Shortages are affecting everyone: price increases, limited raw materials and freight, and a competitive hiring market means a lot of companies are at capacity and unable to take new orders from customers.
If this is you, and you’re wondering what to do, here are a few ideas.
Get Out in Front of the Story
“I’m so glad you waited to tell me my purchase is delayed until I have an installation crew booked!” said NO ONE EVER.
Protect your company’s reputation by getting out in front of the story with customers. Have Marketing and Sales work together to unify the messaging and explain delays well in advance of delivery. Reassure your customers with a blog: pull research and consider interviewing your vendors, so you have that critical third-party validation that this isn't caused by your company. It’s not a fun conversation, but waiting until on or near delivery day to tell customers about delays can build resentment. They have bosses, schedules, budgets, and customers waiting too.
Stay on top of the situation - this is not a one and done. Check in with Operations and Human Resources and highlight new vendors for supplies, new innovations, and hirings as soon and as often as you can to reassure your audience.
Market for SEO Rather Than Sales
If you’ve bemoaned how every Search Engine Optimization initiative you’ve had in the past has been waylaid in favor of ramping up quarterly earnings, now is the rainy day you’ve been waiting for. Maximize that SEO effort:
- Review your Google Analytics keywords and update your editorial bible
- Edit website and marketing content to reflect any changes
- Draft new white paper content with those keywords for long-term gains
- Create video content for higher click thru rates
- Distribute via all channels, including social media and drip campaigns
- Build backlinks with trade journals
- Build new partnerships to distribute and amplify your message
- Consider Paid Search options
Your website is your shopfront. Raising your Google ranking will assist you when the shortages are over and you’re back to targeted campaigns for sales.
All great narratives derive from conflict, and necessity is the mother of invention. Shortages require innovation, and those innovations are great narratives to keep, as they differentiate you from the competition. You can:
- Share these stories in thought leadership articles for your industry and boost SEO
- Share them in blogs with your customers demonstrating grace under pressure
- Document these stories with metrics and artwork for next year’s business awards to ensure lasting value.
Everyone likes to do business with a winner: an award for an innovation or great customer service at a time when things were hard is adding judicious sugar and water to the lemons you didn’t order.
Focus Sales on Strategy Too
If your sales team isn’t on the phones meeting quarterly goals, it’s a great time to strategize new campaigns and efforts for the future.
- Prioritize accounts that have Recurring Revenue potential
- Consider devising a loyalty program with rewards
- Advise your team who those accounts are, so operations staff know to treat them with extra care
- Consider new e-commerce distribution channels like Amazon
- Explore new revenue streams and new vertical markets
Don’t Forget Technology
It’s difficult to install new technologies when everyone is working at a breakneck pace to meet orders, since it typically requires downtime. Consider whether now is a good time to install something on your technology wishlist: marketing automation, CRM, or a new ERP. Or should you maximize or clean up some technology you already have.
This moment can be a painful one in your company’s history or a time of record innovation and operational improvement. Use it well, because the only given is that the shortages are finite: you will be back in the battle for market share soon.