How to ADAPT? Tips for SMEs & Startups during COVID 19

We all go through a scary, unique and uncertain time. All sectors including business, education, healthcare, politics, and even daily lives are being “disrupted” by the great catalyst, COVID 19.

Now more than ever we all realize the necessity for all of us, individuals, companies and institutions to ADAPT from environmental changes. Guess what, I have been spending the last 2 years researching this and writing a book on this topic so I guess I’m a good candidate to give advice.

Don’t be a “COVIDIOT”: Let’s get into it.

How to Get the Most out of your Mission and this Guide

Definition: Covidiot (adj). A person taking fate as it is and giving up on any activities when some bad news hit without trying to survive, adapt and protect its entourage.

Yes, this week, you are on a mission. A mission to save your business and make sure it thrives when this mess is over. But the fact is, this isn’t the only mess you’re going to face in business. Because things like this (well, not exactly like this unprecedented BS) come up daily as a business owner and we have a choice. Run and hide or get busy fixing it.

Sequoia Matrix for businesses to survive the next 6 months.

Now, I know you’re scrambling and 9/10 stressed right now; because you have a payroll to ensure the next 6 months. And there are a lot of ideas in this document and they might not all apply to you. It can feel overwhelming at first so take your time. Although I wrote this in less than 6 hours, I have spent the last 6 years of my life learning from business leaders and innovators developing these lessons. Some will be useful and others will not, and that is completely ok. This is designed to re-center you — and all of us — on what you can control instead of focusing on what we may feel we have lost control over. Have a good read!

What Needs To Change In Your Marketing:

Something I have been saying for years is that people don’t pay only for products, they pay for reliable access to communities. Now I believe it is slightly shifting to where people are now going to pay for certainty, safety, and security in their business and life. Obviously, we can’t predict the future but we can show up consistently as a teammate to all of our customers or potential customers to create a level of support so they understand we are in this with them more than ever. Remember the three needs of customers or potential customers online are that they feel seen, heard, & respected and now more than ever.

Do everything in your power to accomplish that for your tribe.

1. Establish Work From Home today & get a f****** insurance to your team. Announce that out on a Press Release, show to your team & your users that you care and are able to ADAPT faster than your competitors.

2. Respond to every single comment on any platform you are choosing to be on

3. Open up your DM’s and let people know it’s safe to reach out to you and ask for support

4. Lead by example, focus on creation instead of consumption to protect your soul and theirs from scarcity or fear

5. Be very open with your customers and give them options. The days of you can only do it this way will turn out badly for you. Be open and flexible with every customer.

6. Be impeccable with your word, when you say 7pm, mean 7pm. When you say 3 days, mean 3 days. We should always be that way and unfortunately, it isn’t always the norm in business. Over-deliver on everything and treat each customer like they are your family (that you love).

7. Focus on the things that you must do! Keep things simple. Being in a relationship with your customer is more important than the quality of a video or what a website looks like. Focus on the actual important things.

8. Document everything… Don’t project and make statements like you should do this or try this… Share your story and experience to lead by example and let them into the background of your business and life. If they are let into yours, they will let you into theirs and that is where growth will occur.

9. And to sound like a broken record again, and again. Communication and Community X 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000…

10. Acknowledge what’s going on. Don’t pretend like nothing is happening. That is brand suicide and completely tone-deaf. Now is the time to lead in the face of uncertainty and stand strong. You don’t have to have a side, opinion, or guidance, you just have to be speaking the language of your current audience which is acknowledging the state of the world.

11. Ads & funnels need to change immediately. I have been shouting from the rooftops for years that funnels aren’t needed when you go deep with your customers on the front end. Remove any objections or hoops that people have to jump through to have immediate relief or results in their life. Change all of your copy to be current and on point with the current state and go above and beyond to hold each customer’s hand through a journey. No webinars, no crazy funnels, no upsells, just direct, open, and honest conversations and conversions for what matters.

12. Adapt & meet the market where they are… Two things are probably going to happen for most businesses… The sales cycle is going to be a lot longer as people consume more content to feel safe enough to commit or it’s going to be drastically shorter where they want to get to work right away on implementing anything that will bring peace of mind. You have to prepare and adjust for both.

13. Congruency, Congruency, Congruency … Now is a more important time than ever that your brand identification & messaging are on point so people can trust you. You have to have uniform messaging, branding, and conversations across all platforms. It must remain consistent and simple so people can develop trust points with you and take action.

14. Lead with value… but also make your offers available. People are going to want to consume a lot of content right now to make informed safe decisions at the same time they are going to want to invest in things that will help them create certainty. Give value as much as possible while also including links or calls to action to allow them to take the next step or contact you. For example, I have covered a lot in this document and I have a lot more that we can do to help, if you need ANYTHING at all, please get ahold of us so we can help you navigate next steps.

