Is your business positioned to survive the economic downturn heading South Africa's way? Do you know where the market is heading post-Covid? If you have not thought about these important questions, I suggest you start thinking about these factors as a matter of urgency. As Bob Dylan's famous song states "the times, they are a changing". Things in the world are changing at a rapid pace, and if you cannot move with the changing times, you might be left behind.
The only constant in life is change...
However, change is probably one of the most difficult things for human beings to do. We love our traditions, habits and holding on to how we use to do things. Very often our pride stands in the way of re-inventing ourselves as human beings and most importantly our businesses. Steve Jobs said very accurately that great companies find ways to re-invent themselves.
According to the latest survey by the South African SME Finance Association (SASFA), most small businesses in the country will close their doors due to the strict Lockdown South African had gone through. This survey does not include the major challenges heading our way in the latter part of 2020 and 2021.
This being said, I’m always an optimist and I believe there are opportunities in these difficult times. Paul Getty, founder of the Getty Oil Company said, “I buy when others are selling”. This philosophy helped Getty to become the wealthiest man in the 60’s with an estimated net worth of $1.2bn.
I want to encourage you to metaphorically “buy when others are selling”. Just maybe, this is an opportunity, amidst the chaos, for you to re-invent your business. Wayne Gretzky, the greatest ice hockey player of all time said that he used to skate towards where the puck is going to be, not where it has been. As a business owner, you need to move where the market is going to be and not where it has been.
The first aspect of your business that needs re-invention is your strategy. Every battle plan starts with a strategy. A strategy determines the direction of your business, and the direction determines where you will end up. Your strategy should enable your business to position itself to where the market is heading, rather than where the market has been.
There are three main aspects in your business to consider in your strategic approach for the future:
1. Unique Selling Proposition
- Your Unique Selling Proposition.
- Your Competitive Advantage.
- How Accessible is Your Offering.
Your unique selling proposition is as it states the element that makes you unique. What can your business do that is unique in market, this can range from a unique feature in your product or service, it can be the uniqueness of your brand or even a unique emotional attachment to your product or service offering.
Whatever your unique selling proposition is, make sure that none of the competitors can deliver this result or emotional feeling. Remember, people are emotional buyers, and you need to figure out how to tap into that emotional aspect of your target market.2. Competitive Advantage
Although people buy emotionally, they also justify logically. The trick is to give your customers the opportunity to logically justify their purchase for their peace of mind.
Every buyer has a few questions before he buys. There are at least four questions consumers have that needs answering for them to justify the purchase logically:
- Cost: How much will the product or service cost? (Yes, the cost is very important, should not be hidden and determines easily 80% of whether the prospect will continue or not).
- Delivery Time: How quick can the product or service be delivered?
- Requirements: What are the requirements to start?
- Process: What is the step-by-step process to finalise the product or service offering?
If you answer these questions in your marketing or sales pitch, it could improve your strike rate from interested to sold!3. Accessibility
How easy is it for your customer to purchase your product or service offering? The easier you make it; the quicker people pay. The more difficult your process is to deliver what the customer needs, the bigger the chance that they will put the matter on hold
One of the most important questions you can ask yourself is, how can I remove the red tape for my customer and simplify the process? This will result in quicker payments, excellent user experience and great service, which has another positive knock-on effect – a satisfied customer.
A satisfied customer is one of the biggest assets you can have, they promote your business wherever they go, and they will stay loyal to you until the day, God forbids you make a mistake. That is the only reason a loyal client will leave you.
In closing, Steve Jobs said, “never try to be better than the competition, try to be different”. This is excellent advice. I want to add to this and say, a perfect strategy is one where you are different, better, and easier to use than the competitors. If you can pull this off, you will truly disrupt the market and position yourself as the number one brand in the industry and well on your way to skate to where the puck will be, and not where it has been.