Our world is buzzing with ever changing news about coronavirus. With updates by the hour, businesses are looking for ways to thrive and even prosper despite suspicions of a global pandemic. According to a survey from Veem, 27% of businesses expect the coronavirus to have a moderate to high impact on their revenue. Another 30% expect the virus to have a moderate to high impact on their supply chain. They’re increasing pricing, changing suppliers, decreasing operational costs and protecting cash flow. We’ve all been washing our hands incessantly, fist bumping colleagues, sneezing into our elbows and disinfecting our surfaces. But what else can we do to prep our  businesses for success?

Preparation Mitigates Fear

While factories in China had already been closed by the outbreak and are now just ramping back up, global white-collar companies have rarely grappled with this scale of disruption, or the level of fear that has gripped workers. Large companies and retailers like Apple and Nike have made headlines during the coronavirus outbreak, as investors anxiously await news on whether the virus will impact the companies’ abilities to make sales. Small business owners are struggling, too.  A bill was introduced this week to help small business owners across the country suffering economic damage due to the coronavirus. The bill, called “Small Business Relief from Communicable Disease Induced Economic Hardship Act,” would allow owners to access Economic Injury Disaster Loans of up to $2 million to cover business expenses. To support your team’s physical health and financial welfare, execute paid remote working at the first sign of a cough or exposure and create contingency plans that get the business done while helping to contain the virus. Your team wants to know that the company will be fiscally secure even with possible global economic downturns. Communicate regularly with your team and clients to build their confidence. 

E-Commerce Your Biz Back to Health

Koi-Fly’s Director of Content, Leslie Schmidt’s mantra is “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” In addition to a plan for combatting possible challenges, it’s imperative to assure your employees that while their personal health and safety is the priority, focusing on the financial health of your business is imperative in these unprecedented times.

  “We’ve never been through this type of GDP slowdown or crisis environment in this type of e-commerce market, with so much direct-to-consumer and so much focus on ordering and shipping”  says Bruce Biegel of Winterberry. “What happens if, all of a sudden, your commercial audience is going to be at home more? It doesn’t mean they don’t want to buy those things … they’re going to turn online. We could see an acceleration of a shift out of store and into e-commerce.”

Marketers should understand that more people will shop online and may be active during the daytime when office workers don’t typically browse, so companies should invest in online as part of their push for omnichannel distribution.

Support Clients – Don’t Gouge

Since coronavirus is at the forefront of worldwide media coverage (move over presidential candidates), there has been a unique growth opportunity for some industries. While COV 19 is negatively impacting the travel and hospitality industries, it’s helping cleaning products and household consumer brands see an uptick in sales. Crisis should never be seen as an opportunity to profit, but rather a time to help.  Show your customers how you can help, whether you’re selling Clorox or providing emergency tips and hacks.  Being helpful will benefit your business and boost your reputation. Be open and honest about realistic delivery times. If there’s a delay, tell them why and what you’re doing to fix it. Encourage them to reach out with  questions or concerns. Develop trust that your brand continues to serve with integrity. As the coronavirus spreads and people rush to protect themselves and their families from getting sick, the U.S. is seeing heavy demand for everything from masks to hand sanitizer. Would you pay $149 for a two-pack of 12-ounce bottles of Purell? How about a single container of Clorox wipes for $29.99, plus $15.00 shipping?  

Third-party sellers who stock the vast virtual shelves of Amazon.com, Walmart and eBay seem to be testing what the market will bear. And social media has been flooded with complaints. Even California Gov. Gavin Newsom joined the chorus Tuesday of “Seriously, @amazon? These prices are absurd.”

Company Ad Spends Will Reallocate

Businesses feeling a pinch to profit margins might freeze variables like marketing budgets as a reactive strategy but that doesn’t mean those dollars are gone forever. There’s also a lot of fake news to be aware of. Listen to the experts and beware of ads directly profiting from widespread public fears, like this one below. 

Facebook recently announced a ban on Coronavirus related ads that “create a sense of urgency for commercial gain.” There are no scientific facts related to ads like these. They only  increase unnecessary panic during an already stressful time. 

Can’t Get There in Person? Send Help.

Think about the product or service you’re selling. How will you reach customers if most are staying home and avoiding public places? Continue to push out as much content as possible. Even if your customer is waiting out quarantine, they’re still bound to be online.  To engage clients, use live video, slickly edited video content or video chat apps as messaging vehicles when travel for your business is shut down. Get ahead and  film or photograph now and add it to a hard drive for future use. Video or photography editing can be done remotely and changes can be made remotely, too. Adapt your visuals regularly, creating longer form videos for company communications or short snackable content for social media to boost morale. Look for stock footage sites with  nonproprietary content and mix it with cool graphics and text to get your point across. Now is the time for finding alternate ways to communicate, even when everyone’s working from home. Additionally, try brainstorming and producing campaigns with helpful messages that feel organic to your brand. Beauty company Perfect Diary has been broadcasting safety recommendations and intimate wear company Neiwai has been  reminding people to stay healthy and strong on WeChat.

“I Call a Window Seat!”

Coronavirus has already disrupted travel for thousands of people. If you find yourself on a plane, the window seat is the safest and most germ free. Stay hydrated and keep your area clean. If you can’t find hand wipes or sanitizer, look to baby brands like Babyganics for sterile wipes. They should do the trick.  When it comes to the coronavirus, companies should understand the critical need to focus the business on a single vision and on shared goals for the future. Though the COVID-19 will eventually pass, it may take some time before the world economy gets back to normal. So for now we need to look at this as the new normal, adopt our business plans, stay focused and keep talking. For more advice on how to keep your business focused, visit McKinnsey’s COVID 19: IMPLICATIONS FOR BUSINESS.

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