The pandemic is a moment in history, rather like 9/11. And like other such moments, it takes us into ourselves and causes us to think about what matters to us and why. Recognising that, and helping people to live with it, is the key to success now and in the future.

Maslow’s triangle and our reptile brain

When our world has shifted so much, and we feel helpless and adrift, we tend to fall to the bottom of Maslow’s Triangle. We are much more concerned with safety, food, water, warmth and rest than any higher aims for us as humans. Hence, the rush to buy toilet rolls and baked beans. Our reptile brain, the most basic of our thinking systems, kicks in, and we react rather than consider. We are mainly driven by fear.

How business now works

Remember that the Rules of Business are Changing – so people’s behaviour is changing. So be more aware of how and when those changes show themselves.

You need to build resilience and know you are dealing with tension and not a problem. You have to manage this situation, because you can’t solve it. People who have lived through a major conflict show a frugality which their children found amusing. Now, we are feeling the same. None of us know what might be taken away from us at a moment’s notice, so we are all husbanding our resources. Business can change to accommodate this.

How do our fears affect us?

Fear saps our mental energy. We have a finite amount, which we have talked about in our video When to Make Decisions in which we discuss the Rubicon model of action phases. If we have to think about wearing a mask, how we will socially distance when we are out, how we will keep apart in a venue, how we will get something to eat and drink, how many people may have touched something, we will exhaust our mental energy before we leave the house. All the joy of the experience will be sapped by the worry. We will never cross the Rubicon. Deciding to march on Rome – crossing the Rubicon – was Julius Caesar’s biggest energy drain. Marching on Rome was easier.

How to get them across the Rubicon

Make your customer’s decision easier by taking away the fear and make it pleasant for people to visit you (or do business with you), knowing they’ll have help when they get there. In the early days of lockdown we were quoted in the press saying “Make sure you are the easy people to do business with.” That is even more important now.

Find  customers’ fear points and address them. Here are some examples:

A restaurant might be Covid secure but the route to and from the venue might be worrying customers. Arrange a taxi to collect them and take them home again. For those who prefer restaurant food at home, make it more of a restaurant experience, with a candle for the table, or flowers for a date night.

Clothing retailers might provide a personal shopper so that the customer knows that they won’t touch the wrong things, and they would get an experience rather than just essential shopping. Guiding a customer saves them looking at unsuitable items and saves their mental energy, so making it easier for them to decide to buy. It also provides some much-needed social interaction. For frugal customers, offer a fitting and repair service. This all builds a relationship and mitigates the drift to a transactional and therefore cheaper environment.

Think about your own business. What are your customers fears and how can you address them?

Transactional or relationship?

Be very clear on what you are providing to fit with customer expectations. If you wish to attract customers who want the best value this will be a transactional experience. Ensure you don’t over stock, as it leads to more cash tied up and the extra choice slows customers decisions. Make purchase decision easy to understand – perhaps offer 3 different price points, but no more. And make sure you are pricing for profit. There are some sales and marketing blogs here to help you and a free marketing planner in our Learning Centre.

If you want to develop relationships so that you keep the customers you have got, then you need to double down on the customer care and really know them well. Here are more blogs on customers. Specifically ensure you know the Job to be Done.

Don’t be in two minds. Go for one approach or the other. Be clear so that your team and your customers know what to expect.

Trying to satisfy everyone means that your business will satisfy no one, including yourself.

Helping hand

At Hixsons we make sure our clients are agile, flexible and resilient so that they are better able to respond to shocks. You can also read the helping in a crisis stories of how we helped 6 local businesses turn things around in the early days of the pandemic.

In the spirit of helping our business community we have new Brexit resources in our learning centre where you will find various tools and templates for your business. We do not ask for your data and it’s completely free.