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Beating the Brexit Business Blues

“If you are going through hell, keep going.”
— Winston Churchill

While Winston Churchill was instrumental in building the European Union, the wartime leader also has much to teach us about leaving it behind.

Today, Brexit is a given. Britain will leave the EU. In the meantime, however, the British public have decided it’s ‘business as usual’ and treated the news with a (relatively) stiff upper lip.

Three-quarters believe their finances will remain unaffected by the vote, and despite an initial fall the economy hasn’t significantly slowed. Accounting firm BDO declared Brexit ‘a blip’, while homebuilders Taylor Wimpey have reported trade figures in line with forecasts.

So far, so good. But not for long. ‘Business as usual’ represents dangerous short-term thinking. Consumer confidence may have recovered, but the real changes forced by Article 50 – new trade agreements, new tariffs, and new regulations – have yet to rear their head.

We don’t know exactly what we’ll be dealing with, but we do know when we’ll be dealing with it. Between now and the New Year, businesses need to batten the hatches and start preparing to do the best business they can. Or else.

Do your best

A look back at the survivors of past periods of economic uncertainty – the Rothschilds, Rockefellers and Ryanairs – delivers a salient lesson for businesses heading towards turbulent conditions. Do the best business you can. Cut expenditure, increase income, accumulate cash, and focus on the practicalities: that means branding, negotiation, sales and marketing.

This doesn’t have to involve making huge changes to your daily activity. Instead, it’s about making small, key changes with high impact: finding the sticking points in your current business model and resolving them.

That means auditing. Identify where your revenue and custom are coming from (and where you might risk losing them). Find out how businesses in your sector are likely to be affected by Brexit. Know your best customers and understand what you’re doing that keeps them coming back; then be ready to protect that core competency. Safeguarding the ROI of business activity has never been more important. It’s time to spot the areas where you can make cuts, and those where cash flow can be sped up.

Take a health check

If you read the word ‘audit’ and thought ‘time-consuming deep overhaul of the entire business’ – you’re creating barriers before you even get started. Relax: Start simple. Our Marketing 360 Healthcheck divides your business into eight priority areas. Each of these loosely corresponds to a step in the customer journey and an area of your business’ operations. Working through all eight areas will throw light on the aspects of your marketing that need improving, and which ones are ticking along nicely thank you.

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  • In uncertain times, establishing your brand is essential to broadcast the confidence and optimism customers will respond to, boosting lead generation.
  • When opportunities appear to be lacking, your sales process will need to change. Focus should be put on the key decision makers controlling the purse strings more tightly than usual.
  • When new leads are harder to come by, customer retention increases in importance. Find out why buyers like you, and put their reason at the front and centre of your marketing.
  • Communication tools, whether internal or external, need to be as efficient, timely and as personable as possible. People want to be reassured, but they don’t want to be overburdened.
  • Implementation of any strategy needs to be more confident and assured than previously. With business risk being – arguably – higher than before, testing and retesting marketing and sales campaigns is essential.
  • Reporting must, more than ever, focus on the bottom line. There’s no point in sticking to a strategy that’s not delivering. If your cost per acquisition is high but bearable, it needs to be brought down in case your circumstances change.
  • There are only three ways to improve profits: by selling to more people, selling at a higher price or reducing costs. Brexit offers an ideal opportunity for business owners to go back to basics and reexamine their model.

The Brexit challenge

“One ought never to turn one’s back on a threatened danger and try to run away from it. If you do that, you will double the danger. But if you meet it promptly and without flinching, you will reduce the danger by half.”
— Winston Churchill

Preparing for Brexit isn’t about second-guessing the political process, trying to predict what will happen: it’s about being prepared for whatever happens. To survive Article 50, our businesses need to become as resilient, as agile and as thrifty as possible – to do the best business we can.

Are you doing the best business you can? Take a free Marketing 360 healthcheck and find your key changes.