Is Your Business Corona Ready?

by Johanna
March 8, 2020

Is Your Business Corona Ready?

PREPARE, ANTICIPATE & SEIZE THE OPPORTUNITY.

Online shopping has surged recently, and it will likely continue to do so as more and more people choose self-isolation. Online retailers like Amazon are going to face operational and distribution challenges, but if conditions worsen, then this may be the way supplies and service are purchased.

So this begs the question; Is your business ready to face a transition that could see you temporarily transacting online, 100% of the time?

The next and the far more critical question is that if people don’t want to travel, or meet you face-to-face, to avoid the possibility of contracting the Corona Virus, then how are they going discover your products and services in the first place?

Most businesses have a weak digital presence that never gets found organically, and there’s no lead-flow strategy which secures next month’s revenues if people change their buying habits?

WHERE IS NEXT MONTHS REVENUE COMING FROM?

Although this article sounds pessimistic, no-one has a crystal ball, and the Coronavirus may not eventuate further than it already has. However, the panic and media attention around the Coronavirus has begun affecting many businesses.

Construction companies can’t source their supplies from China, manufacturing companies will experience the same issues once local supplies have depleted, the elderly are avoiding concentrated areas, and therefore those retailers who rely on their spending are struggling for revenue; the list goes on.

This article has been designed to create awareness, to be prepared for several months of having your employees working remotely, your traditional turnover to be diminished and to be shifting budgets into a tactical online marketing push.

Things may get tough and let’s hope that it’s all just exaggerated hype. However, seizing the opportunity to transition into an online-stronghold in your industry, certainly won’t hurt.

Here’s the full article.

Thinkroom’s recommendation is that you download our e-book so you have visuals to reinforce our message, in particular in reference to our marketing and advertising suggestions.

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GETTING YOUR BUSINESS CORONA READY

In this short e-book we’ll explore:

  • Transforming your offline business to an online powerhouse.
  • Capturing new revenue streams.
  • Restructuring so your employees can operate from home profitably.
  • What an economic slowdown might really look like.
  • What will happen if transportation stops. How industries will adapt.
  • Your backup plan framework.
  • This book is designed to help you pivot your operations into a business that can survive rapid change, without going completely overboard.

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CHAPTER 1.

ECONOMIC SLOWDOWN

Regardless of whether the Coronavirus compounds into a global lock-down, the hard-fact

is that panic has already set-in. Media attention and hype alone will drive an inevitable

economic slowdown, and the question is, how slow will it become?

We’re watching politicians reassure communities with live press-release updates, stating

that our countries are the safest places to be and that our medical institutions are the best

equipped than anywhere else globally.

This may be true, but economically, we are all going to face financial aftershocks that are

about to shake our revenues.

If you run a scenic bus tour business, there is a high chance that a good portion of your

customer base is the elderly. You will have realised several weeks ago (March 2020) that not

only has your tourism customer base diminished, but your elderly customers have stopped

visiting you also. Your customers are now cautious about leaving the safety of their homes,

knowing they’re the most vulnerable & susceptible to this outbreak. Your revenues are

suffering, and you are wondering where next months income will come from.

If you run a sizeable construction development, there’s a high chance that you’ll be facing

supply issues and your completion dates are likely to experience delays.

If you’re an investor within that development, you may encounter the developer becoming

insolvent due to the lengthy holding costs before completion and settlement.

Delays would mean that sales agents won’t be claiming commissions, while employees and

contractor requirements will also be of less demand. Then there’s the courier driver, who’s

been delivering fasteners to the construction site; He no longer has anything to deliver.

All-in-all, no matter where in the chain you are, there could be a time where you, your

employees, and your loved ones will need to consider that staying at home may be a wiser

decision than claiming the next paycheque. Streets of China are empty, which may become

our reality too.

For further research and supporting articles, view the links at the bottom of this e-book.

