Make your recession-proof business – Part 3: Super Serve!

Crisis or not, you need to show up for your clients and your community in meaningful and valuable ways. But during a recession, this is even more important. It will help you keep your business alive, and if you are strategic, helping it to grow!

You need to get ready to super-serve your people!

This is the third part in a series on recession-proofing your business. We first looked at how you can assess the challenges and opportunities facing your business. In the second part, we focused on using that assessment to help you pivot your business.

In this final part, I am going to share with you the big questions you need to ask to work out how to show up for your clients and your community, and how super-serving can actually help you grow your business, even in challenging circumstances.

Most importantly, I am going to share with you how to do this without giving away your products or services!

This blog article is a summary of the related podcast episode.

Click here to listen to the tips mentioned in this article.

While I am writing this in the middle of the global COVID-19 pandemic, having a service mindset is going to help you build a solid business foundation at any time. In order to get, you need to first give. And giving in a strategic, intentional way will help you grow your business, even in the best of times.

But as we are facing some challenging times right now, I want to start with one big priority.

This is not the time to go missing in action. This is the time for you to show what you and your business really stand for!

The first thing you want to focus on is how you can show up and maintain contact with your existing clients and community – they need to be your main priority. Then you need to look at how you can reach out to future clients, people who might not be in your community yet – because it can be done, even in a recession!

I’m going to share five questions that can help you super-serve your clients and your community right now!

1. What are your current clients struggling with or looking for help with

Here you need to focus on understanding what your clients need right now, and how you can meet that need. You need to think about how circumstances have changed for them.

2. What is your community/industry struggling with or looking for help with right now?

In order to grow your business, you need to think about future clients, and the community beyond your current clients and understand what they need.

3. What additional resources can you provide for free or at very low cost?

This is the time to be smart about using what you have already created. You don’t want to be investing time or money in creating new content or services. You need to repurpose what you have to super-serve right now!

4. What new resources do I have the capacity to create right now?

Once you know what you already have available, you might have capacity to create something new or to amend existing resources into a new offer. But again, you don’t want to invest too heavily in this.

5. Who can I collaborate with to super-serve my clients and community?

In difficult times, it is so important to collaborate with your colleagues and peers in your industries and look at what you can do together. Together you can amplify the impact you can make!

So if you want to get ready to super-serve, you need to take time to consider and reflect on these questions.

To help you go from these questions to outstanding super-service, I am going to share some examples of different types of super-service with you.

Public service

Public service isn’t just good karma, if you are really intentional about it, it can bring benefits for your business. It can even be tied into your marketing strategy and help you retain clients by enhancing your reputation and showing how much you care.

So, during the coronavirus crisis, a lot of companies didn’t have demand for or were unable to produce their traditional products. But they still had a facility capable of producing something. Many of them have chosen to make face masks and hand sanitizer.

For example, the Italian drinks company Ramazzotti made hand sanitizer for free distribution to local voluntary organizations in its community.

What this company is doing is serving not just its clients, but a whole nation, making it part of the solution to what is happening right now. They are not asking for anything but their generosity will definitely be remembered.

This example goes back to the question – what capacity do you have to serve right now? In this case, Ramazzotti used its infrastructure to produce a product that is so badly needed right now, even though it has nothing to do with its usual business.

Customer service

This is definitely the time to cherish your clients more than ever. You really need to show up if you want them to stay and not give up on you!

So here is an example from AT&T and an email they sent that really impressed me. Basically, they were acknowledging that we are in difficult times and letting me know they were there for me. They were giving me an opportunity to talk to them about any difficulties with paying my bills and letting me know that they would help me.

This is well written and promotes a feeling of closeness with their customers. It is also very smart marketing as it costs a lot of money to recoup unpaid bills. And it also costs less to keep customers, even if they are paying a little less than it does to get new ones. So they are super-serving and protecting their business by being strategic about it.

Community service

Here I’m actually going to share something from my own business, Tandem Nomads.

As coronavirus was spreading globally, and countries were going into lockdown, I began to see the impact on my clients. As I have shared with you in previous episodes, some of my clients just didn’t feel able to show up for their one-to-one coaching sessions and the Tandem Nomads Facebook community was not sharing or reacting as they usually would. It is normally such a vibrant group.

