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How to Grow Your Business Through the CoronaVirus Crisis

| Business, COVID19 | 0 comments

It has been over a month since President Donald Trump declared a national emaergency due to the Novel CoronaVirus (CoVid-19) on March 13, 2020.

Businesses have been shut down, employees sent home, lives have been radically, and almost certainly permanently, changed.

Just as in the years following the only other international pandemic I can think of – the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 – our society, our economy, and out businesses will change.

Already, you’re seeing some of these changes. Here’s just two that come to mind.

  • Grocery stores offering pick up and delivery services
  • Restaurants with no dine-in options

Over the past month, I’ve been studying businesses who succeeded, and even thrived, during and after the Spanish Flu, and the Great Depression. I wanted to learn some lessons from history so that I wouldn’t be doomed to repeat them.

So, I thought I’d share a few of the lessons with you.

  • Find New Ways to Market
  • Find New Products to Market
  • Find New Ways to Promote
  • Find New Ways to Diversify

At the end of this article, I’ll give you an ebook I’m writing to help business owners understand that the Corona Virus does not have to mean the end of your business forever. (and, there’s one more bonus strategy included.)

Grow Your Business Through the COVID-19 Crisis by Finding New Ways to Market

First, let’s think about this… is anyone else advertising — marketing their products or services in your industry right now? It’s doubtful.

Most of the time, during a financial contraction, businesses tend to cut their marketing budget down to nothing.

I love the lesson of Proctor and Gamble’s victory over the Great Depression. Back in the days of the Great Depression, P&G tied their names to serial broadcasts. These daily radio dramas eventually took over the TV market, still with the radio staton’s advertisers (Proctor and Gamble) and the company’s  primary customers (mothers)

This logic fails me complexly. And, it should be the sign of a failing company.

As a matter of fact, this should be when companies advertise the most — if they’re smart.

A reduced appetite for advertising space crates a reduced advertising cost. That means you’ll be able to negotiate the best deal for your business! Negotiate. Stricke deals wtth all of your advertising mediums!

For instance, tell them that you’ll sponsor a daily COVID-10 infection update four times a day (four per day) with four promos for the update with mentions of your sponsorship, and four more 40 second ads per day in the clear (without the adjoining update) for the same amount you were (previously) paying for ad time.

If you need help finding content to put in those spots, contact me, I’ve got access to plenty.

Grow Your Business Through the COVID-19 Crisis by Finding New Products to Market

The classic Martin Guitar has long been a desired product of musicians. Many older lines of their instruments are now collectors items. I’ve seen Martins sell for more than $50,000. One instrument, the 1936-42 model of the D-45 sells for over $300,000.  

What you may not know is that Martin Music Company was close to closing after the stock market crash of 1929 and the ensuing Great Depression. But, the company of musical creators got a little creative in their approach to business during the economic downturn. And, they shifted their focus in two ways.

A Shifted Focus Helps Business Thrive During Crisis

The Martin Music Company first committed to their smaller distributors by refusing to give bulk order discounts to their larger customers. This move built up the reputation and good name of the Martins across the country. They developed a wonderful reputation of being fair, even in tough times.

Second, the Martin Music Company developed new products to sell that fit the needs of their customers. You may not be familiar with the name “Dreadnought,” but, I’m sure you’ve seen an acoustic dreadnought guitar without knowing it.

The Martin Music Company realized they needed a guitar with improved acoustics. The guitar needed to be heard over the sounds of other instruments, and throughout larger rooms. Thus, the creation of the dreadnought guitar. With it’s larger and deeper body, the guitar featured more volume and better bass resonance.

The design also featured 14 frets on the neck, making the instrument beginner-friendly and easier to plan.

The company recognized a need to expand its product line in order to sell more product. And, they also found ways to reduce the costs in producing the guitars.

In the next few weeks and months, use the time given you by the Corona Virus shelter in place orders to find ways to revolutionize your business model, provide quality at reasonable prices and respect the little guy. By doing so, you’ll find reasons and ways to create new products and take advantage of emerging opportunities for your product line.

Grow Your Business Through the COVID-19 Crisis by Finding New Ways to Promote

Just two years prior to the stock market crash of 1929, the first “talkie” was released in movie houses around the glove. “The Jazz Singer” featuring music by Al Jolson resulted in rave reviews and a radical new way to tell stories. But, the revolutionary invention wasn’t enough to save the business from collapsing during the Great Depression.

So, what didi the theater owners do to stay open?

Increase the Perceived Value of Your Product

The movie house owners increased the perceived value of their products in many different ways. They offered product giveaways.

For instance, some owners would buy an inexpensive, yet, durable set of dishes (or some other product), and entice mothers to bring their children and husbands to the movies in order to win more points to win a set of dishes.

This scheme encouraged repeat (and bulk) purchases of movie tickets.

