7 Vital Tips for Business Survival

Dive Shop Owners – Some advice from Marketing Guru Chris Cardell.

Chris Cardell is a UK-based marketing consultant who has helped thousands of small business owners and entrepreneurs build successful enterprises. His advice for business owners in the weeks ahead is as relevant for dive shop owners as any other small business in the world right now. The following outlines 7 vital steps small business owners need to take to minimise loss of sales and prepare your business to emerge from this chaos as strong as humanly possible.

Company and business to survive concept, businessman leader help pushing arrow in economic collapse from COVID-19 virus pathogen. Vector illustration

To be clear, I don’t have a magic wand. And I’m well aware of the enormous difficulties that many business owners are facing. But you should also be aware that many successful Entrepreneurs are viewing this as a time of enormous opportunity. Your competitors will stop everything. You shouldn’t.

So here are the big lessons we learnt from those who didn’t just survive the last recession but thrived through it. These are not my ideas. I’m not claiming they’re right or wrong. They’re just what the people who survived last time actually did.

๐Ÿญ ๐——๐—ผ๐—ป’๐˜ ๐˜€๐˜๐—ผ๐—ฝ ๐— ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—ธ๐—ฒ๐˜๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด.

This is the single biggest mistake that businesses that fail make in a recession. If you had a profitable business before this virus outbreak, low or zero sales for a few weeks won’t destroy you. What will destroy you is, when we emerge from this, if you have stopped all customer communication, you’ll have no backlog of pent up demand and customer goodwill to fall back on. It will take you another 2- 3 months to catch up when you turn the Marketing back on and by then it may be too late.

Obviously, it doesn’t make sense for some businesses to continue with paid advertising: restaurants, hotels etc. But for others, if you can possibly continue, you should. Even if you can’t get the sales right now. For example, I have a relative with a sofa store who spends 30k per month on Google. His store is now closed. We’ve reduced the budget but his Google ads will continue. When someone stuck at home three weeks from now starts dreaming of the new sofa they’re going to get when this is all over, he must be there when they search on Google. They won’t be able to buy that day, but he’ll be their first choice when they are finally able to go out and buy.

Meanwhile, his competitors will all stop marketing and advertising – and clicks will be cheaper. This is a major opportunity for most business owners.

๐Ÿฎ ๐—ฅ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด ๐—™๐—ฒ๐—ป๐—ฐ๐—ฒ ๐—ฌ๐—ผ๐˜‚๐—ฟ ๐—–๐˜‚๐˜€๐˜๐—ผ๐—บ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐˜€.

Do you care about your customers? If you do, why would you stop communicating to them just because they can’t give you money right now? The business owner who ignores their customers during this time is telling them they view their relationship as purely transactional: When the money stops, the relationship stops.

People aren’t stupid. They’ll remember this and they’ll treat those business owners accordingly when the time comes. Meanwhile, if you take the time and trouble to keep communicating with your customers, you will be rewarded. It’s also just the right thing to do.

So if you’re still selling, step up the marketing and customer communication: Emails, Facebook, even direct mail if it’s feasible.

If you’re not currently selling, just get in touch with your customers and see how they’re doing. Nobody is bothering doing that and it will blow their minds. So email them, call them, text them. I have several clients with teams working from home with not much to do. They’ve given the team contact details of all the customers and asked them to just give them a call to check in on them. People are going to crave connection in the weeks ahead. Do the right thing and you will be rewarded.

๐Ÿฏ ๐——๐—ผ๐—ป’๐˜ ๐—–๐˜‚๐˜ ๐—ฃ๐—ฟ๐—ถ๐—ฐ๐—ฒ๐˜€

Add More Value. We are obviously in a Recession and that Recession is going to continue when things get back to ‘normal.’ In the months ahead I urge you, implore you, do NOT cut your prices.

The natural inclination when selling gets hard is to reduce prices. It doesn’t work. It destroys your profit margins and you end up in a negative, destructive circle.

Also, this is going to be a weird Recession. There will still be millions of people with plenty of money. It’s just that the money is coming to a standstill for a while. When it starts moving again, those with money will not need a price reduction.

If your customers are having a hard time and you want to help, the solution isn’t cutting prices. It’s adding value. Add more value. Look at everything you do and ask how you can enhance what you offer them. Sky TV is launching new channels and adding more movies for everyone stuck at home. It’s adding more value. But it’s not cutting prices. In my business, we have clients where we manage their websites. But they’re having problems in other areas of their business. My team is jumping in to help wherever we can, whether or not we’re technically being paid for it. We’re adding more value.

So step into your customers’ shoes and ask yourself how you can add more value in the weeks ahead.

๐Ÿฐ ๐—ง๐—ฎ๐—ธ๐—ฒ ๐—ง๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐— ๐—ผ๐—ป๐—ฒ๐˜†

Across the world, governments are putting billions into funding small businesses. You may or may not agree with how they’re doing it, but if there’s cash available, take it. Even if you don’t need it right now. Take it. Cash is King.

In the UK, the government is guaranteeing business interruption loans from the banks. The next VAT quarter’s payments have been postponed and as far as we can tell, they are agreeing to postpone most current tax, VAT payments if you ask. In the USA, the April 15 tax payment deadline has been extended by 3 months.

In most countries, you can take a three month mortgage break. Take it for yourself and bear it in mind for your staff if you’re feeling guilty about paying them less. Make sure they’re educated on everything they can claim too.