A pause in our economic flow, even if it’s only a few months, will change the business

landscape with an effect that may be greater than Coronavirus itself.

So this begs the question: How is your business going to survive a temporary economic

slowdown? A transition from an offline business to a dedicated 100% online offering,

because consumers become wary of visiting you in person?

We may not have all the answers in this book, but at the very least, we’ll have you creating a

backup plan that may just become critical in your business’s longevity.

In any case, the world must go on, and in every tragedy, there’s always opportunity. When

the earth shakes, and a city is brought to its knees, solicitors will be needed to manage

insurance disputes, there will be conveyancing requirements, commercial litigation, all of

which opportunist law-firms will be ready to capitalise on.

This means that if Corona-Economy hits hard, and businesses aren’t anticipating how the

next few months might unfold, many of your competitors may be caught in the crosshairs.

They’re unlikely to pivot fast enough to survive the rapidly evolving wave of consumer

behaviours. After all, who would want to leave their homes to buy supplies if there was a

medium to high chance of contracting the virus?

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CHAPTER 2.

REVIEWS & FAKE NEWS

We live in a world of Fake News & Reviews. In fact, we are all sheep following each other

around with very little thought as to “why?”.

We assume that if that product is good enough for this guy,

then it must be good enough for me too.

This is exactly how we purchase online. We see that 362 people have given that toaster a 4.5

star-rating and therefore, it must be a safe purchase.

#1

Google reviews are the first thing your business needs to focus on, and you’ll need a

strategy to entice your customers into giving you this valuable social currency. There’s

almost nothing more important than your reputation, as it will follow you around forever.

Let your Google Reviews be the most prevalent digital asset that you have, and

watch the search engines immediately improve your rankings.

#2

Secondly, both individuals and businesses leave digital footprints. Each online post, each

conversation, follow, like, or interaction equates to what they call breadcrumbs. Breadcrumbs

are a trail of clues, or data-points evidencing what you have been doing, what your interests

are, or how your business operates. A conscious breadcrumb strategy is valuable, setting you

up with digital assets that last you a lifetime.

You can also keep an eye on competitors by tracking their breadcrumbs and closely watching

who the CEO’s are connecting with.

If your breadcrumbs don’t paint the rosiest of pictures, then hiring a PR agency might be an

important part of your online strategy. For every negative article that’s been posted, you need

a dozen positive articles to compensate.

Now, this next bit is important – Don’t fake your reviews!

You can hire a PR agency to write wonderfully fabricated stories about you and your

business, but when it comes to reviews, Google will know if you hire someone to post 10,000

fake ratings.

Fake news stories are common – even politicians seem to get away with it ????- but don’t mess with Google, they’re smarter than you and they’ll penalise anyone who isn’t

being honest.

The plus-side of not faking your reviews is that a rating of 4.1 stars look more believable

than five stars anyway. You’ll look more trustworthy to consumers.

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CHAPTER 3

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

We’ve all heard that the key to securing real estate is location, location, location.

If you were going to establish a retail store, in most cases, you wouldn’t be leasing the

cheapest stand-alone shop available out in the burbs. You’d be positioning yourself in a

busy metropolitan environment, in the midst of the hustle and bustle in order to capture high

volumes of foot traffic.

However, for some strange reason, people regularly make this mistake with their websites.

They buy the cheapest hosting, meaning that their servers are positioned on the other side

of the world creating a slight delay for users. It might not seem significant, but users are

impatient and they demand convenience.

Speed is one of the ways Google measures your relevance and it’s not too dissimilar to

someone having to drive for 20 minutes out to your standalone store in the suburbs. It just

takes too long.

The busy metropolitans of consumers can be paralleled to the volumes of people spending

their time on social media platforms. Here you’ll find all the foot traffic you need, and in

fact, you can even choose which consumers to approach based on their interests. You don’t

have the full overheads of a shop, and your doors can be open 24 hours a day without the

worry of being infected by Coronavirus.

