Thailand has already faced four waves of COVID-19 outbreaks. People feel differently about each of the waves, especially for those in business.
During the first wave of the outbreaks, many entrepreneurs felt it was a “challenge” and saw new business opportunities or creative business channels. When the second wave hit, many people began to “panic”, but once they accepted the situation, they marched on. When the third wave came, many people began to break into “cold sweat”. Money started to run out and they didn’t know what to do next. And before they could find any solutions, the fourth wave hit violently and swiftly, making many entrepreneurs feel “exhausted” and many “raised the white flag” and gave up announcing the closure of their business legacy permanently, like what’s been reported in the news.
“We’ve already surfed four waves and we must not run out of energy. Let’s keep going. Hold on a little longer, and look at the countries that the pandemic has begun to subside, and you’ll see the light at the end of the tunnel,” said Asst. Prof. Dr. Ake Pattaratanakun, Vice President, Corporate Communications, Brand Management, and Alumni Relations, Chulalongkorn University to encourage entrepreneurs through the program “Biz Genius” episode “What businesses should not do during the fourth wave of COVID-19″ on Chula radio 101.5 FM recently.
In a sluggish economy, many entrepreneurs invest more into the business, devise different competitive strategies which often turn out to be a trap that could lead their business into the abyss. Asst. Prof. Dr. Ake, therefore, pointed out the “3Ps” of business taboos for entrepreneurs to avoid if they want to sail through the fourth wave of the COVID-19 crisis until they see the blue sky after the rain.
Price – Don’t compete only on price-cutting if you do not want to go down quickly
When business seems to have reached a dead-end, a popular solution that many entrepreneurs turn to is a price war, which is the most intense marketing weapon. But during such a crisis, Asst. Prof. Dr. Ake, Chair of the Master in Branding and Marketing (MBM) English Program cautioned entrepreneurs “not to focus on just the price.”
“No matter how fiercely the competitors would cut prices, we should not only focus on that and engage in the price war with them, because we can be hurt. Don’t get trapped in the price war because the price is not all of the marketing mixes.”
There are other marketing mixes that we can consider using during the COVID-19 crisis, Prof. Dr. Ake detailed the 7Ps for marketing for the service industry, namely products and services (Product), price (Price), distribution channels (Place), marketing promotions (Promotion), customer service personnel (People), process (Process), and physical elements that promote experience among target groups (Physical evidence).
“If not the price, we can use other marketing mixes, for example, maybe give free stuff, improve the process, or the physical appearance like photo spots that are appealing to customers, etc. Suppose we open a botox injection clinic, instead of competing by price undercutting, we may do a promotion for brides, by keeping the same price, but give additional value to the product with a clear target group,” Asst. Prof. Dr. Ake gave an example of using strategies other than price.
Postponement – Don’t take the money first and service later and risk losing customers
Many businesses have started using a method called Postponement, such as offering learning courses, beauty courses, or vouchers for service at an appealing price to lure customers to pay upfront and use the service later.
“When we need cash flow, we use this method to bring in customers’ money first. But when the situation gets better, or as time passes, when customers come to use the service, many entrepreneurs do not feel like serving, because these customers buy courses at a cheap price. We want to get more customers who pay at regular price. When we do not feel like giving full service, customers are dissatisfied, feel cheated, and may even write bad reviews on social media, and ruin everything,” Asst. Prof. Dr. Ake reflected on the stories that happened with many businesses in the past.
“This method should be used with caution. If possible, it is better to avoid using this strategy because, in the end, entrepreneurs often can’t cope when customers come to redeem the cheap packages when the business is open as usual.” Asst. Prof. Dr. Ake warned.
Pseudo – Don’t break the law
Many businesses are affected by government measures to contain the outbreaks, such as the closure of properties, limit the number of customers, etc. The longer the pandemic and the lockdown last, many people start to feel helpless and choose to break the law. For example, spas secretly open the back door to customers, liquor stores sell alcohol in opaque bottles, or restaurants secretly open.
“Please don’t do this,” Asst. Prof. Dr. Ake urged. “ Apart from severe penalties for law violation, businesses risk losing reputation and social responsibility. Most business operators that violate the law will be arrested, and suffer a bad reputation. It is not worth it. Don’t think that it’s a secret between us and the customers, and it will be fine. Most of the people who report to the police are not customers but their own competitors. This is what happens all the time.”
No matter how hard it is to do business during COVID-19, we should not lead the business into a “3Ps trap”. Should any entrepreneur have already gone down that path, then get out of there as quickly as possible.
“These are challenging times. Let us think of other strategies to attract consumers to be used with the 7P marketing mix to help us consider all aspects of doing the business. I believe that there will be light at the end of the tunnel soon,” Asst. Prof. Dr. Ake concluded with words of encouragement.
Listen to “What Businesses Shouldn’t Do During the Fourth Wave of COVID-19” by Asst. Prof. Dr. Ake Pattaratanakun on “Biz Genius” Program at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z5SFjx0wpG0.
You can follow, watch and listen to good tips for doing business by the marketing guru regularly on “Biz Genius” live every Monday, 16.30-17.00 On YouTube: CU Radio Channel.