All of these schemes are somewhat chaotic because they’re being run by politicians, not Entrepreneurs. But be patient, beaver away with the paperwork and Take The Money!

๐Ÿฑ ๐—™๐—ถ๐˜… ๐—ง๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—›๐—ผ๐—น๐—ฒ๐˜€ ๐—ถ๐—ป ๐—ง๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—•๐˜‚๐—ฐ๐—ธ๐—ฒ๐˜

All businesses have ‘holes in the bucket’ through which money falls, even in the best of times. The most obvious are wasteful costs. But the biggest holes are actually with ineffective Marketing.

Am obvious example is websites. Every visitor who arrives at your website who does not convert to a prospect or buyer is lost money. Fixing your website is fixing one of the big holes in your bucket.

Other examples are: not emailing customers at least twice per week, not following up with leads and prospects, not selling more to existing customers, not testing premium priced offerings, a Google Ads campaign that’s not being run properly, not having video, not having a ‘Mobile First’ strategy, not doing Remarketing on Facebook, Google and Youtube. I could go on. It’s a very long list.

All of the smart Entrepreneurs I know are using this time to fix the holes in their Marketing bucket. Let’s face it, you never get around to the Marketing because you never had enough time. You’ve probably now got some time. So please use it to obsess about making your Marketing brilliant.

Here’s some good news in all this chaos. The fact is, the money your business might lose in the next few weeks is nothing compared to the money you’ve probably lost over the last few years and would have lost over the next few years by not having great Marketing.

While none of us want the current situation, it’s no exaggeration to say that for some businesses, being forced to finally sort out their Marketing over the next few weeks will be one of the best things that ever happened to them.

๐Ÿฒ ๐—–๐—ผ๐—ป๐˜€๐—ถ๐—ฑ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ ๐—ฆ๐—ฐ๐—ฎ๐—น๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด ๐—จ๐—ฝ ๐—ฌ๐—ผ๐˜‚๐—ฟ ๐— ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—ธ๐—ฒ๐˜๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด ๐—ก๐—ผ๐˜„,

This is the opportunity, not for everyone, but certainly for around 60% of the business owners we’re working with.

If your customers can still buy, or if you can get leads and prospects who could buy in a few weeks – and you have access to cash, you should seriously consider scaling up your Marketing.

Cost per click on Facebook and Google is plummeting. Your competitors are disappearing. Sadly, many of those competitors will go out of business. We can hate coronavirus while simultaneously acknowledging that this is a major opportunity.

Anyone who knows about the world of investing knows that the time to buy is in a downturn. If you understand that Marketing is the process of investing to buy leads and customers, now is the time to buy, if you can.

So we have Ecommerce companies increasing their budgets over the last week by 50% or more. We have physical stores converting to Ecommerce sites in a few days. We have B2B companies changing their websites to lead generation pages.

Just because everyone around you is panicking, doesn’t mean that you have to. If you see even an ounce of opportunity in the weeks ahead, seize it.

๐Ÿณ ๐—ฃ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐—ฝ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ ๐—ณ๐—ผ๐—ฟ ๐—ง๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐— ๐—ผ๐—ฟ๐—ด๐—ฎ๐—ป ๐—™๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐—ฒ๐—บ๐—ฎ๐—ป ๐—บ๐—ผ๐—บ๐—ฒ๐—ป๐˜.

I’m sure you’ve seen those films, where the world comes close to ending, either from aliens, earthquakes or similar disasters.

At the end of those movies, there’s always a scene that shows the rubble, the sun rising on a new dawn, and in the middle of the rubble – the President, who for some reason always seems to be Morgan Freeman, giving a stirring speech about the dawning of a new world. Everything is finally going to be OK.

You should be preparing for our Morgan Freeman moment. We are all understandably fixated on the now. But some time travel into the future would not be a bad idea. When Morgan speaks, make sure that your business is in the finest possible position to rise with him.

Finally, for those of you who are having a really hard time, some words of wisdom from someone who knew a few things about dealing with adversity.

“๐‘๐‘’๐‘ฃ๐‘’๐‘Ÿย ๐‘”๐‘–๐‘ฃ๐‘’ย ๐‘–๐‘›.ย ๐‘๐‘’๐‘ฃ๐‘’๐‘Ÿย ๐‘”๐‘–๐‘ฃ๐‘’ย ๐‘–๐‘›.ย ๐‘๐‘’๐‘ฃ๐‘’๐‘Ÿ,ย ๐‘›๐‘’๐‘ฃ๐‘’๐‘Ÿ,ย ๐‘›๐‘’๐‘ฃ๐‘’๐‘Ÿ,ย ๐‘›๐‘’๐‘ฃ๐‘’๐‘Ÿ–๐‘–๐‘›ย ๐‘›๐‘œ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘–๐‘›๐‘”,ย ๐‘”๐‘Ÿ๐‘’๐‘Ž๐‘กย ๐‘œ๐‘Ÿย ๐‘ ๐‘š๐‘Ž๐‘™๐‘™,ย ๐‘™๐‘Ž๐‘Ÿ๐‘”๐‘’ย ๐‘œ๐‘Ÿย ๐‘๐‘’๐‘ก๐‘ก๐‘ฆ–๐‘›๐‘’๐‘ฃ๐‘’๐‘Ÿย ๐‘”๐‘–๐‘ฃ๐‘’ย ๐‘–๐‘›” … Winston Churchill.