So I asked myself the five questions that I shared with you at the start of this blog. And I realized that in the Tandem Nomads community, I had access to an amazing group of experts that could really help – experts in homeschooling, experts in teaching, in mindfulness, managing fear, managing stress – all the areas that my clients and community needed to take care of before even looking at marketing strategies and business strategies.

At around the same time, it became clear that my clients were short on time and suffering from ‘zoom fatigue’ so providing this expert help via a webinar wasn’t a good option. So instead, we created The Confinement Toolbox in the Tandem Nomads Facebook group.

The experts each provided a short 5-10 minute video with key tips, and if people wanted to go deeper, they could connect with them directly through the group. I am so grateful to have these amazing and generous people in our group and I’ve had great feedback from so many people who found their guidance useful as they coped with all the sudden changes and anxiety of lockdown.

The other positive thing about this was that as well as serving my own community directly, I was also able to support the experts in it by giving them a platform to share their expertise.

These are just a few examples to inspire you to think about how you can super-serve your community.

The next step is to think about how you can generate new leads and visibility by super-serving your audience, your clients, and your community!

This is important because your business needs to survive. You need to be able to make money and to grow so that you do not become a liability, not just for yourself but for the economy too. You have a role to play in economic recovery!

While you need to keep serving, you can’t do it at the expense of your own business. You need to think about how you can be present and show up in a way that raises awareness of your business and what you do.

I want to share with you just a few examples of how you can combine super-service with gaining new leads and visibility.

The challenge

First, and this is one I have shared in previous episodes, ‘the challenge’. Creating a challenge during difficult times gives you a way to both support and bring people together. It can also generate leads.

My example comes from my own experience with my personal trainer. Obviously, with lockdown, it was impossible for us to keep meeting and working one-to-one. So I was excited when he came to me with a 30-day workout challenge. Every single day, he sent an exercise video for me to do and I had to report back on it every single day!

This was an amazing, smart way for him to serve me and to show up for me and to make sure that I don’t forget about him. We don’t know when we will be able to go back to working out in a gym. So in the meantime, he has kept in touch with me in a really meaningful way through this challenge.

It has been an amazing experience for me.

But the other side of it is that the challenge allowed him to attract new clients. So many of his existing clients started to share videos and talk about the challenge that he gained visibility with a whole new audience.

The first challenge was only available to existing clients and he asked for donations rather than a payment. However, he’s now started a new challenge with more people, it’s a paid program, and it sold out after just one week. This is a great example of what can happen when you super-serve strategically!

So think about this – what can you put in place to serve your current clients that could also appeal to new ones?

Free and valuable resources

This is another example from my own experience. Once I had focused on meeting my community’s immediate needs with managing the family, social and personal impact of lockdown, the next step for me was to ask how I could help them with their business. That’s my area of expertise and that’s where this three-part series on recession-proofing your business comes in.

I also created a free webinar called ‘How to attract clients and communicate in uncertain times’ to help my community cope with the economic impact of COVID-19. I asked that everyone who wanted to participate in the webinar signed up, which allowed me to grow my mailing list quite significantly. So putting on valuable webinars can be a smart, targeted way to super-serve and generate leads.

However, before you decide to run a webinar, you need to address some of the potential barriers including time, and ‘Zoom fatigue’. I had to super-serve to meet that need for my clients first before I could show up with my webinars. This also helped make sure that those who participated in the webinar were really committed and passionate about finding a way forward for their business.

The other benefit of offering a webinar was that the feedback was so good that I actually managed to launch a paid-for weekend workshop, giving a number of business owners a chance to work with me over a weekend, and to develop their very own action plan for recession proofing their business.

You can see here how giving free guidance through my original webinar helped me gain new clients, initially for the workshop, and eventually for my one-on-one coaching services as well. How can you super-serve with great content that fires up people, providing them with great help that makes them want to work with you even more?

Free access – virtual office hours

One of my clients, Career Valet was about to launch a new product when the pandemic crisis really hit. The focus of their new product was on helping people who were unhappy in their current job to find a new one. I talked about the experiences in the second part of this series.

As you can imagine that during this time, people are not at the point of quitting an existing job and moving to something new. But what Michelle and Danielle from Career Valet realized was that this was exactly the time to super-serve their community.

The created ‘virtual office hours’, making themselves available to answer questions about job searching, particularly in terms of people’s uncertainty, stress and anxiety around this issue. By launching this weekly service, they have doubled their mailing list and achieved sales as a result.

