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Your customers have got more important things to think about than you.

With nearly half the economy in a coma, it’s difficult to think about anything else, business-wise. The network effect has started making itself felt in reverse - it is becoming more difficult (more impossible) to do business because of a dwindling pool of suppliers and customers, a virtuous circle turned vicious.

Perhaps the first step is to recognise your customers aren’t necessarily going through the same anxieties or facing the same problems as you. And assuming that they are could lead you into serious problems. Remember that the consequences of the virus and the lockdown have been very uneven, on both individuals and businesses. Of course, the effects have been uniformly catastrophic for the event industry, but every business within it is being presented with its own set of challenges.

So as you ‘pivot’ your business to face into the lockdown and navigating your way out of it, consider each of your existing customers carefully and evaluate what the most obvious challenges are for them. Talk to them without selling to them, and dig a little deeper into how they are planning to weather the lockdown and what plans they have to change their own practices, market focus, product line etc.

Remember that your existing customers know you for what you do already. They trust you, they depend on you for your services and products. And right now, they may have more important things to think about, like their customers. This is not the time to upsell with new products and services to your existing customer, promising to solve their lockdown woes. Now is the time to look at how their needs have, and are expected to, change, and to enhance your offering in practical ways. What can you add, or streamline. What can you make easier, or what alternatives might make more economic sense for your customers right now?

And resist the temptation to join-in with any kind of love-fest where you start giving things away ‘because we’re all in this together.’ Don’t lose sight of the commercial and practical realities in your haste to be the nicest, most charitable, supportive and sympathetic event industry business. It is laudable to offer lifelines and help to other businesses but don’t sacrifice your own commercial viability in the process.

Support your existing customers by doing what you did well for them before lockdown, they will appreciate it afterwards when they take stock of who was there for them when times were hardest.

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