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Thinking Beyond “survival Mode” For NZ Businesses

Businesses should be planning on how to get through the Covid-19 crisis with three priorities. An intact team, a reasonable balance sheet, and the necessary steps for recovery and future growth.

CEO of Auckland digital marketing agency Insight Online, Kim Voon, says although his business will be severely impacted during the shutdown, they are focused on retaining all staff, helping wherever possible with clients, even if they are pausing activity, and planning for recovery on the other side.

“It’s a crazy time right now, people are scared. I’m scared. But I have a responsibility to my staff and my clients. My team and I have had hard discussions about what we need to sacrifice right now. Obviously, this is necessary and very real, but businesses should not forget that this is also temporary.

“Think proactively, focus on investing in the goodwill of your customers and your staff. The crisis will pass, and business will come back. It will be better than ever if you are thoughtful about how you do things now; it is in a crisis that people see your true colours.”

Voon said that about half the agency’s clients will need to pause activity.

“We’ve put our contracts with them on hold and will help them on an hour by hour basis because, even though it’s tough for us, we know it’s tough for everyone. This is the time to be more generous not less.”

He recommends the following strategies for companies that are interested in more than survival:

1. Consider maintaining advertising visibility (if possible)

Your competitors may be cutting back, which means you might have an opportunity to be visible in ways you weren’t able to before.

“When demand drops for advertising, so does the price – particularly with Google Ads and Facebook. This means you can get much greater exposure cheaply. Plan for stronger spending once we see the threat level decreasing and economic activity picking up.”

2. Be kind

“Don’t make this about survival at any cost,” says Voon. “Make this about helping your customers in any way you can. They will remember you for it later and even if they don’t, you will feel better about yourself and your business and that is an advantage.”

It’s particularly important to watch your messaging during this time – being seen as ‘taking advantage’ could be disastrous, but a careful communications strategy based on genuine empathy can strengthen the goodwill in your brand.

3. Diversify

Voon says now is not the time to be fussy.

“Take whatever business comes your way. We’re accepting smaller projects because it helps our customers and our staff and helps keep us in business. “

4. Look to pivot towards smart opportunities

“We’re starting to hear about businesses investing in new products such as distilleries making hand sanitiser. Many of our clients are looking to invest in providing their products/services online as well. Some are looking at new offerings – which is terrific.

“We also find, after some discussion, there’s likely something your business provides that can be switched to digital channels quickly and at a minimum of cost. Or perhaps a part of your sales or delivery process that can now be provided online.”

Voon says that times of crisis, are also times of opportunity. It’s the ones that dig in, support the people around them, and look realistically but hopefully to the future, that emerge stronger than ever.

The Covid-19 pandemic should be no different.

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