15. Double down on your customer relationships, the delivery of your promises, and the value you create. People are only going to want to pay for things that they see as investments into themselves or their businesses to create certainty, security, and safety. Make sure that is you with how you are showing up.

Creative “Adaptive” Ideas For Startups & Small Businesses:

There is money to be made. People will still entertain themselves, work, buy food the next 12 months.

A lot of companies are taking advantage of this situation by providing immense value to people during this hard time. Why can’t your company too?

As we know, the current landscape is unpredictable and completely new to most people. All of us are having challenges in one way or another and I wanted to share some ideas that might be helpful for businesses as we all adapt to these new times. I will continue to add to this as new ideas come in, I see new options working in my businesses, or when you share with me other tools to help other businesses and entrepreneurs. The NUMBER ONE thing I recommend doing is to get on the phone or video calls with as many of your customers as possible. Ask them questions about how you can support, what they need, what they would want in the future, what’s missing in your business that you can add, what support can you create, etc. You will get some of the best feedback and ideas possible to help you deepen relationships and navigate the current times with your customers.

1. May Apply to any Business:

a. Email — Go deep on email with your customers… Email is going to be more pivotal than ever at this time for maintaining accountability, connection, and a direct line of communication with your customers. If you don’t email them, start. If you have a list and don’t use it, start. If you email them already, email them more. It is a great place to get them out of the cycle of crazy information on social media and pattern interrupt them into a new state of being. We are in a time when you have a blank permission slip to email your customers as much as you want when loaded with value, communication, and connection.

b. Start new forms or modalities of communications with your customers. Phone usage is going to 2–3x what it was before and the more channels you can communicate effectively, the better. Personally, I don’t want to try and compete with the fear-mongering on social media so we took this time to launch a text-based service as well as launching a podcast to add avenues to communicate more with our customers. You can use services like Textiful or Skipio for texting and podcasts are easier than ever to just record your thoughts on your phone and upload them to share. I’m exploring to do my upcoming recordings in a tool called Descript and hosting the podcast on Simplecast.

c. Host sponsored performances of musicians, artists, entertainment, cooking, cleaning, manicures, pedicures, or ANYTHING that people can normally see in person… Move it to remote!

d. Partner with other businesses whether digitally or locally and create bundles and packages together to support future sales. Collaborate instead of competing and share each other with each other’s audiences building a community. Design a solo self-love day when out of isolation… Get breakfast here, the coffee here, a massage here, activity here, and dinner here. If you and those 4 businesses collaborate everyone wins and you 10x your exposure.

e. Create themed bundles within your company or business for now or in the future when things clear out of isolation and solitude. Some customers will have the means to prepay for a year of services to help support you through current times while you support them so don’t be afraid to be completely transparent and open with everyone. It’s required now.

f. Study Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and utilize this to build, nurture, or maintain relationships with your customers remotely. Almost anything that was done in person can be done with your customers remotely. Host live coffee dates, book reading sessions, wine social hour, tastings, pairings, etc.

g. Host remote experiences that allow you to connect with your customers in other modalities besides your service, product, or business. For example, a local gym could be doing weekly meal prep live streams or daily cooking sessions on helping people maintain and thrive in the current state.

h. Host a remote dinner. Send out an email or message a few days before with the time and place. You can as a bonus include the recipe you are cooking and give people the option of showing up with a dinner already made or to cook alongside and you all have a virtual dinner table together with prompts and questions to connect with everyone. Special Dedicace for Rune.

i. Do daily auctions for now or in the future on services or products that you can give people exclusive access to by having them bid. You can even set a reserve and anything about that reserve goes to charity or supporting someone local in need.

j. If you have spent your whole business life in person, NOW IS THE TIME to launch an online presence. Find out where your customers are, go there, tell them and start building a relationship with touchpoints outside of just your business.

k. Document every aspect of your business, especially behind the scenes and allow your customers to be on that journey with you. You can show them what it’s like to prep food for the restaurant that day or clean the studio before a class or how you program and schedule workouts.

l. For businesses that provide home care needs like house cleaning, painting, etc you can start hosting daily classes teaching people how to do your job for themselves at home. Trust me, once they do it, they will realize they only want you to do it in the future and once you can you will be back in their home more often than before.

m. Presell gift cards or packages for future times to be redeemed.

n. Deliver coffee or products to your customers instead of them coming to you. Look at businesses like Instacart, Foodpanda, Upwork, Taskrabbit, and realize you can do all of that in your business with you and your team without paying the big guys. People are going to want to support small businesses during these times and you can add a new stream of revenue.

o. If you have a retail store, have customers facetime you as you walk around the store and get the products they want, check them out, and then bring it curbside to their car or deliver it to their house.

p. Use Shopify/Shopbase/Lazada/Shopee if you sell goods,and start selling your products online. Huge business this month gonna be to contact all the shopping mall shops and sell them a Shopify website!

q. Create activities that you can sell and people can do at home. You can make it fully on them or you can take materials from your store and business and charge them for all the premade materials to pick up or be dropped off to do during isolation.

r. Create communities or communication channels to allow people to stay connected during isolation with your business being the hub or host that facilitates connection.

