“Back to normal life” is something that’s on everyone’s mind, but recently someone asked me “will it be easier or harder to grow your small business when we get back to 2019 level operations?”
Obviously, it isn’t happening for a while yet. COVID wasn’t just a “blip” on the radar of the world, and it has opened and closed many industries for many people. In short, it was life-changing and we won’t just go back to normal life immediately.
But in the long term, my thoughts are these:
Growing a business in a Post-COVID world is going to be harder!
Reason #1: Marketing
If you think back to March 2020 when everything was shutting down, what was the one thing everyone was talking about? COVID! The media, social platforms, even newspapers were honed in on one single thing and non-COVID messages (Such as those put out by small business owners) had an insanely hard time breaking through the sea of COVID-chanting voices.
Simultaneously, it was easier to get a message out. Everyone was talking about COVID, so anything even minutely relating to COVID became a trending issue. Tagging your post as a #COVIDUpdate practically guaranteed you’d get more traction and draw more attention. And when you made something about your business kinda sorta related to COVID, it stood out because it was different from what everyone else was saying.
Think about that for a minute: COVID actually made it easier to show people you were there.
Reason #2: Crappy Buyers
If there’s one thing that, weirdly enough, happened with COVID, is that buyers became nicer. They became easier to work with, and were willing to spend more on a sure product for two reasons:
1 - Government Economic Stimulus
2 - Economic Downturn Syndrome (I. E., people are willing to pay more for a sure product in an economic downturn, because it negates the chance they’ll need to go out and make the same purchase twice)
How does that work? Think about it this way. The people who are actually spending money with small businesses right now, are the people who are more secure and financially smart. They know that they can either pay well for something to be right the first time, or they can pay multiple times (and end up paying more in the end) to get something redone and redone and redone. They don’t argue price points, and they’re pleasant to work with. These people aren’t crappy buyers! The people buying right now are the people that small business owners want to work with.
Crappy buyers are rare right now. Are they still around? Sure. But they aren’t out in force, and they will return when the world goes back to normal and they have money to spend, count on it!
Reason #3: Crowded Marketplaces
Right now, the marketplace isn’t crowded.
Businesses have closed down and no one is trying to start a new business in the middle of an economic downturn. Even the people who are starting their businesses or have survived the COVID Decimation of Small Businesses aren’t investing in things like Marketing Messages, because there’s so much money flowing from the government right now that people are comfortable in the discomfort: they know they’ll be OK for the next couple months and they don’t know what’s coming down the road, so they aren’t being proactive about growing their businesses.
Ultimately, most everyone is either out of the market or playing the waiting game.
What this means for Small Business Owners...
What does this mean? Getting a marketing message out there to let people know you’re around isn’t difficult. In a less crowded marketplace, there are less voices vying for people’s attention so it’s easier to stand out from the crowd.
Additionally, it’s easier to do what’s called “News Jacking” where you look at the news and relate your content for the day to whatever is going on the news to get traction and attention for your business.
When Things Open Up Again...
There will be obvious opportunities. But everyone will be trying to take advantage of those opportunities.
You’ll be facing a more crowded and difficult marketplace than you are now, because you won’t just be working through the sales process and helping people discover your service as something that can improve their lives. You’ll be facing a sea of voices, where your marketing message decides if you get chosen or not.
So how do you avoid the marketplace fight that’s coming?
Instead of waiting for everyone to be going back into purchasing products/services, start building your sales and marketing out now. Begin reaching out so that you can attract those good buyers who are spending money right now. Treat them well right now, and you’ll discover that they’ll stick with you when the marketplace gets more crowded. At that point, you won’t have to rely on the money-grabbing cheap buyers who don’t appreciate your service like it deserves and you’ll be able to say “no, maybe you should work with someone else.”
The sooner you get back into the market, the sooner you can take advantage of the opportunity for better clients right now. And the better you’ll be prepared for the rough marketplace that’s coming down the road.
About the Author:
Stephanie Scheller is a TED speaker, a two-time best-selling author and the founder of Grow Disrupt. In just under a decade, Stephanie has been behind the scenes with nearly 2500 small businesses. She has worked in groups and one-on-one to create total business transformation & help business owners live the life they got into business to create!