Few were prepared for a crisis the magnitude of COVID-19, and many feel the pain of unemployment. Yet somehow, women faced the brunt of this impact the most with an unemployment rate three percentage points higher than men’s (16.2% to 13.5%). Rebuilding in the wake of a novel event takes a unique approach for anyone, but even more so for women who have careers, businesses and futures on the line. So how does one even know where to begin?
Marketing expert and CEO of Tola Marketing + Creative, Cassandra Shuck has been building businesses in the face of adversity since her first jewelry company at the age of 7, while enduring abuse at home. After dropping out of high school at 16 to test into University with a perfect score, Shuck used her natural business intuition to build her successful, female-focused marketing agency, among other successful endeavors.
As we venture into a new normal with different rules and social practices, Shuck is guiding her clients on how to rebuild their businesses stronger and adapt to a new business landscape. Here are her tips on how to build a stronger business post COVID-19.
1. Take A Look At Your Infrastructure
“There are several areas owners should review starting with their business processes, human resources, operational tools and product quality,” says Shuck. “You may need to adjust your touch points or delivery process, adjust to a remote workforce to cut costs, or limit or change your product line based on availability.”
During times of crisis, business issues become amplified, which means problems that may have surfaced in 5-10 years are coming to fruition now instead. As everything is getting back to a new normal, businesses need to recalibrate to their new environments. It’s important to assume some of the changes that were initiated by COVID-19 may end up being permanent.
2. Access Your New Financial Plan
“Consider a new financial plan and determine where money is being allocated. Plans made before COVID-19 will need to be altered— just as business plans and infrastructures are shifting, the need for financial planning will also need to be modified for future ambitions,” suggests Shuck. “There are several places businesses can look for alternative funding sources and in times like these, there is no shame in getting creative! Crowdfunding using platforms like Indiegogo or Kickstarter are great sources if you have a strong following of supporters. Microlenders, such as Kiva and Accion, offer small loans to businesses with relatively low interest rates. Meanwhile for the more traditional route, an EIDL loan with rates around 3.5% can help provide funding to businesses that suffered from COVID-19.”
3. Diversify Your Marketing Mix
“Many businesses hit the hardest by COVID-19 were omnichannel focused. Companies which focused primarily on either social media, paid ads or a referral network are experiencing funnels and leads drying up due to the shift in the marketing landscape,” explains Shuck. “In our new economy, it is imperative to create a diverse marketing mix of at least four sources—known as the 25% Rule—to never depend on one marketing source for more than 25 percent of your business leads.”
Reach out to niche influencers as well—they have created engaged followers and communities who are still active and purchasing. With in-person events on hold, don’t be afraid to jump on connection calls with potential partners to provide useful information or friendly advice. Whether you can make the sale or not, you’ll have made a friend in business.
“Referrals are powerful—don’t underestimate the power of doing a good job. If you are reliable and deliver an amazing good or service, make sure your clients know you appreciate any and all referrals,” notes Shuck.
4. Lean Into Paid Advertising Right Now
“Advertising costs right now are very affordable and at a record low. It is an amazing opportunity for businesses to test out new markets, new messaging, and even new product lines to keep up with this ever changing landscape,” says Shuck.
“A good starting point for paid social media advertising is ad retargeting. This service goes after users that have already demonstrated an interest in your product.” Shuck recommends trying out AdRoll, where her clients have had some great wins. Another tactic is adjusting your ad strategy for optimization on mobile.
“For many businesses, the majority of their online traffic comes from clients using their mobile devices. Adjusting the percentage of your ads that target mobile users could increase your reach tremendously,” says Shuck.
No matter what adversity your business faces, these tips will help you navigate it flawlessly.