Few weeks before The World Health Organisation (WHO) declared Covid-19 a pandemic, an article in British daily 'The Guardian' predicted that the global economy will endure loss worth over one trillion dollars if the coronavirus outbreak turns into a pandemic.
Soon after the virus went global, the whole world changed. Millions of businesses are fighting against extinction and the economy is plummeting every day.
The overall economy in Bangladesh also looks very grim. From local startups, multi-national companies, garments, education, tech, agriculture, health, food, entertainment to media and manufacturing - almost all sectors are in a dire situation.
To survive the economic havoc caused by the pandemic, all the businesses – from rising startups to billion-dollar conglomerates – are applying five strategies.
Discount and free offer
This may sound counterintuitive to some but it's so obvious!
Zoom is one of the companies that earned a name in every household since the social distancing has been enforced. Interestingly, Zoom was originally designed for professional use. During this critical hour, they extended their service for everyone.
Their user base has surged from 10 million to 200 million in just a few weeks. And the same is happening for other similar services like Microsoft Team, Google Hangout etc.
Another industry that is ripping the full benefit from offering discounts and free offers is e-learning.
Digital Marketer, one of the best online marketing strategies learning platforms in the world, offered their entire premium courses free for several weeks, resulting in an overwhelming number of signups.
Even though they cannot gain immediate profit from these offers, these will definitely generate thousands of new leads and customers who will get back to purchase from these companies in the coming days.
Entrepreneur.com, in their recent survey, found that 30 percent is the magic number which attracts customers most. And in recent times, our local companies like Chaldal and other fashion based e-commerce companies generated satisfactory responses by offering free delivery and discounts even in this crisis moment.
So, every business needs to find out which part of the product or services can be offered as free or at a discounted price.
Firstly, this will help companies to instantly generate some most coveted cash and give some breathing space.
Secondly, this will help acquire new customers whom they can retarget for profit in the coming days.
Every business has some strength and some weakness. Normally a business is very strong in its core competence area and weak in others. This is the perfect time to collaborate with other companies that complement the weakness and help to build a new product, service or offering for the customers.
For example, a struggling marketing agency now can collaborate with an e-learning platform to create online courses using the expertise of its employees.
For the first time in the history of Grameenphone, one of the leading mobile operators in Bangladesh, has collaborated Brac, an NGO, to launch a campaign titled 'Dakchey Amar Desh'.
Similarly, online marketplace Sheba has partnered with The Daily Star and Samakal newspapers with their 'Mission Save Bangladesh' project.
Business giants are investing in other giant companies for more profit. Recently, Facebook invested $5.7 billion in India's internet giant Jio, Microsoft partnered with WHO, and e-Marketer and Business Insider joined forces.
So it's time to identify with whom the business can create a partnership at this moment to generate revenue or perform humanitarian work.
Customer retention with MarTech and digital marketing
According to Forbes, the acquisition cost of getting a new customer can be five times more than retaining an existing one.
One of the big three consultancy firms in the world, Bain & Company, found in a research that if customer retention is increased by five percent, profit can increase from 25 percent to 95 percent.
Since the lockdown started, customer behaviour has changed as well as the purchasing capacity. Moreover, people would prefer to buy from trusted companies with whom they have had good experiences in the past.
So, the best shot with a limited marketing budget is to Laser Focus Target the existing, regular and loyal customers.
In this time of crisis, to get maximum output, businesses need to tend more towards digital marketing and marketing technologies. Instead of spending on customer acquisition, they need to identify their most profitable, loyal and regular customers and design attractive offers for them.
Pivot your business
One of the industries gravely affected by the pandemic is Ride Sharing services. Our local startup Pathao rejuvenated their service 'Pathao Tong' and partnered with supershop 'Shwapno' to deliver grocery items when their ride-sharing got completely shut down.
Though it won't be prudent for all companies to start designing a grocery delivery business model, rather the pivot must happen according to the company's strength and competitive advantage.
It needs to be innovative, identify a major, specific and unique problem of the corona and post-corona world and try to solve that.
For example, Uber introduced a new feature 'Work Hub' for their drivers in the USA, using which the drivers can provide different services to the Uber Eats, Uber Works etc.
Eric Ries, in his acclaimed book 'Lean Startup', mentioned 10 different types of pivots that businesses can try now.
In the next two years, there's a great possibility that several Unicorn Startups will rise solving problems related to the corona crisis. And then they would lead the next twenty years with that breakthrough product or service that we haven't thought before.
E-commerce giant Amazon was born at the beginning of the twenty-first century during the infamous dot-com bubble. And similarly, during the last 2008 recession, companies like Uber, Instagram, Dropbox, Whatsapp, Slack, Airbnb were born finding a blue ocean and bringing innovation in the world.
Become a story brand
At the end of World War-2, while everyone was getting ready to embrace a big economic recession, the automobile companies in the USA started increasing their advertising effort.
Similarly, the real estate companies made their customers dream for a new home. And surprisingly, the economy bounced back and started escalating when the war was over.
And guess which companies became most successful in the post World War-2 era?
Right… those who lit the light of hope and dream among people, and thus stayed on top of mind to their customers.
Mckinsey, another one from the big three consultancy firms, suggested brands to focus on customer engagement, enhancing customer experience and creating a meaningful relationship with them. And in the time of social distancing, the businesses must fully utilise digital marketing and market technology to reach their customers.
We need to remember that if a company takes good care of their customers and employees right now, providing appropriate content and value, they will result in a thousand-time return in the near future.
You're Just One IDEA Away!
The author is a software engineer and Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) candidate.