Another way movie house owners increased the perceived value of their theater was by offering “double features.” Often, one of the movies were cheaply-made movies, but, it gave the viewer another great reason to stay inside the movie house. And, during the summer months, that was an ideal place to spend long hours during the heat of the day.

A third improvement in perceived value during this time is the addition of air conditioning to movie theaters, first in New York City, and then across the nation. 

Decrease the Actual Prices of Your Products

Understanding the principle that “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush,” theater owners lowered their prices. Theatre owners cut ticket prices by as much as fifty percent (50%).

You need to notice that: they lowered prices while they were raising value.

Grocers in the day did much the same things.

By joining together with others in their business across the nation, the theaters and grocers increased their buying power to lower costs. They also shared costs in ways to add value after the purchase in the form of bonuses, coupons, double features and free prizes.

This week, you need to call together others in your industry, leading companies of a similar size and develop a new cooperative. Look to develop a buying cooperative, a marketing cooperative, and an investing cooperative. By doing so, you’ll improve your profitability today, and set up a formula for massive success in the next few years.

Grow Your Business Through the COVID-19 Crisis by Finding New Ways to Diversify Your Product Line

I saved this lesson from the past for last — mainly because I’m such a fan of this product and this company.

You may have never heard of Barqs’ Root Beer. That’s ok, I grew up on it. Until I moved out of Mississippi back to Alabama, I didn’t drink many other major brand soft drinks. I was almost exclusively a Barqs’ consumer. And, that was before I discovered the Mississippi roots in this company and brand now owned and managed by Coca-Cola.

(Coca-Cola was first bottled in Natchez, Mississippi, by the way)

The Barqs family, based in New Orleans at the time of the Great Depression and Prohibition, owned a well-known and profitable brewery in the historic city on the Mississippi River.

For this family, as well as the Busch’s (of Budweiser fame) the struggle was very real. Over half of the country’s breweries collapsed and closed forever. The remaining breweries were determined to remain open in hopes of the repeal of the Prohibition laws. Most of them made it, even when about a quarter of the population were jobless.

The amazing thing is what they did to remain open.

The Breweries Diversified Their Products to Survive the Great Depression

Some breweries in the Mid-West started running dairies. Some expanded to meat packing.

Others started making legally accepted “near bear,” the ingredients and flavor but with only a trace of alcohol.

One brewer, Frank Yuenling diversified himself while his brewery was shut down. He ran a dance hall and served as a bank president until he could reopen his beer company.

Others, like the Barqs had to be even more savvy.

To be honest, breweries had to compete with local moonshiners for the alcohol-purchasing dollar, and that was a competition for price, not for quality.

So, Barqs created non-alcoholic drinks. These “soft drinks” included flavors like ginger beer (ginger ale), cream soda and root beer. The root beer made by Barqs spread across much of the Deep South during the days of the Prohibition.

Edward Barq bottled “soft drinks” like filtered and sparkling water, and an orange-flavored soda called “Orangine” which won a gold medal at the Chicago World’s Fair.

To survive, Barq moved his operations out of New Orleans to Biloxi, Mississippi. His newly formed Biloxi Artesian Bottling Works company created his innovative new drink called “Root Beer.”

The company diversified his product lines, and in 1934, he also innovated a new business model for drink production. Because of the growing demand for his Root Beer and other drinks, Edward signed a contractual agreement between his company and an employee to produce his drinks under the same brand name, with the same recipe in New Orleans.

To signify the bottling source to customers, their bottles added a blue label to the Biloxi-bottled product and a red label to those made in New Orleans.

This week, be thinking of ways you can diversify your product line and how you can innovate new ways to expand your business beyond your current sphere of influence.

I love what a local micro-brewery here in my hometown of Gadsden, Alabama is doing along this line. Back Forty Beer needed a product to keep their business in business. knowing that the shelter-in-place orders would force their biggest customers — bars — to shut down.

Since there were extremely limited supplies of hand-sanitizers, company founder Jason Wilson converted his plant to produce Back Stop Hand Sanitizer. The new product enabled Back Forty Beer to keep the production plant open, and his employees working — paying his workers and maintaining his business.

Innovative creativity to meet the needs of customers in changing times is a hallmark of local businesses who survived and even thrived in the days fo the Great Depression. The same will be said when this crisis is in our history books.

I mentioned I was writing an e-book based on this information, and that I was including one more secret tip to help your business grow in the midst of this Corona Virus Crisis, and the almost-sure-to-follow economic crisis.

You don’t have to panic about losing your business. Just learn the lessons of history so you won’t be doomed to repeat them. My documentation of those lessons can be yours for a small fee of $5 by clicking the “Learn More” button below.





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August 2022

Phillip Swindall

133 Mountary Circle
Gadsden, Alabama 35901
(256) 504-4198

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