the coming weeks will really impact our ability to recover from this crisis. There is some support for SME Businesses during COVID19 Pandemic out there, and here’s what I’ve been advising my sales and marketing clients over the phone in recent days:

  •  Put family first and MIND OURSELVES – as there will be no business to recover if we’re not around. Seriously. Listen to the experts. Stay at home. Don’t take chances. Be safe.
  • Preserve our working capital. Stop spending, and cut as many costs as possible from the monthly budget. Talk to the bank to avail of the 3-month freeze on your loans or mortgages. There’s no shame in this. The business community is facing an unprecedented crisis, and it’s impacting everyone, not just you.
  • Evaluate the layoff or business subsidy schemes on offer for your staff.
  • Be proactive, and take firm control over what you can control when it comes to finances.
  • Revisit, refresh, and REBOOT our sales and marketing strategy, Find new ways to sell!

Think of our Customer – our sales strategy should always be centred on him, and now is no different.

  • What does he want NOW? What new problems has this crisis created for him?
  • Can we solve any of those problems?
  • Can we reach our past loyal customers through another channel? Can we find new customers through the limited sales channels that are continuing to operate?
  • How will we retain our relationship with those customers, even if our doors are closed?

Assess the Competitive Market for our sectors.

  • Are our products even still relevant?
  • Will they be relevant again when this is over?
  • Is our pricing/delivery method still appropriate?
  • Have other competitive businesses evolved in a direction we could learn from?
  • Have other businesses closed – creating an opportunity for ours?

Reboot our Company Sales and Marketing Strategy.

  • What, if anything, can we be doing now?
  • How can our products or services be retooled to sell online, or over the phone, or through other platforms?
  • What other assets do we have at our disposal, which could be turned into a saleable commodity? Be imaginative – could we consult/teach/work remotely?
  • What’s the right tone for our customer communications at this time? Sensitive? Practical? Informative? Empathetic? Uplifting?
    • What can you do NOW, to get ready to sell effectively once the markets reopen for business?
    • Set SMART Goals – for now, and for longer-term (SMART Goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely)
    • Write them down and put them up somewhere you’ll see them every day Develop a Strategy to achieve those goals, by identifying the important initiatives you need to achieve
    • Identify what we need to complete those initiatives – maybe it’s financing, maybe expert resources, or maybe things we need to build or buy to make it happen
    • Build a Plan to achieve the Strategy – consisting of timed actions and steps on a prioritised to-do list
    • Then DO IT If you need help in this regard – get started by arranging a FREE call with a sales and marketing expert from our team.
We’re here to help, and speaking of help…

Take all the help that’s going!
Seek out and avail of support for SME Businesses during the COVID19 Pandemic Local Enterprise Offices have launched a number of supports for businesses, including the Business Continuity Voucher. The primary aim of the scheme is to help us continue to trade (safely) right now, or resume trading as soon as possible.
Apply for the help here, or on your county Local Enterprise Office website.

Use it for one or more of these things:

  • Develop a sales and marketing plan to enable you to continue trading now or resume trading promptly and aggressively when things calm down
  • Develop a business continuity plan Assess our current financial needs in the short term, or medium-term
  • Reduce variable costs, overheads and expenses
  • Review and explore supply chain financing options Implement remote working processes or procedures
  • Leverage HR expertise to manage our staffing
  • Leverage ICT expertise
  • Prepare a loan application for Banks, SBCI or Microfinance Ireland

The local LEO office will organize for skilled experts to roll the sleeves up and assist you in all these areas. Critically, THEY WILL ALSO COVER THE COST OF THAT ASSISTANCE under this voucher scheme. The form is easy to fill in. You should name the advisor/consultant/s you want to work with if you have someone in mind. If you don’t have an expert in mind, they will appoint one for you. Apply NOW, as there will be a big deluge of applications for this, and you want to get your needs met quickly. They say nothing in life is free – but THIS IS FREE. So you’d be mad not to avail of it. 

One of my favourite quotes is this one from the autobiography of Theodore Roosevelt, published exactly one hundred years ago, in 1920. It’s as valid now as it was then.

“Do what you can, where you are, with what you’ve got”

 

Let’s all do what we can, where we are, with what we’ve got, and let’s stay focused on a brighter future. 

Wishing you well in this crisis and beyond.

Stay safe, and #StayAtHome.

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