Silver Lining

Building Your Brand in Tough Times

In extraordinary times like these, pushing for new business might feel awkward. Work to build your brand instead. Here are a few ideas.

Show love to your current customers

Give your loyal customers something that is useful to them, right now. Can you proactively flex your payment terms and give them some time and much-needed cash? Perhaps you can provide a free service or offer counsel or time in some way. Show them how much their loyalty and business means to you. They will remember that.

Some software companies have proactively given new and existing customers a price break. Zoho has created a Small Business Emergency Subscription Assistance Program that provides up to 20,000 of their small business customers free access to their existing applications for up to 3 months. “We are here to help” has become a common message on many websites. Banks are rushing to provide loan deferrals. Our own company has chosen to continue serving customers who need to cut their marketing expenses, as long as we can.

Be proactive with something special – but affordable.

Be ready to pivot if you learn of something your clients need and you could innovate to deliver

The best example comes from the COVID-19 crisis, when several producers of distilled beverages (liquor companies) began producing hand sanitizer. ExxonMobil followed suit. If your business provides soft services, and you plan to keep staff on board, use their idle time to provide free or low-cost consulting work in new areas. Not only does this increase your exposure into new territory, it expands your house knowledge base and can provide new skills for your staff.

Donate your expertise, products or just your time to help

This one is pretty obvious, but when we all pitch in, we all benefit. JOANN Stores is currently providing free instruction to sewers and crafters who want to make supplies to front-line healthcare workers. They are also providing and donating 100% of the supplies needed for these projects if the person comes into a local store to make it.

You don’t have to be a big corporation to make a big difference. Choose your corner of the world. Your service can be as simple as setting up and training the local Al-Anon chapter on using Zoom so they can continue to hold meetings. Or volunteering to help a locally-owned restaurant improve their marketing / web presence. Perhaps you are an IT consultant and can contribute some basic IT services to a nursing home that is struggling to keep up with the crisis.

Don’t exhibit panic. Keep a sense of humor and make gratitude visible.

We should all be thankful for customers who plan to stick with us through a downturn. Make sure they know you are grateful. If your business is suffering, don’t dwell on that. If your business is thriving make sure your clients know, so they feel confident that you will still be there for them when the crisis is over.

Be loyal to your employees, give them visibility and gratitude.

A downturn is the perfect time to show what kind of character your organization has. Make sure everyone in your organization understands the state of the business and can plan accordingly. Ask them how they are doing financially. Get a sense of the mood around the office and work to improve it as needed. If you can’t afford bonuses or raises, try giving them time off or other perks.

Be an example to your organization of healthy mental behavior. We can’t deceive people into thinking everything is “OK” if it is not, but a healthy attitude of “this too shall pass” while rolling up our sleeves can often trigger success in other areas of life. Things look better when we turn worry into action.

Downturns, crises and tragedies are all an unfortunate fact of life. How your organization responds to them shows your character and can have a huge positive impact on your brand.