The economic havoc wrought by COVID-19 has been sudden, swift, and deep. Entire business sectors have been put on hold, while others have been forced to adapt to constantly changing conditions. In the early days of the pandemic, the important thing was to keep a business afloat, but now a post-COVID-19 future is visible on the horizon.

However, business as usual across most sectors is unlikely to return to pre-pandemic conditions. The lingering effects of COVID-19 will last for several years at least, if not indefinitely. To thrive, a business needs to adapt to the changing environment and work to make the most of new opportunities rather than just focusing on survival. Here are five smart ways of doing exactly that:

1) Review the financial situation in detail

For most businesses, taking a close look at the last year’s finances might not be a pleasant activity, but it’s an essential one. Before you can move beyond COVID-19, you need to know in detail how the pandemic has affected your SMB.

Which parts of the business have held up reasonably well? Which ones have tanked and look beyond saving? Which parts of expenditure are no longer supporting the bottom line?

Essentially, you need to take a fresh look at your entire business plan from the ground up, and see which parts are no longer relevant, and which others can become more central in the future.

2) Diversify suppliers for post-pandemic business

Your main objective for the coming months and years may be to restore lost revenue through increased sales. However, it’s important not to overlook the other side of the equation. Examining your supplier base and diversifying if necessary could be essential for your SMB’s survival. In these uncertain times, you can’t rely on a single supplier weathering the storm, so it’s important to have alternatives ready to go.

Diversifying will not only protect you if your main supplier fails—it’ll also put you in a better position to handle an unexpectedly strong upturn in business when demand returns.

3) Step up sales data analysis

Your historical sales data will be invaluable in helping you pivot toward the post-COVID-19 marketplace. Compare the last year’s channel data to the years you’ve had before, and see precisely what’s changed. Your usual channels may no longer be the most profitable, even if they’re still driving sales. What’s more, you may find that previously second- or third-tier channels are now among the best performers, giving you the chance to scale up in areas with the most impact.

While data analysis like this has always been vital, as the business world emerges from COVID’s shadow it takes on even greater importance. When situations change so quickly, and everyone is in the dark together, the businesses that can use data most quickly and effectively will have a strong advantage. If data analysis was once a long-term, relatively infrequent project, it now needs to be placed firmly front and center.

4) Provide a more accommodating customer experience

Social distancing forced many businesses to find innovative ways to service their customers. Restaurants became delivery services or provided menu plans and ingredients to make full meals at home. Car dealerships launched at-home test drive services to reduce the need for showroom visits. The list goes on.

And while these pivots may have been developed as survival measures, it’s likely that some level of distancing will be a feature of business for the next few years. How can your SMB handle this? How can you deliver your services in a way that customers will find convenient and reassuring?

The answers will be different for every SMB in every sector, but a good way to find out what your customers need is simply to ask them, and then develop a compelling way to deliver what they’re looking for.

5) Focus on digital and content marketing

No matter how your service needs to adapt, the reduction of face-to-face business means that digital marketing will become even more dominant than before. However, you don’t necessarily need to spend a fortune on online advertising, where your SMB budget can be dwarfed by bigger players.

Content marketing is an effective—and cost-effective—way for small businesses to reach new and existing customers, whether it’s used to beef up your website, sustain your social media presence, or develop an email newsletter. Customers are spending more time than ever online, for both professional and personal purposes, and great content gives your SMB a way to mesh into this new outlook.

Related reading: How to Start and Grow an Effective Email Newsletter

When it’s approached the right way, content marketing can:

– Connect with customers and show them how your product or service will meet their needs.

– Build your SMB’s reputation for quality and reliability by demonstrating expertise in your niche.

– Build loyalty and repeat business through ongoing interaction.

Related reading: Five Reasons Why Ecommerce Companies Need Blog Content to Succeed

At Constant Content we understand the value content marketing can bring to your SMB, and we can supply the bespoke or ready-made content you need to thrive as the COVID-19 threat recedes.

No one knows precisely where the business chips will fall as the world adjusts to post-pandemic realities, but putting your SMB’s marketing and customer relations on an agile digital footing will help you make the most of the opportunities that are sure to follow.