When we had our first wave of lockdown early on in the year, it became obvious that business would not be the same for the next few months. As the months rolled on, it seemed that business for most companies would possibly never be the same.
Apart from the industries that have been deeply affected and the many businesses that have sadly had to close, there are some good things to come out of this.
For those who are able to plan their way out I believe there will be rewards in the years to come.
We’ve had time to think, reflect, dream and plan, and we need to take advantage of that to help navigate us towards our best future.
As I’ve always said, your business should be an enabler of a better life, rather than your business enslave you. When you have your own business, whether it’s just you or a team of many, it needs to make you fulfilled and happy, not stressed and struggling.
So here are 5 questions to think about as part of your planning preparation for the next year:
- Who are now your ideal clients – has the profile changed?
This of course is a standard component of any planning process but now we need to reassess if this has changed. Are any of your clients struggling as a result of the last 9 months? Will they view your product or service now as discretionary, or essential or no longer relevant?
Unfortunately as part of this more than in other years, you need to start planning for any clients you might lose and the sales revenue you need to replace as a result.
- Do you need to repackage your service or product offerings?
For example, it will be much harder to sell a generic offering than a specific one designed specifically for your ideal client targets.
Your offer needs to be: Easy to Sell; Easy to Buy; Easy to Use
You also need to structure it in a way to help your clients and customers self-select.
I refer to this often because it’s a good model: look at how software packages are sold in Basic, Standard, Professional type of tiers with associated features for each level.
Is it time to provide an entry-level offering with a low barrier to buy to help get new clients onboard?
- Can you change the structure and overheads of your business?
People costs are a hefty part of most business expenses. People are now used to working from home, working less hours if they have been on Job Keeper, and some have embraced that fully and would like it to continue when businesses go back to working from a physical location full-time. Can you restructure their hours and remuneration accordingly to help your own business ramp back up again?
Do you need the same size office to work from?
For example, Schroders is a London-based firm with 2,500 staff. The CEO announced that those staff do not have to go back to working from an office 5 days a week once the COVID crisis is over. The bulk of their work will be done from home with the remainder seeing groups convene on a more ad hoc basis to work together as needed.
The CEO said that because of the pandemic forcing people to work from home, that it had pushed workplace flexibility forward 20 years.
Worth thinking about!
- How are you going to engage with your clients and customers?
Apart from structured meetings and calls with clients and possibly some other ad hoc communication, how do you plan on getting closer to them in a business world that is likely to have less personal contact with more people working remotely?
It’s worth brainstorming all the ways in which you could connect, and include some of the more old-fashioned methods like personal hand-written cards. Personal communication is key.
We need to remember that the people who ‘follow’ you, or who are in-person clients of your company, or who subscribe to any of your communication, they are real people who have chosen to work with you/have a relationship with you.
If you call a client, just to see how they are going (as the sole purpose of the call), that will be remembered and valued.
We need to respect that and give it even more attention in 2021.
- Marketing is even more critical than ever before. Do you have a plan?
Communication with clients and prospects, knowing exactly who your ideal clients are, revisiting and possibly repackaging your products and services in a changed market, and thinking about potential new delivery channels, are all a vital part of your marketing strategy.
For most businesses, many aspects of how we used to do business have changed.
I believe the result will be to make us better at doing what we do, and thinking about that in a more creative way.
Apart from managing costs and restructuring opportunities and other critical commercial considerations, marketing as a function is so critical to the success, growth and ongoing viability of any business.
Break down your plan to look at:
- Target market and ideal client profile
- Products and services – packaging, pricing, delivery (easy to buy, easy to sell, easy to use)
- Communication – messages, methods, existing clients and prospective clients
- Above all, make it personal
Good luck with your strategy for 2021.