11 Steps for How to Future-Proof Your Business During COVID-19
The COVID-19 Pandemic has had a massive impact on businesses, and for some work has slowed or stopped completely, adding even more stress and feelings of falling behind. Want to use this time to your advantage? Future-proof your business strategy and emerge from this crisis stronger than ever.
What should you focus on first? We've put together 11 steps to add some structure to your strategy:
Get closer to your customers
Firstly, get to know your customers deeply and find new ways you can deliver value. Offer to compensate your customers for their time, and virtually interview them about their experience with your product, services or business. Recreate the customer journey so you can develop a deeper understanding of their mindsets, attitudes, and behaviours at every point of interaction with your brand.
- Create online surveys to gather critical feedback about how you can provide more value
- Host online listening sessions with current and prospective customers or clients
- Ask your clients about their perspective on your competitors to find opportunities to out-compete: where are you the strongest, where are you the weakest?
- Update your brand SWOT analysis to reflect this feedback and review your competitive positioning
- Develop customer experience metrics i.e. NPS (net promoter score)
Need help? Let us do the work and book a customer journey workshop with us!
Get closer to your staff
In times of uncertainty, communication within your organization is more important than ever. If face-to-face communication is on pause it’s a great time to review your current practices and see if it’s time to add some new ones.
- Review your messaging and chat apps
- Set a cadence for video conferencing on Zoom, Slack or Google Hangouts
- Transition your project management to a collaborative online tool like Trello, Asana or Monday
- Transition your important company documents to a cloud drive
Make action plans for new customer acquisitions
Although this may not be the best time to market your product or service, it may be the ideal time to finally plan a more complex customer acquisition campaign to acquire your dream customers. First and foremost, approach any marketing you do during this time with empathy and carefully review your messaging before going live with any campaigns.
- Take a page from tech companies and hold a remote hackathon with your team to come up with creative ideas
- Give employees a chance to work together on ideas they have had on the back burner of how to improve business, expand markets or add new products
Focus on creating great content
A huge perk of working from home is the focus, it’s the ideal time to plan and write short and long-form content.
- Create content calendars, build up your content bank, plan seasonal campaigns
- Spring clean your marketing strategy
- Review and update your website
- Launch a marketing campaign for your business, create an online course or plan a virtual summit with your community or partners
Audit your social media strategy
Does your business have an overall social media strategy? If not, this might be the time to create one and set some foundational goals.
- Watch free online courses to familiarize yourself with newer platforms like Instagram and TikTok
- Audit your social media strategies and create a new analytics template for a monthly social media report
- Explore your social media marketing software (look into a planning tool, revisit your analytics software to make sure you’re maximizing it)
Spring clean your business systems
Now it’s time to look at your business operations and administration. Where are there opportunities to be efficient? If it’s been a while since you updated your business software subscriptions, make sure you are using the best possible tools for your business. Think about growth as you plan so that your decisions scale.
- Streamline your billing systems and review your payment processing (POS) software
- Review and explore your email campaign software
- Research and implement CRM systems
Catch-up on staff training
Check-in with your team to ask about their career growth goals. Also, ask them where they think their strengths and weaknesses are to identify weaknesses in systems knowledge and give staff time to do that online training.
- Ask your team to enroll in online courses that will bring immediate benefit to their role
- Share e-books, courses, and articles and have your team share their insights with each other
- Give staff time to attend an online conference
Review lessons learned from remote work
Many companies have gone fully remote for the first time. Use this period to experiment with remote work and ask your team how they feel about it and what could be improved.
- Create your own internal remote guide for your team including expectations around remote work (communication, regular check-ins)
- Document the tools your team is using for remote communication and analyze how useful they have been to curate your future tool list
- Write a list of the cost/benefits of remote work to consider implementing it more regularly
Build a Plan B
Hindsight is 20/20, so use this time of hyper-awareness to create the disaster plan that you wish you had before the COVID-19 Pandemic while it’s still top of mind.
- Create a disaster budget given your current needs and situation
- Create a list of contacts: supply chains, business insurance, online sales etc.
- Keep a file of your emergency communication with your top clients for future templates
Look for a values shift in your audience
Think about how COVID-19 has shifted the values of your audience, and consider whether these changes are temporary or permanent.
- Analyze changes in your customers' values and how that impacts your competitive positioning
- Ask your customers directly how their values and needs have changed due to COVID-19 in a private setting (like an online listening session, or a survey)
Audit your competitive landscape and brand performance
When you’re busy being dialed in to your own business it’s easy to lose sight of your competitor’s offering and what your own brand position is, relative to theirs. Who among the pack is shaping category dynamics? Take this time to hone in on their differentiators and how you measure up. Your brand position is inextricably linked to performance metrics such as sales and price, so critically evaluate whether you’re competing in the right space. Is there untapped market potential elsewhere?
- Take stock of who the players are in your competitive landscape
- Evaluate their customer experience across touchpoints and their product or service from various perspectives i.e. price point, features, quality, customer satisfaction
- Conduct a survey to collect data on consumer perceptions
- Plot your position based on findings
- Compile your insights and outline competitive opportunities and threats
Need help? Let us do the work and book a brand positioning workshop with us!
Have other ideas for how you'll future-proof your business? Drop them in the comments.