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Written by Trine Larsen

Pre and post Covid – should Perth business owners take a different approach?

Over the past 6 months, as a community we haven’t seen as much; change, innovation, the need to adjust and rapidly adapt than most Perth business owners are likely to experience in their entire business careers.

2020 started out with a sense of optimism in the air. The business was steadily growing, interest rates were low and falling, the Budget was coming back in to balance. For our organisation specifically, Signarama Joondalup was looking forward to celebrating our 20th year in business, with various celebrations and promotions planned; our ’20 in 2020’, as well as experiencing a steady increase in revenue.
And then IT happened……..COVID.

And overnight, all plans and projections were thrown out the window. Our mode of operation and thought processes immediately flipped from one of well-planned execution to one of surviving at all costs, and sort out the rest later. Our challenges morphed from whether we were going to hit our monthly targets, to whether we had enough toilet paper and hand sanitizer, or would we have to resort to rations? Doing more with less became a necessity, and drove the requirement for challenging old thought processes that no longer applied to the new business landscape so many were encountering.

A complete mindset change was required within days. New plans implemented within weeks. Whew!
Now, we head out of the other side of the crisis to try to re-establish a form of business normality. So, what did we learn? What could we have done better?

More importantly, what should we have done prior to this major event that would have made passage through it easier?

In times of boom or very healthy business conditions, business owners tend to relax their marketing efforts. They exude optimism that good times will continue forever. As a Perth signage company that assists with these marketing and branding messages, we often hear businesses say “I don’t need to advertise, I’m busy enough already”, or “I have enough regular clients who feed me work. They’re not going anywhere, and neither am I”, or “I can’t afford to take my van off the road for a day to have graphics applied, as I will lose too much money”.

Well, there is a belief in marketing that when you are busy, that is precisely when you should market hardest. This is to counteract for any unforeseeable blips, or speed bumps along the way (or in the case of COVID, a very big mountain). Life is unpredictable and realistically this preparation or forward planning while you’re busy forms part of your crisis plan, if things go south. Your ability to promote your success when you’re busy will compensate for when you are not.

A few important questions to ask yourself:

What happens when that client who proclaims they don’t need to advertise as they are busy enough already, suddenly ISN’T?

What happens for that business that has enough clients feeding them regular work suddenly DOESN’T?

What happens to the client who couldn’t take their vehicle off the road for some good signage or vehicle graphics and branding suddenly has too many days with no work on?

I can tell you from my 20 years of experience.

They have built up machinery and overhead costs that were based on those good times continuing forever. Equipment and vehicle leases, large staff numbers, and a large building with excessive rent built in. They have built their business on the assumption that the very marketing that made them a success is no longer required. At the hint of a downturn, they turn back to the signage or graphics that helped with their growth and success. But sometimes it is too late. Leaner, more nimble and marketing focussed competitors step in to try to take the space that they once dominated. For the business that cut their marketing spend when times were good, with their in-built overheads, deteriorating cash flow position, and lack of brand awareness and marketing strategy in place, it can take too much money to turn business around.

This is where good signage for buildings or vehicles from Signarama Joondalup can come to the rescue. I have personally had a customer recount to me how they left our premises with a vehicle with new signage and graphics on it, driven about 50 metres and called into a deli to buy a drink. A prospective client saw their graphics and started to chat with them, and they shook hands on a deal worth in excess of $15 000 revenue. Now that is fast and measurable results. The great thing is, those graphics will continue to work for that business owner for the next 5 years, and continue to generate business 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, 365 days per year, even though they paid for themselves many times over in their first 15 minutes out in public.

Signage really is the Silent Salesperson for a business. You pay for it once, and it pays you many times over its lifetime.

So the message and lessons to come out of this COVID event is that even when Perth business owners are busy, that shouldn’t be a signal to stop marketing. Good signage, design and graphics are absolutely essential to ‘smooth out’ the peaks and troughs in business. To keep consistent work flowing in. To insure against potential future disasters like COVID. To soften any future blows.

As we emerge from this major shock, the businesses that emerge faster, stronger and better positioned will be those that have always kept up their signage, branding and marketing.

As the old saying goes, A Business With No Sign, Is a Sign of No Business!

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