The tricky part is how best to approach consumers in amongst the jungle of other businesses

competing and screaming for their attention. Assume you do find the magic formula,

locking-in an attentive target audience, your next challenge will be how to take them on a

buying-journey that builds trust, creates a feeling of safety, and compels them to purchase

from you.

Lead generation is the most valuable service on the planet to most organisations, but if your

website isn’t converting, then there’s little point of driving volumes of traffic to it.

Here’s the conundrum: How will you find out if you’re converting, if you’re not driving any

traffic to measure?

Bite the bullet and drive traffic to your website using pay-per-click advertising (PPC),

knowing very well that you’re probably not going to convert as effectively as you could.

Consider your spend as research, you’re paying for data at this stage and having previously

connected Google Analytics to your website code, you can measure user behaviour.

The advertising world isn’t a simple one. So unfortunately, there isn’t a magic lead-gen

formula that applies to all businesses. However, here are a few tips that might help.

TOO CLOSE

You’re too close to the business – Don’t DIY. Your message needs to be simplified for the

mind of someone who doesn’t understand the intricacies of your products.

1, 2, 3, TOO MANY

A common marketing technique is to write headlines considering the “1, 2, 3, TOO

MANY” technique. Write your headlines in three words or less, where possible. Keep it

simple for our simple minds.

LESS IS MORE

The more you write, the less someone will read. Just create enough curiosity for someone to

want to learn more.

EMOJIS

Did you cringe at our overuse of emojis earlier in this E-book? ????So did we, but

the use of Emojis in social media posts are known to increase conversions dramatically.

Facebook ad headlines that included an emoji had 241% higher clickthrough rates than the

same ads with no emoji.

NUMBERS

Moz Blog found that headlines written with a number are 36% more likely to have people

click on your ads.

ODD NUMBERS

People trust headlines with odd numbers rather than even numbers.

INSTANT UNDERSTANDING

Aim for instant understanding. If your viewers can’t understand what you’re offering within

a split second, they’ll scroll straight past you.

The above is a guide, but as mentioned previously, you shouldn’t DIY your marketing

unless you’re a creative or sales genius. Instead, hire an agency that pitches you on lead-gen

as their first priority, rather than wanting to paint you pretty pictures.

If your agency wants to sell you radio or TV advertising, understand that although these

suggestions might have merit, the agencies get compensated exceptionally well for offering

these unmeasurable methods. Choose methods that can be measured, tested, calibrated, and

tested again.

Once you’ve created a lead-gen source that’s effective at a spend-per-lead that you’re

comfortable with, It’s time to draw your attention to your website. Review your Google

analytics and measure your call-to-action, such as your buttons.

Why is Amazon using that specific shade of orange for their buttons? Is it by chance?

Did a graphic designer just choose that shade because they thought it looked nice? Many

organisations spend a lot of time and marketing budget on research that proves the best

conversion rates and the colour of buttons make a significant difference.

If you’re thinking that you’re now going to choose Amazon-Orange for your business

buttons, then that’s not necessarily going to work. A button is only as good as its

environment.

An orange button has high contrast in most environments, but if your brand was orange in

the first place, your call-to-action might be lost. Your branding and environment will dictate

which colour works best for you. Do your research by making multiple landing pages users

to experience and then measure which is most successful.

Build an ecosystem that consumers trust. You’ll need to study trust-elements, you’ll need

to understand usability or at the very least, your business will need to hire a web designer

who’s emotionally intelligent.

Here are a few resources that you might find interesting to study.

https://www.crazyegg.com/blog/lead-generation-ideas/
https://blog.close.com/lead-generation

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CHAPTER 3.

NEW REVENUE

With all of this in mind, the way we do business is likely to shift, and there’s an opportunity

for those who can anticipate. As Wayne Gretsky’s famous quote goes,

“A good hockey player plays where the puck is.

