Businesses ultimately exist to provide solutions to a problem. Those problems remain the same during COVID-19, but the thing that needs to change is the way you sell that solution. The unique situation and the looming economic contraction means that businesses can’t just go on selling in the same way they’ve always done.
If you’re a catering company and no one’s having events anymore, you can still provide food, but package it in a different way. You can pivot your offer to creating lunch packs or dinner packs that you deliver to people’s houses because they’re sick of cooking on their own.
If you’re in the property investment space and you have been pitching all along about investing in property as a vehicle for long-term wealth, during COVID-19, you have to look at how low-interest rates and a bad crash can bring new potential buyers into the market.
It’s all about looking at where your market has shifted to, and making sure that you’re meeting your prospects exactly where they are.
Social eyeballs are growing as competition shrinks
If people have shifted anywhere, it’s to social media. Over the past couple of weeks, there has been a 40% decrease in CPM (the cost to reach 1,000 people on Facebook and Instagram).
It’s all down to two things:
- More eyeballs than these platforms have ever had ever in history; and
- Advertisers being fearful and pulling their ads off the platform.
Both of those factors are opening up a whole bunch of inventory that has not previously been available.
In the past, the large majority of ad spend on these platforms has typically been bigger e-commerce businesses that can scale very aggressively. But over the last two weeks, a lot of international businesses have suffered or been limited in their operations — for example, they may have lost their ability to ship from China — and they’ve therefore stopped running ads in certain markets.
This has opened up a huge piece of land for people to jump in on Facebook and Google, that’s why we’re seeing a decrease in CPM. It’s economics 101: the supply has gone up, the demand has gone down.
If you’re a local retailer with domestic warehouses and you can still ship out products, you’re in a great position, because more than 50% to 60% of the competition has vanished. While the international competitors’ ads are off, it’s time to push. You can get cheaper inventory, cheaper cost to acquire a customer, you can build your database more aggressively, and come out of this in a stronger position.
On top of all this, people that were typically time-poor have suddenly become time rich. This is actually a very unique time: the cost of traffic has gone down and everyone is at home. They have more attention than ever to essentially do whatever it is that you’re asking them to do.
Educate the market and build your database at the same time
Now is also a great time to start building your email database using high-value content offers such as a free report, white paper, webinar or a video series that offers your market the education they need around a problem they’re experiencing.
However, remember that confidence levels are very low in the current climate. Your ‘value-add’ should require a very low commitment, and not go straight for a sale. Everyone can smell a webinar or white paper disguised as a sales pitch, and now is not the time (in fact, it’s never the right time).
Building a connection with potential customers is difficult right now because there’s a lot of uncertainty. Ignoring that fact is like ignoring the current of a raging river that you’re swimming against.
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Instead, you need to provide more value to that market than you ever have had to previously, because you need to increase their confidence levels. The way that you do that is through education, through thought leadership, webinars and papers.
The emphasis now needs to be on building prospects and engineering a sales funnel that’s not focused on immediate conversion. People may not be buying right now but they are certainly researching, and when the crisis blows over, they certainly will be buying.
When this thing finally blows over, there’s going to be a bounce back from all this pent up demand. If you’re out there and you’re educating people, consistently being a helpful expert, building out your database, then you’ll be in a prime position to capitalise when the market returns to normal. It’s all about having more of a long term perspective.
My advice is to get on the offensive and use this opportunity to advance your company. Invest in yourself, invest in your business, and most of all, advance when others are retreating.