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The next 6 weeks may decide how well your business does in 2021. Here’s what you can do about it.

1008 hours is 42 days is 6 weeks… is 2 paydays… Over the last 12 months we’ve all had to change our buying habits. There have been businesses that have been big beneficiaries and there have been businesses that have had to fight every single step of the way. For example, Durex reported a drop in sales at the start of lockdown, whilst Lovehoney found itself 150-200 per cent up in online sales across every territory around the world against the same time last year within 72 hours of each national lockdown being announced. If your business was a beneficiary, you want to keep benefiting. But if your business was a fighter, you’re probably looking forward to a few easier months of trading. And the next two paydays could dictate which way you go. The first payday will be a celebration – it will represent release – people will go and do the things they haven’t been able to do for twelve months. 1 -On-trade beer sales up – off-trade beer sales down. 2 - Gym memberships up – home gym equipment down. 3 - Condom sales up – sex toy sales down. The second payday will be much more informative – once the giddiness has disappeared and people go about a new normal life the simple question is this – are their buying habits going to be more similar to January 2020, or January 2021? 1 - The pub was nice, but it’s very crowded and I’d forgotten how expensive it was! I can get a month’s worth of craft beer with my lockdown beer subscription for the price of a round! 2 - The gym is filled with sweaty fit people who make me feel bad about my body. 3 – I’m off to buy batteries. And that is why this next 6 weeks matters to you and your business. In the next six weeks those ‘lockdown beneficiaries’ have to give customers a reason not to abandon them now there is more choice, and the ‘lockdown fighters’ have to convince customers they couldn’t service during lockdown to come back. And there are many many new variables. People will be working in new ways – a mix of home and office? All home? All office? The places that drew the consumers to your area may have gone during the lockdown. On an anecdotal note when I grew up in rural Rutland a visit to Peterborough was considered a wondrous outing to a futuristic city. They even had electric street lights! But the beating heart of Queensgate (an archetypal early 80s shopping mall in the middle of the city) was always John Lewis. It dominated the entire centre. Sadly it is one of the John Lewis stores that is closing. I do not know what will happen to the centre of Peterborough, but if I had a business in the area… I’d be concerned. Judging by the comments on John Lewis adverts on Instagram, every area that has lost their John Lewis is feeling similar levels of concern. Examples of this will be happening all across the country – the things that brought people to your area have changed – the number of times they come into the town/city to work has changed – the way they purchase/engage/travel etc. have all changed. Some will go back to how it was, some will not. And that is where we come in. You knew we would. This isn’t a public service broadcast. I don’t even own a tie. Our job isn’t just to make the pretty things. Our job is to find the pinch points – to identify the barriers to entry and to find the reasons to believe. We’re problem solvers. What could be the reason someone is not considering you, what is the thing that would put them off that wouldn’t have put them off in the past? Here’s a very simple example – I’m guessing that one of the biggest searches for venues, shops, locations, holiday cottages, pubs and taxi services in the next twelve months will be: “Dog friendly” Dog sales have spiked massively during lockdown, especially among millennials. (Over one third (35%) of young adults (age 24-35) have already embarked on lives as new pet owners and 2.1m (19%) collected a new pet in lockdown. Source: PFMA) In many cases the dogs haven’t really been left alone for long. It is all new to the owners. When they go somewhere, they’re bringing Rex. Getting out in front of something like that may seem silly, but it is the kind of thing that matters. It may soon be standard that any venue that caters to the millennial group must be dog accessible or face ruin – the first major store to offer a dog creche is going to be onto a winner. Communicate the solution to match the perceived need of your audience. It might be the difference between making the trip into town and ordering from your online competitor. And once they go somewhere else, they may well not come back. Always ask how you can communicate the solution before the audience have asked themselves the question. If you don’t have a targeted comms strategy in place for the next 6 weeks, you need to get one. And you need to get one now. Because this is going to get brutal – the beneficiaries can’t afford to let go of what they’ve got, and the fighters can’t afford to let them keep it. Get in touch. We’re on your side, and because we’re independent we understand that beneficiary or fighter, the last year hasn’t been a cakewalk for anybody. All the best, Strawman

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