Again, this is how showing up for your community when they really need you can generate new leads and allow you to secure new clients. If you choose to do this, you do need to make sure that you have worked through the steps we talked about in the first two parts of this series and that you’re delivering great quality, valuable content. When you do that you can truly transform your effort into real revenue, and happy clients.

Think outside the box!

I’ve given you some examples of super-serving your clients and community and there are many other things you can do, but I wanted to finish with an inspiring example that shows what can happen when you think outside the box.

This example has gone viral and driven incredible visibility because it’s so smart and creative. And super-serving is one area when you should allow yourself to be a little crazy and really challenge your thinking!

This is a great example of creating a quality connection with your customers, at a time when you can’t sell anything to them. In marketing, we talk about this as creating quality time with our prospective customers.

Have you heard of the Faroe Islands? Before this new campaign, I didn’t really know much about them and now I want to visit!

The tourism office for the Faroe Faroe islands came up with an amazing idea. They realized that while they couldn’t attract tourists to the islands right now, they needed to do something to connect with future visitors.

So they used gaming technology to allow people to experience the islands remotely, allowing people to explore and learn more from the comfort of their couch.

And this is not just a great experience, it has created a huge PR campaign and visibility for the Islands. The type of media coverage that this experience has created would have been so expensive to purchase as advertising so this has driven incredible value and interest in the Island as a destination.

This example shows that being really creative about how you serve and create this quality time that builds a relationship with your potential clients can actually lead to real business results.

So think about that in your business. How can you make sure to show up? How can you make sure to truly, genuinely super-serve? It is so important.  I shared with you in the beginning how companies are really, really being very present and putting their energy and effort into solving the real problems that their clients are having. but when the problems are not.

And even if the problems seem a little less practical and more existential, you can still be there to serve by entertaining, by creating quality time, and most importantly, by building a relationship with your potential clients until times get better and until you can really do business with them. There are so many ways you can be creative and make an impact.

Generating new leads

There is one thing that can stop you from really generating new leads from super-serving. And that is not asking for emails so that you can follow up!

Some people have told me that they don’t feel comfortable requesting people’s emails when they are giving something for free – so you are offering a webinar, e-book, or other content for free without asking for anyone’s email in return.

You do need to get those email addresses!. You need to keep your business afloat. Yes, you need to give as much as you can right now but you need to do it in a way that doesn’t harm your business. Don’t let your focus on helping stop you from collecting email addresses and building your list. Just because you are helping doesn’t mean you can’t ask for this!

And if you believe that what you are sharing is valuable and really helpful to your community, and you don’t ask for emails, you are removing the opportunity for your community to hear about how you can help them even more. So rather than serving them, you are actually doing them a disservice! So make sure that when you offer something for free, that you are asking for emails in return so that you can support them even further.

You can learn more about how free content can help you grow your business in this episode.

Also if you are building your email list, don’t forget to consider the legal aspects, including GDPR. Here is an episode to help you with those issues:

GDPR post 2018: What you need to know and do – With Bobby Klinck

Don’t confuse super-serving with giving away your service/product!

Please don’t confuse what you’re giving for free to serve your clients and community with giving away your product or service. I actually don’t want you to sell yourself cheap or to give away everything you have for free!

As I explained in part two of this series, I really discourage using discounts. And you shouldn’t confuse that with super-serving either. This is why I gave you this list of questions at the beginning to think about and asked you to think about what you can give that does not require more energy or effort and that doesn’t cost you money as well.

So don’t give away your product, your service, make sure to sell them, because if you don’t make money, you are going to be part of the problem. You want to think about what you can offer for free that complements your product/service.

For example, this podcast is for free and it’s complementary to my services. It is part of my business strategy. The webinar that I offered was free, but it also helped me actually promote and sell my paid workshop. So you can see how you can be very smart by giving a lot of value to your audience, to your community and your clients – and that you can do that without giving away your existing products and services for free.

There’s a big difference between helping and serving your people and actually hurting your business and yourself. Now, I know the Tandem Nomads community is very generous and that so many of you have already stepped up to super-serve but please make sure that you’re not doing anything that is actually going to stop you growing your business!

You can find the first two blogs in this series here:

Make your business recession-proof – Part 1: Assess

Make your business recession-proof – Part 2: Pivot

I hope you have found this series on recession-proofing your business useful – don’t forget that the information here is all relevant and valuable to building a strong and profitable business, even in the good times!