A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.”

If you are clever, then perhaps you’ll be able to uncover new revenue streams for your

business. Re-open 2004’s Book, titled “Blue Ocean Strategy” which may help you discover

a market space that is undeveloped, and untapped by competitors.

You’ll learn:

• Not to spend your energy trying to outperform competitors.

• How to establish new markets eliminating your competitor’s relevance.

• Your new offering should add more value.

Blue Ocean Strategy suggests that you’ll have more business success by establishing a blue

ocean, rather than competing in the red ocean – traditional markets are flooded, margins are

small, and competitors are scrapping.

In this current Corona-Environment, you may be forced into discovering Blue Oceans, so

perhaps it’s worth a read. You can buy it here.

There are great case studies, of brands such as Cirque du Soleil, and Yellow Tail, that

reimagine new revenue streams and industries.

Here are a few resources that you might find interesting to study.

https://www.smartcompany.com.au/business-advice/strategy/the-case-for-change-atcasella-

putting-a-strategic-bounce-into-yellow-tail-wines/

https://www.blueoceanstrategy.com/what-is-blue-ocean-strategy/

BRAINSTORM

A great brainstorming exercise to help you discover Blue Oceans could be to lock your

senior management team away for a Thinkday to answer the following question:

• Which parts of your business aren’t fun, aren’t productive, and drive your staff to hate

their jobs? (For example chasing unpaid invoices)

• Which parts of your industry are not valued by customers, and can they be minimised or

eliminated?

• What do customers really want that the industry doesn’t currently provide?

• What can you do better than anyone else?

This exercise may help you remodel into a leaner, more profitable operation.

When brainstorming, break the task into three sections.

  1. Label the idea, not the “how?”
  2. Label the positives of the idea
  3. Label the potential negatives of the idea
  4. Label the “how?”

If done correctly, you’ll spend a significant amount of time on each idea, reaching strategic

depths that you won’t have the opportunity to discuss in day-to-day operations.

To hold a brainstorming session effectively, it’s best to be taken out of your usual working

environment, turn your phones off, laptops away and concentrate your complete focus

around a flip chart.

Spend the money and buy those big colourful markers to write down every idea, regardless

of whether it’s good, bad or ugly.

Once a page is full, stick the flip chart page to the wall, for everyone to see and refer to over

the coming days/sessions.

Take regular breaks, eat well and leave the beers until after 5pm !

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CHAPTER 4.

SYSTEMS

If the Coronavirus escalates and people are asked to stay home for public safety reasons,

your business will need to be ready for remote employee access to keep your operations

flowing.

After the 2011 Christchurch Earthquakes (New Zealand), CBD based businesses lost access

to their premises and had to communicate via private Facebook groups. First and foremost,

the businesses were looking out for the safety of their colleagues, but it then developed

into a communication forum for progressing the cleanup, the updates and reestablishing

operations.

With today’s software platforms available, you have many communication forums that you

can easily set up in advance. These options could be Slack, Microsoft Teams or Google

Hangouts.

It’s good to keep internal conversations away from emails in moments of elevated emotions,

but it’s also a good business practice to have these systems in place to reduce the feeling of

email-overwhelm.

With today’s technology, most businesses access emails through a browser and host their

documents on the cloud. This fail-safe luxury wasn’t practical in 2011 for many businesses,

meaning that when their internal servers became inaccessible, the businesses ceased to

operate.

If you haven’t transitioned to cloud-based storage, then perhaps the time is now.

Even if you have your emails and documents cloud-based, you may still lose your operational

workflow if it’s not an online software platform. If you’re operating your business with paper

job sheets, then you might want to investigate Trello, which is free to join, and an online

platform that allows you to create different stages/states to progress a job through.

You can invite users who can all see the status of jobs/tasks and they can comment, ping you

a notification, add photos and make checklists.

It’s powerful and simple.

The next and possibly the most critical challenge is distribution.

