Pam Aungst was recently a guest on WPblab discussing “Marketing Your Services in an Economic Decline” (video above). Here are some of the highlights of the conversation:
The first two things that Pam shared was what she’s done so far during this crisis:
1. Be empathetic
So far, my main strategy is just to be as empathetic as possible. I’ve had clients request cancelation of services that are technically under contract and require at least 30 days notice, but I did not enforce that clause. These are unprecedented circumstances, and they’re saying they will be back, so I’m choosing to take the empathetic route and allow clients to cancel or pause immediately.
Right now, first and foremost, it is more important than ever to be empathetic.
2. Get ahead of it
I’m starting to reach out to clients and tell them that thinking about them, that I hope their business isn’t impacted too much by this situation, but if it is, I’m offering them the opportunity to discuss temporarily reducing their retainer. This way perhaps they will stay on in some capacity instead of canceling altogether.
Pam also shared some other tips from her experience running an e-commerce business during the last recession:
Recession = DIY.
In an economic downturn, people are going to want to do things themselves instead of paying others to do them. Instead of resisting that, think about how you can help your clients do things themselves. Even if it’s only a few hours of consulting per month, at least you’re still maintaining the relationship and getting a bit of revenue from it, versus having them cancel altogether.
Alternatively, if you haven’t already, start creating and selling courses, classes, or guides that teach how to do what you do for your clients.
Market the same things to a different audience.
Start offering new things (products or services) that you typically don’t offer, but could do a good job at providing. For example, I don’t typically offer website repair services, but right now, that’s what my clients need, and I do know how to do it well, so I’m now offering it as a service.
If your clients don’t need or can’t afford your typical services right now, ask them what they do need done at the moment. If it’s something that you can do or can learn how to do, offer to do it for them. Certainly don’t try to be all things to all people, as that results in low quality execution, but do get creative and offer to do for your clients what you can do well that you don’t typically offer. Perhaps even start advertising those services to new clients as well.
Throw out all (or at least some) of your normal restrictions. These aren’t normal circumstances, so normal business wisdom doesn’t apply. For example, under normal circumstances, I do NOT negotiate. Being strict about that has greatly contributed to my success thus far. But now I am willing negotiate, for the time being, in order to survive. Letting go of your typical restrictions doesn’t need to last forever, but doing it just for now could be the thing that helps your business survive this.
Keep an open mind, and get creative.
Overall, I truly believe that in order to survive this, business owners need to keep an open mind and get creative. I refuse to have an exact plan for how I’m going to weather this storm. I intend to have a general strategy, but not a detailed plan. I will need to be flexible, adjusting to the changing circumstances along the way.
So, in short: Keep an open mind, get creative, and loosen up. It may feel counterintuitive to sort of “wing it” during such a severe economic crisis, but history has shown us that, in business, adaptability equates to survivability.