Repositioning Your Small Business In Times of Crisis

April 6, 2020

When your business’ sustainability is at stake, surviving and strategizing is key.

Recently on our Mindshare Monday’s episode, one of our guests reminded everyone that in times of crisis, there are two options. One, you can overcome any obstacle with courage and prove yourself or two, you can cling to the ‘woe is me’ mindset and remain stagnant. Yet, small business owners cannot afford to approach a crisis with the latter mindset as it would cost them all the time, energy, effort, and money spent on realizing their dream.

Due to the current crisis of COVID-19, the consumer landscape has changed drastically, and market trends are difficult to understand and predict. Small business owners are forced to go back to the drawing board and rethink their purpose, their message, their communication strategy, and so much more to drive temporary, if not long-term, growth.

In the marketing world, that’s called brand repositioning. It is shifting your brand’s status in the market to deliver what the consumer is seeking. It is having to pivot and survive the circumstances to stay relevant.

In 2010, former president of ‘Trout & Partners’ and global marketing expert, Jack Trout, published Repositioning: Marketing in An Era of Competition, Change, and Crisis with co-author, Steve Rivkin. In the book, they explained that there are “3 Cs” of business: Competition, Change, and Crisis.

  1. Beat the competition: Challenge your rivals, differentiate your product, increase your value, and stand out in the crowd.
  2. Change with the times: Use the latest technologies, communications, and multimedia resources to connect with your consumers.
  3. Manage a crisis: Cope with everything from profit losses and rising cost to bad press and PR nightmares.

Ten years later during a pandemic, the concepts still apply and remain relevant.

Businesses must help their consumers unlearn the previous brand positioning, which is why generally, brand repositioning requires a significant amount of time and financial resources. Still, with little tweaks to the business strategy and accurate analysis of the market, a crisis can become an opportunity. Here are some of the best practices of brand repositioning that will yield the best results.

Remember Your Purpose

As cliché as it sounds, remember why you started. Those who remember why they started on this journey in the first place can navigate the chaos seamlessly. What is your mission? What are your values?

Leverage your purpose to create a business strategy that would not have existed pre-crisis.

Listen to Your Customers

Understand what your customers want and need at the moment. Listen to what they are asking from you and what they are saying about you. If you don’t know, conduct independent market research on your customers.

Deliver What You’ve Promised

You’ve just announced your new strategy to your audience. Great. What are the next steps to deliver on what you promised? Adjust your goals, your finances, your plans, your social platforms, and anything else that will be affected by the new positioning.

Craft Your Message

Carefully craft and communicate your new positioning in a consistent manner. It may be different from what you’ve articulated before to your audience, but emphasize your newly crafted products, packaging, delivery method, etc.

Your customers won’t get the message if you don’t send it.

Final Thoughts

Achieving sustainable growth through repositioning tactics and strategies is the goal. For example, a business that only offered in-person services before could create an online storefront. So, the question is– will you continue to enforce and practice your new strategies and tactics, or is it temporary?

If small business owners can capitalize on this crisis now, it can lead to different prospects– an entirely new business model or a whole new business pathway. It is up to them to either persist or fail.


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