Getting supplies is going to require creativity in this scenario because assuming the items

you’re wanting are in stock, you may not have too many people that are brave enough to

operate a courier service.

What are the bare essentials that you need for your business to operate with if couriers stop

running for a month?

Make a list, and stock up with several months supply while you have the opportunity. After

all, we’re facing a toilet paper crisis as we speak. Ensure every employee has an emergency

stock at home in case cities are forced to quarantine.

Is transport likely to stop? At this stage, transport is experiencing shipping delays, which

creates operational and logistical challenges, but companies are still receiving goods from

various parts of China. The challenge is that orders are delayed, and instead of receiving

daily shipments, they’re receiving multiple shipments on a single day. It’s not ideal, but it’s

manageable.

Other good news for consumers and businesses outside of the oil industry is that there is

an oversupply of fuel, ensuring low prices at the pump. China’s demands have dropped a

sharp 20% over the past few weeks and considering the travel restrictions and the aviation

businesses are scaling back flights, we’ll see diesel and jet fuels at a temporarily reduced

price.

If transport does in fact stop, then it could be due to a travel-lockdown. It would be likely to

be temporary, but that means that packages won’t be delivered. You won’t be able to release

your products, you may have stock expire, and your operations may come to a grinding halt

because your essential cost of goods sold are diminished.

As mentioned in the previous chapter, it might be a clever idea to stock up now.

If you’re a printing company, then pre-purchase inks & papers to ensure you can continue

production. You may not be able to deliver the finished goods, but imagine how many

marketing professionals will be using their time wisely to prepare for their fast-start

marketing launch, once the economy kicks back into life. Imagine the opportunity if you

were the only company operating during these times and the market share you might gain.

Again, this may seem like over-the-top speculation, but as a worst-case scenario, you’ll use

the goods over the coming months.

If ground transport stops, then waste management is also going to be a significant issue,

both domestically and commercially. Stockpiling rubbish bags and thinking about where

you’ll store them, keeping them away from animals and unfavourable conditions will ensure

continued hygiene and a pleasant working environment. Rubbish mounts quickly if your

waste management isn’t controlled; it only takes a week of production before your business

overflows with chaos.

Transport is used as a good indicator of how an economy is performing. If there are a

lot of trucks on the road, the economy is thriving with activity. If you hear of half-empty

loads, and lay-offs are occurring, you know the economy is slowing. In this scenario,

road transport may remain consistent, supplying local demands, at least in the short

term. However, sea transport is experiencing shipping delays, and the aviation industry is

discounting furiously to minimise significant deficits.

If you operate the paper distributor that supplies the printing company, and you’re

anticipating that your employees will eventually be forced to remain at home, then consider

distributing paper to your clients on consignment, assuming they have the space to store it.

This simple change of tact might see revenues continue through a period which may

otherwise be very slow. The owners of the printing companies will probably work

through this period, capturing as much revenue as possible to try and compensate for their

overheads.

In the back of your mind as you’re reading this you’re thinking that all of these suggestions

have merit, but will they be enough? One thing to consider is that if an economic shutdown

does temporarily occur, there’s a high chance that the Banks aren’t likely to allow

entire nations to go broke.

Just recently, when the bushfires of Australia occurred, the banks offered the affected

home-owners a gesture of mortgage relief. They paused mortgages while the homeowners

got their insurance and finances under control because the long-term financial loss for the

banks wouldn’t make sense.

Therefore, if you’re worried about the lease that you’ve just signed, or you’ve just purchased

a building with significant overhead, you might find peace in the thought that if the Corona-

Economy rapidly escalates, it’s likely there will be financial relief.

Here are a few resources that you might find interesting to study.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/isabeltogoh/2020/03/09/global-markets-plunge-over-coronavirus-and-oil-price-war-fears/#165f45767887

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CHAPTER 6.

