by Art Saxby, CEO, Founder and Principal of Chief Outsiders
While much of today’s information about the Coronavirus is centered on what companies are currently doing for themselves and for their people, not that much has been written on how to weather the storm and come out shining on the other side. It’s unclear how long this current predicament will last, but companies can be proactive and lay the groundwork for staying as healthy as possible for the next few months and be ready for new opportunities when things normalize.
We polled our more than 70 CMOs with Fortune 500 experience and developed the following set of practical steps to help business leaders successfully continue to market and manage things through this time of crisis:
Push Ahead, Prepare to Pivot.
Continue to push ahead with marketing where it makes sense and adapt your strategy accordingly. Communicate honestly and keep customers, partners and employees informed about what is really going on. Shelve the hype on past successes and focus on creating new and differentiated offerings. Move events budget to PPC, ABM, Virtual Events and Webinars and invest in additional video production.
Watch Operations, Plan Scenarios.
Move quickly to understand your true financial picture – reduce or delay loan repayments if possible – watch your cash flow. Manage your inventory carefully, don’t drive volume with discounts for now. Leadership teams should establish a framework for action, touch base daily and communicate frequently with employees and customers. Make sure your virtual work plans work – for employees and customers.
Plan for the Future.
Stay focused and maintain a state of readiness so you can ramp up quickly when things start to rebound. Don’t panic, spend as much time analyzing opportunities as threats. Hold a steady course and look for competitive advantages that will best serve your clients.
Stay Customer & Employee Focused.
Be proactive in communications on operational issues, product and service delivery and policy changes. Leverage digital channels to stay in touch and ensure that your employees and customers know what you are doing to remain open for business. As much as possible, conserve cash and be ready to adjust quickly to rapidly changing situations.
Be Ready to Move Fast.
Business will be disrupted, but those that maintain operational readiness, that can respond the quickest after the containment period is over and the economy starts to recover, will win. If you have cash, go for market share and be ready to acquire for growth as various sectors shake out.
Prepare for Opportunities and Fallout.
Be sure to run through all possible scenarios and pay attention to what’s happening in all directions. Opportunities will come from this, but you need to rationally balance an optimistic outlook with the worst case by preparing for potential fallout. Be flexible and open minded – don’t feed the frenzy but stay tuned in.
Launch New Offerings.
Capitalize on new ways to deliver your services to your clients with virtual offerings and digital delivery for teaching, training and coaching. Consider limited time offers or subscriptions for employees that are new to working from home. Find creative ways to leverage your core competencies to help people cope with virtual wor
k environments, compliance with social distancing rules and government mandates for behavior.
Heed Practical, Specific Advice.
Adopt the appropriate tools and develop the internal capacity and processes to operate your business virtually. Measure the impact this has on your business daily with an operational dashboard and course correct as needed. Take this opportunity to better understand your market and revisit your strategic and marketing plans – from lead generation to order close and fulfillment.
The more you rationally maintain as much momentum as you can through the restrictions, while thoughtfully preparing for the inevitable recovery, the better your business will come through this.
Art Saxby is CEO, Founder and Principal of Chief Outsiders, the US’s leading fractional CMO firm focused on mid-size company growth. An innovator and born nomad, Art Saxby has secured a reputation as a “Mr. Fix It” for midsize and larger companies. Saxby’s proficiency in finance and operations complements a solid background in branding and positioning, multicultural marketing, advertising, communications strategy, change management, and more.