Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
It doesn’t matter whether or not you buy in to the media frenzy about COVID-19. Why? Because it will still impact your business. I don’t have to go into the depth about why that matters.
So, this article is not going to address the virus at all, other than to say that if you don’t want to get it, your best bet is to wash your hands (a revolutionary idea, I know). But here are some tactics that will help you stay ahead of a down economy.
1. Put an automated lead machine in place
If you don’t have automated lead processes in place, now is the time to get on that. If the economy goes down, you’re going to have to sell twice as much as you were previously and without automation, you’re running an uphill race. Automation helps clone you and your team. I use LeadBox to put my lead gen on autopilot and receive fresh new leads across all of my companies. All I have to do is close the sale. It’s easily 10x’d my companies.
2. Implement systems and rely less on people
Never manage people. Always manage systems. This is an E-Myth foundational principle and can help you manage your business better. And in turbulent times, people become even less reliable. We have dozens of different systems and processes we use across my various companies. One tool I love is Trello. It’s easy to create, has a great mobile UX and is simple to learn for anyone that hasn’t used it previously.
3. Put customer safeguards in place
If you’re able to put customers on contracts now, that could be beneficial. That’s a tough conversation to have though currently with so much uncertainty. Something I’ve started to implement across my companies is initiating conversations with our clients and customers about the coronavirus. We ask them simply if their budgets and marketing strategy have been affected by the pandemic. Creating an open line of communication can help you plan in case things do start to change and their budgets go away, which hopefully gives you a good enough lead time to make changes internally if need be. We’re also sending out surveys to our various customers and clients to get a better understanding of how how they’re dealing with the virus. For surveys, I love Survey Monkey. It’s the easiest most effective way to get surveys out quickly. Google Forms works well too.
4. Focus on perfecting copywriting
A lot more people are going to be online over the next few weeks, constantly checking updates about the virus and economy, but also because most companies are going to implement temporary work from home policies. Because of that, the copy on your website, marketing materials, ads, etc, is going to be an especially competitive advantage right now. With the world fighting for engagement, strong copywriting will be a competitive advantage to attract the audiences you want. Udemy has some really great copywriting courses to improve your skills, or you can outsource through sites like Toptal or Upwork to find freelancers.
6. Double down on markets that have served you well
I don’t think testing new markets in the current uncertain economic landscape is an effective use of your time and resources. Contrarily, we’ll be doubling down and going deeper into the markets that have been effective for us. If you don’t know the ‘who, what and why’ of your company and its products or services, I recommend you read a book called Sell More Faster, which helps you get really clear on your customer segments. One of my mentors and advisors, Max Borges, preaches this philosophy. His company Max Borges Agency, for the past 10 years, has consistently generated $30m+ with a very healthy margin and contributes it simply that they got crystal clear on who their customer was, drilled down that very specific niche and created a product that his customers love.
7. Focus on offerings that make your customers money or save them money (bottom-line products)
In these uncertain times, companies are less focused on products they don’t need. But, if your product or service either makes your customer money or saves them money, you become much less indisposable. Two example products that I will not stop using no matter what happens with the economy (because they make me money or save me money) are Adroll for retargeting (makes me money) and Charge Point reduced merchant services (saves me money).
8. Productize service-based businesses
Here’s why products matter. You only have so many hours in a day to sell and execute on services (even if you have a team, you’re limited to their hours and so on). Products will help you make money while you sleep. Plain and simple. In order to scale and grow, you need products. If you’re a service, figure out how to productize some of those services. To keep things simple, just start with one. Products come in all shapes and sizes, from digital SaaS products to courses, to e-books, to anything that can be purchased and paid for online. You want products.
But mostly, you want to wash your damn hands!