Your customers are never coming back. Yes, the sun will come out. The bans will be lifted. Business will resume. But things will never be the way they were before. Each of us is changed. Our businesses are changed. Given that, there is no chance that your old offerings are going to meet the needs, hopes and desires of your changed customers without changes. Trying to sell your old offerings to the customers you had is a recipe for disaster. Instead, take a marketing, puzzle-solving approach to rebooting your business – creating, delivering, and communicating new offerings.

Those approaching problems with a marketing perspective, start with potential customers’ needs, hopes and desires and then figure out ways to create, deliver, and communicate offerings that satisfy those potential customers.

This is different than those approaching problems with a sales perspective, who start with existing offerings and figure out how to find, serve, and satisfy the most appropriate customers for those offerings.

And, this is why the most successful organizations are going to tackle marketing first, then sales as part of rebooting their businesses post COVID-19.

Create new offerings

Relook at your SWOT with fresh, post-COVID eyes. Take a hard look at your internal strengths and weaknesses, being honest with yourself about what you’re good at and not so good at. Then scan the new world for opportunities and threats.

The magic in this exercise is much as it always was:

  • Crossing internal strengths and external opportunities to yield key leverage points.
  • Crossing internal weaknesses and external threats to yield business issues.

What’s different is the sudden jump-shift in opportunities and threats. If the new threats have not already put you out of business, shore up your weaknesses to survive. Then turn your attention to the new opportunities. Those will prompt your new offerings.

Dig deep to understand changes in potential customers’ needs, hopes and desires. If you’ve got strengths that allow you to satisfy those, you’re off to the races. In the best of all cases, this will involve repositioning your current offerings to do that. Second prize would be modifying your current offerings appropriately. Third prize would be creating entirely new offerings based on your strengths.

In any case, the point is to start by understanding the changes in the world and then figuring out how you can best adapt to those changes.

Deliver those offerings

The world’s supply chains broke. All of a sudden, delivery is dramatically harder than anyone ever imagined. So, not only do you have to figure out how to create new offerings for changed customers, you have to figure out how to pull them together and get them to those customers.

The main point here is to make sure you can deliver before you promise to deliver.

  • Make sure you have a reliable source for all your inputs.
  • Make sure you can produce physical products.
  • Make sure you can deliver your products and services – in the way your customers want them delivered. In particular, make sure you’ve got a way to deliver services virtually. The shift from physical to virtual is never going to swing all the way back.
  • Make sure you can provide after-sale services at the appropriate level either physically or virtually.

Communicate your offerings

Once you’ve created and ensured you can deliver your new offerings, turn your attention to selling. I’m not in any way suggesting selling is bad. It just needs to follow the first two marketing steps.

Every sales funnel there ever was is a variation of AIDA – Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action.

Awareness is the price of entry into the funnel. Can’t have a conversation with someone that doesn’t know you exist. Start by going broad, investing minimal time and money to reach a wide range of potential prospects.

Interest. Here’s where your conversations start. Once you know someone has a problem you can solve, and they are aware of you and your offerings, you can share information to start to figure out if your offerings are best to solve their problems.

Desire. Interest, like objectives, is more general. Desire, like goals, is specific. Desire kicks in when your prospects realize that your offerings are specifically right for them. Your puzzle pieces fit together.

Action. Having made the sale conceptually, close it and deliver.

Click here for a list of my Forbes articles (of which this is #637) and a summary of my book on executive onboarding: The New Leader’s 100-Day Action Plan.