REMOTE EMPLOYEES

Businesses are already adapting for the welfare of their staff by restricting travel, restricting

large meetings and enforcing Skype discussions where possible.

Video conference calls may become the norm for many businesses over the coming months,

and perhaps this is a moment in time where video conference becomes more socially

acceptable as a way of reducing travel time and creating workplace efficiencies. Of course,

there will be a loss of intuition by not being in the same room as your counterpart, but the

pace of business has been accelerating for some time now.

Video conferencing also has the added advantage of being able to record the meetings,

including a visual of the shared screens. A tip for new players is that if you want to train a

new remote employee on how to use your software or navigate your systems, you can host

a meeting in Zoom with yourself, record the screen share and demonstrate by doing. You’ll

click save, and the video training will automatically download to your computer.

The idea of remote employees working from home might increase in popularity. In fact,

clever business owners might install new performance-based incentives to increase

productivity, specifically for remote workers, and find that their business functions more

profitably without the traditional overheads.

The challenge here is to keep a positive team environment, a united culture and to

ensure that remote employees are engaged. Emotionally intelligent leaders recognise the

importance of team bonding regardless of where people are located.

Great companies that run offshore teams involve their offshore staff in Christmas parties,

morning meetings, and they purposely install fun into their offshore team’s workday.

Perhaps local businesses will have to consider a similar leadership style to adapt to a new

remote-style environment.

Some of the control methods to ensure your remote employees aren’t taking advantage are

to use screen capturing software that monitors the user’s activity. It’s designed to randomly

take a quick snap of what your remote-employee is working on progressively throughout

the day. You’ll see if they are productive or not at a glance with the time-stamping feature.

Remote employees don’t always love this software, but it’s a common practice that many

companies use to off-shore labour effectively. Local employees might see it as a breach of

privacy if they are using their own personal computers, so be wary about introducing these

tools. If you’ve installed the right incentive system, you may not need these tools to police

productivity.

A good example of screen capturing software for remote employees is

https://screenshotmonitor.com/

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CHAPTER 7.

PLANNING

A framework for planning the next quarter could be an essential part of your business

journey. We are facing uncertain times, and by reading this short e-book, you’re obviously

committed to protecting your business and open to capturing new opportunities.

It’s quite possible that you’ll see many of your competitors take too long to react and be

caught without a plan. They’ll be trapped in what’s called “limbo”, and there’s nothing

worse.

“Limbo” is a state of uncertainty, a state of stress, and not being able to function clearly

with any purpose or direction.

Anyone who has experienced a natural disaster will have had first-hand experience in

feeling the uneasy vulnerability of what’s next.

This book has been written with one intent; That intent is to help you prepare, to have a

direction and to have a plan. The best plans are usually written on a single page because

anything more, tends to get buried in a draw for safekeeping.

A one-page plan can be pinned to the wall. It can be your guide to making the right

decisions over the coming few quarters.

Below is an example of how you might choose to write your one-page plan using the traffic

light system. Highlight each box in either the colour green, indicating that you’ve achieved

each goal, in yellow if you’re partially underway, or red if you’ve failed dismally.

Lastly, real leaders tackle challenges and view them as opportunities. It’s now your time to

prove your worth and protect those around you, both financially and emotionally.

If you took value from this article, please like & share this post to help other business owners. Over & Out,

Thinkroom.

Advice

Statistics

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/04/amazon-prime-now-suffers-delays-amid-coronavirus-outbreak.html
https://www.cnbc.com/2020/02/28/coronavirus-singapore-online-shopping-and-delivery.html
https://www.forbes.com/sites/dinahwisenberg/2020/03/08/small-businesses-face-coronavirus-hurdles/#18bc53c43592
https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/audio/2020/mar/09/will-the-coronavirus-trigger-a-recession
https://www.theatlantic.com/photo/2020/02/photos-empty-streets-china-amid-coronavirus-outbreak/606064/
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