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My Strategy For Surviving Coronavirus
By Denise O’Leary of Purpol Marketing Ltd which supports organisations with business strategy, bid management and marketing. The company provides a strategic approach that helps companies win more business more often. This includes bids, pitches and award entry. Purpol have just passed the £3.5bn opportunity win milestone for clients and have a current 95% win rate.
When did you realise the Coronavirus could be a problem for you and your business?
I was aware immediately – history has shown that marketing is often first hit when there is any lack of confidence in the economy, and this is unprecedented.
Having traded for six years, Purpol have now seen three general elections and a referendum which all had a massive impact on bid writing as the government shuts down in terms of publishing contracts. This is one of the reasons to have a few elements in your business as when one is in less demand, another can be focused on instead.
Purpol has always operated a home working methodology so we have all the technology in place to carry on working remotely. It is now the situation that many businesses will not be earning much income so are instead looking how they can cut expenditure. This is a dramatic effect for all those in the marketing sectors as this is often seen as ‘nice to have’ rather than essential. This is a mistake which many will regret.
We are recommending to all companies that they do what they can to remain visible, those who keep their profile will be in a better position when we come out of the other side.
What has been your plan to continue?
I have always had a very prudent approach to cashflow management and kept capital within the business. Purpol have times when they earn more when a large bid is in progress and quieter times in between. We made sure we had enough capital and always pay our suppliers very quickly as this also keeps other businesses trading.
We took an early decision to ‘productise’ our knowledge, so that income earning was not dependent exclusively on face to face interaction or activity. This has included the generation of online courses – ‘Magnificent Marketing’ and ‘The Better Way to Bid’ as well as recordings from seminars. Alongside this I published my first book in January, called WINNER – How to Win Business Awards.
During this time I will be revisiting a lot of the creative material I have already created and seeing how this can be reformatted and made more relevant for the future market. I will provide a supportive ear and a virtual hug for all my business friends and am providing my online course with a huge discount and a commitment that 80% of the spend on that course will be paid forward and spent with other small businesses locally.
The time we have is not our choice, but I will be trying to focus on what I want to achieve, using this as an opportunity to reassess and make new plans.
What advice would you give to others in business?
I want all businesses to know we are all together in this, that if anyone can help each other with knowledge sharing and support, they need to do so - such as what technology they use to keep on going.
Focus on cashflow and look how you can pivot your services or products to better fill the current circumstance. Keep your profile high = share your ‘thought leadership’ knowledge via social media and keep talking to your clients in a sincere way. Authenticity is very important in times of crisis, people don’t want aggressive sales.
Your business is a commercial organisation so if you charge for your expertise make sure you do not give everything for free as this will potentially damage your future price point in the market. Concentrate instead on a special discount or a value add where you can bundle things together and make it of greater value. If you have a skill that cannot be delivered face to face at the moment, then create a voucher that can be redeemed later.
I am offering my Magnificent Marketing Course - worth £299 - for only £49. And out of any courses sold via this method I pledge to spend 80% with other SMEs. That way, the course hosting fee is covered and the balance can be spent to make another business smile. The course is never this amount. I would love for it to be inclusive as possible.
Create a login and use the coupon code sme2020 - this will take £250 off the course making it £49.
I am encouraging all businesses to make offers and share them so we can support each other.
What can we do to help each other?
Letting everyone know you are there in your business community is very important – either for a chat by phone, a webinar or even sharing that cute puppy photo on social media.
Realisation of the scale of this is now setting in and when people know that they cant control many aspects of the outcome they are rightly very anxious.
Focus instead on what you can do – write the copy for your website, update your news page and LinkedIn profile, add in those testimonials you have had for ages but never had the time to promote on your social media.
Think – what can you do to productise your knowledge? What can you change about your distribution model? Are there new relationships you can form with other businesses to share capacity?
Making sure you honour your commitments and support your suppliers is essential – pay what you have promised.
Active communication is going to be essential to maintaining both business continuity and morale. Take the opportunity to give a shout out to other business, leave them a great review, write a testimonial, promote them.
What do you think can be learned from this in the business world?
It is an abrupt reminder that nothing is certain and everything can always change very quickly. It is also true that the future may not be like the past – businesses who adapt quickly will be in the best position.
The market will decide what is needed and as a business you have to interpret that demand. You cannot afford to be too precious about anything that you have created - if you need to change it you must do so to better fit with what the market requires.
Many businesses will be having a look at their technology to see how they can automate as well as remote work. Some will be comfortable with this but is raises new challenges and of course those who produce physical items need to be there to do it.
Many businesses will be reviewing the locality of their supply chains and will reassess the supplier and client mix within the business – it is definitely the case that not too much dependency should be placed on any one customer or supplier.
It is the perennial reminder that cash is king and reserves need to be made in the calm times as it is never known when the choppy waters will arrive.
Your parting thought?
This too shall pass, but I don’t think we will ever be the same again. This is where friendships will be tested and secured and the important things will become in sharper focus.
Sending support to everyone – if you would like to email me firstname.lastname@example.org happy to chat.
For more information www.purpolmarketing.co.uk