2. Restaurants

This week, with the lockdown, restaurants will need to adapt or die.

a. Turn yourself into a content machine with every aspect of food and cooking. By hiring freelance digital content writer, graphic designers, video editors, and performance marketers: Share content, go live, and host classes teaching people how to cook from home, how to grow your own food using a tower garden, safe handling of food, etc.

b. Host remote dinners with your loyal clients, partners and community locally by creating premade meals that can be delivered or picked up of all ingredients as you teach people how to cook them at home while watching you online.

c. Create prepared meals for people to pick up or have delivered that covers their meals for the week or a few days.

d. Put together food boxes so instead of people having to go to the stores, you can create healthy options and boxes of fruits, veggies, meats, etc and allow them to pick up or deliver them.

e. Turn your businesses into a takeout or to-go option only.

f. Turn your businesses into a delivery service by utilizing your own employees and cutting out the 40% that goes to the big guys like Grab Food, FoodPanda, LINE Man, Damakhan, etc so people can support local businesses.

g. Allow people to buy meals or experiences in advance at a discount or full price if they want to.

h. Host nightly or daily virtual get-togethers or classes that allow people to bond over food and community while being isolated.

g. Send Free surprise meals via Foodpanda/LINEMAN to some of the old customers that haven’t ordered with you for a while to let them know that you care and now deliver online too!

3. Fitness Instructors, Gyms, and anything similar

a. Create a protocol for at-home workouts, movement, and mobility for your current customers and also all the new customers you will be able to reach that would have never been into your gym. Make programs, workouts, and protocols for kids, parents who have never worked out, elderly, etc so that you can serve.

b. Offer remote personal training over skype or zoom to take people through their workouts one on one or in a group setting just like they would do in person.

c. Become a mobile personal trainer and go see clients one on one to design protocols or workouts with what they have in their home or have access to.

d. Host neighborhood workout parties where you teach group classes from the road and people stay in their driveways watching to keep social distancing.

e. Support your customers on all the other modalities besides movement that will help them maintain their goals. Teach them cooking, meal prep, supplementation, recovery, cold therapy, meditation, breathwork, mindfulness, or anything that falls into the realm of health and fitness.

Breaking NEWS: Lockdown, Social distancing & quarantine is the new fashion for this Spring.

4. Stimulating The Economy Through Consumerism:

Now, running a business is only half of the equation. We also need to step up as consumers to do our part to keep our economy stimulated. Here are a few ways you can play your part from a consumer standpoint:

  1. Let It Go: Order from your favorite local restaurants and bars via delivery service, to-go, or curbside pickup.
  2. Buy In Advance: Purchase gift cards or book services from local businesses to use at a future date.
  3. Follow along: Your favorite local businesses are online and sharing specific ways you can support them.
  4. Shop small online: Websites haven’t closed and it’s important to leave positive reviews for local vendors and businesses.
  5. Stay looped in: Keep up with your memberships, and with services that are still offered online.
  6. Say Thank you: Many business owners and workers are risking their health to provide critical products and services. Be thankful.

What You Should Do Next…

Read the Adaptive Economy!

This is just a glimpse of some of the things you will learn to come up with by adjusting your mindset after reading my latest book: The Adaptive Economy. This book is dedicated to helping individuals and companies understand what are the upcoming environmental changes for the decade and how to creatively think to not only survive but also take these opportunities to lead new industries post COVID.

The eBook is now released, you can order it here

If you want to talk about how to ADAPT or you need me or my network direct help with some advice during those hard times:

  • Send me an email at [email protected]
  • Simply send me a message via my Whatsapp number +66982737509.
  • I’ll be hosting a podcast this week around that topic on Wednesday at 5 pm ICT here

Good luck everyone, stay safe: Strenght & honor!

Posted on Mar 23, 2020


About the Author: Djoann Fal

Author of The Adaptive Economy | Forbes 30U30 | Tatler | Jedi | Co-Founder, GetLinks (Alibaba, SEEK)

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