4 Business challenges SMEs are facing during COVID-19
Updated: Nov 3, 2020
How has your business changed since the outbreak? Chances are, you still can’t say! Despite being a new, cutting-edge agency, we too have had many challenges thrown our way due to COVID-19. We’re still in full adaptation. However, for an insight into making the most of your marketing investments during COVID-19, see A hybrid digital solution for COVID-19 challenged companies.
We are living in a strange world right now. Nobody knows how society is evolving nor how everything will be after the virus is contained. How can you decide something that will affect the future when the future has never been harder to predict? How can you grow in times where competition is so quickly multiplied?
No matter the pre-COVID situation, SMEs are facing similar struggles at the moment. We have compiled some of the most prominent challenges SMEs are experiencing right now:
1. Remote resource management
Employing new people to your team can be a risky and daunting task. Using a ‘guessing game’ to recruit somebody comes at a high cost, especially when the health of your employees is at stake.
Hiring new employees now means training and on-boarding them from a distance, remotely making them work together with your existing team, gaining trust, and making them part of your culture. This in itself is quite a challenge, not to mention the chance that your new employee might drop out due to the risk of COVID-19 contamination.
Remote project management is a skill apart, that is highly adopted on digital products like websites, applications and other software development. In our agency, offshoring is not only a familiar activity, but often a crucial competitive advantage for us and our clients.
2. Operational challenges
Companies often try to cut costs by having people take on marketing internally, as a side-activity, without putting a marketing system or any established processes in place. As a result, properly establishing marketing strategies is more likely to be neglected; the attention turns to solving other priorities.
However, marketing as an activity should be central to each company, especially during these times. Your customers expect you to be present online, to communicate, and to re-assure them of your engagement and service continuity.
More than ever before you now have the opportunity to listen and respond to your customers’ needs. In less chaotic times, there is often an issue in the fact that many companies don’t set up such ‘listening pods’ online. Important information from sales, for example, then gets lost before getting to the marketing team or person responsible for translating it into strategies, tactics or even content.
Having a marketing manager doesn’t mean that you have a working or efficient marketing system. A marketing system is a set of processes, procedures, and internal and external communication flows and channels that are optimally integrated and in line with the strategy and goals of the company.
This is what we aim to set up every time we work for a client. For example, the system of a marketing campaign is set up in the company so that it can be integrated with the system of reporting and internal communication.
3. Suboptimal resource capacity
Companies often already have a lot of talent internally. The problem is that these individuals are usually overloaded with projects, administration, day-to-days, meetings, training, etc.
This creates a problem for change, or new ideas and projects, as they are often associated with more work. What you then get are employees who are spread too thin, and therefore cannot optimally realise certain projects.
In addition, the skills needed today for an excellent market presence are diverse, often expert-specific, and quite probably not always within arm’s reach for these companies. However, as an agency, we’ve already built a pool of expertise, working methodologies, service models, partners, and freelancers to activate as needed.
4. The prioritisation paradox
Everyone’s agendas flipped in a matter of days during the breakout of COVID-19. Entire marketing plans and investments went down the drain.
What first seemed a priority was probably just a ‘nice-to-have’ in the aftermath of the lockdown. Digitalisation perhaps came at the forefront, but only after the first line of sales and so on.
Flexibility of projects and re-allocation of resources are important here. Marketing needs to be re-oriented towards the new initiatives and priorities, so that issues at hand can be solved as fast as possible. These issues being the same as always: communication with your clients, building trust, creating online availability, and speed of service through digital channels.
Despite this challenging time being tough, it welcomes new opportunities. In times of uncertainty, companies are required to be more flexible and agile. It makes more sense if we adapt our services to these emerging needs. For more information on how to do this, see A hybrid digital solution for COVID-19 challenged companies.
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