Learnings from Covid That We Can Use in the Current Economic ClimateOct 20, 2023
Here's a list of the actions that high-performing agencies took to get through the slump caused by COVID that you can use to navigate the choppy economic waters.
- Be decisive. Death by a thousand cuts pleases no-one.
- Do the sums. What if sales reduce by 20/40/60%?
- Run a rolling 8-week cash flow forecast
- Talk to the bank
- Look at your team. Make the decisions now, in the cold light of day:
- Who will you let go?
- Who will you keep?
- How can you make tough decisions yet bring the team together?
- How can you increase the involvement and commitment to the goal?
- Look at your clients:
- Who is vulnerable?
- Who is safe?
- Who is strong?
- Who should you keep?
- Who should you churn?
- To whom should we give celebrity service?
- To whom should we give a one-star service?
- Look at your services:
- Which are vulnerable?
- Which are safe?
- Which are strong?
- Which should you keep?
- Which should you scrap?
- Create recession- and inflation-focused services.
- Become an ‘80/20 Machine’. Do more of what works (the top 20%) and ditch what doesn’t (the bottom 20%).
- Look at your client engagement:
- Re-present yourself as the person to help them navigate the future.
- Do more listening.
- Start consulting and helping them make the tough decisions.
- Create opportunities for clients to share their anxiety and work with you.
- Target the clients that are slightly above your ‘pay grade’. They will be looking for more economical options and you may fit the bill.
- Do more marketing. Be more visible. Stand out and do not shy away from being seen and heard.
- Create collateral (white papers, articles, cheatsheets, how-tos) to demonstrate how relevant you are to your specific target clients’ needs.
- Revert to old-fashioned techniques: pick up the phone, go for a coffee.
- Look for non-competitive joint ventures.
The list can go on and on but there are core lessons from surviving COVID that need to be applied now:
- It is a long game, not a sprint, so look after yourself and your people.
- Lean into the uncertainty in every sense: be seen to be the agency that can help your clients, not just sell PPC or SEO.
- Make rational, logical decisions: don't mistake adrenaline and dopamine with the power of clear thinking taken in the cold light of day.
- Do not shy away from tough decisions.
In many senses, the COVID survivors just need to rinse and repeat what they did last time:
- Focus on the value you add to your clients
- Be brave
- Be clear
- Know your numbers
- Make the tough decisions
- Be bold and lean into the storm. Most do not have the bottle to do that.
Finally, I will quote Andy Grove:
"Bad companies are destroyed by crisis,
Good companies survive them,
Great companies are improved by them."