Turn lemons into lemonade: identifying business opportunities during the Coronavirus crisis

Australia’s economic situation has certainly turned sour in the last few days, leaving businesses reeling from the Coronavirus pandemic. The situation is changing daily and all of us are feeling anxious and worried about what the future holds. This sense of powerlessness can be debilitating, but in this article, we look at ways you can squeeze the most out of a bad situation and turn lemons into lemonade in the wake of COVID-19.

Support your staff.

With many staff now working from home, effective internal communications are key to reinforcing culture, maintaining a positive and engaged workforce. This is a time for strong leadership. McKinsey & Company talks about the need for leaders to show ‘bounded optimism’ (quiet confidence, combined with realism) when in crisis mode.

Video is one way of offering reassurance and a sense of human connection, without subjecting staff to risks associated with close contact. Simple messages (especially animations) can be produced quickly and relatively cost-effectively. In the video below Publicis Groupe chairman and chief executive Arthur Sadoun recently demonstrated how video can be used to offer solidarity and reassurance to staff. It’s important that these messages are authentic. You don’t want to be caught saying one thing, then doing another.

Email updates are also essential for crisis communication, while online training and accessible online resources will carve out clarity and consistency in an era of confusion. Well-maintained intranets are a way of making policies and corporate knowledge easily accessible.

Connect with your customers.

Times like these can often make or break brand loyalty. There are likely to be interruptions to manufacturing, delivery and service provision in the coming months. Organisations are going to be judged on their level of understanding and the quality of customer service.

Get it right and you may inspire loyalty for life. Get it wrong and you can leave a bitter taste in the mouth of your customers. Use this opportunity to add real value to people’s lives and they will thank you for it. Woolworths has recently been praised for connecting with Meals on Wheels to make groceries more accessible. On the flip-side, they have been criticised for encouraging vulnerable shoppers to visit stores when their shelves are empty. When in crisis mode organisations are allowed to make mistakes as long as they remain transparent, keep customers abreast of changes and communicate empathically. An eDM strategy is essential for this.

A customer-centric approach can give businesses a competitive advantage. Look back at any existing research to help you anticipate customer needs and guide potential responses.

Business opportunities during the Coronavirus crisis.

While many sectors will suffer from the economic implications of Coronavirus (COVID-19), there are still opportunities for growth. Home delivery services, online learning and the health sector as a whole are all booming.

Social isolation is likely to lead to a lot more screen-time if China’s experience of Coronavirus (COVID-19) is anything to go by. During January and February time online increased by 20%, mobile gaming went up 44% and time spent watching short videos grew by 14%. To benefit from this uplift, it’s important to squeeze the most out of your digital spending. Now is the time to have a well-oiled e-commerce platform. Organisations should also make sure websites are optimised for search. Consider investing in paid search and ensure you have a digital presence that makes you stand out in the crowded online space.

Social media posts showing successful business initiatives during Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Successful business initiatives from Canlis and Old Forth Distillery in response to Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Businesses with a growth mindset are still finding opportunities amidst the Coronavirus crisis. Canlis, a fine-dining restaurant in Seattle, has swapped its usual silver service menu for drive-through burgers and home-delivered family meals. Their website is humming and their parking lot is full of happy punters, while hundreds of competitors in the hospitality industry are feeling the squeeze.

Spotting a gap in the hand-sanitiser market, some liquor distilleries and perfumeries are using their facilities to create alcohol-based cleaning solutions.

Of course, for other industries, a ‘wait-and-see’ approach is best. In these instances, you can still look on the sunny side. Use this quiet period to consolidate and prepare for what lies ahead. By putting the right plans in place now, you’ll be able to press play and hit the ground running when the crisis is over.

The lemonade.

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis is only just in its infancy. We need to be prepared for change and challenges ahead… It’s easy to feel powerless in a situation like this, but it’s important to remember there are opportunities in a crisis and many things businesses can do to regain some control.

Please contact us if you need help communicating with staff or customers, or planning for the long, hard road ahead.

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