Host a fire sale amid COVID-19A fire sale is what retailers would offer after a literal fire damaged their inventory. They’d sell whatever they could deeply discounted and trash the rest. The term is also used during any sale that will help a business avoid complete destruction.

Even though it’s a virus not a fire that is ravaging some businesses’ output these days, it’s important to stay in business to sell what you can and shelve the rest for now.

Know your audience, read the room, connect the dots. Whatever you want to call it, it is time to examine your customers’ situation closely. Use your intuition to pivot in this ongoing season of COVID-19. Offer your customers something they want at a price they can afford, via a safe and hygienic delivery system.


  1. What do your customers want?

Anticipating needs is part of good customer service. Consider that everyone’s connection to their homes has increased. Home offices, home schools, staycations. What can you offer that your customers can use at home? Can you offer them something that their children can do at home, independent of their parents? Do you possess some wisdom you can offer in these times? Can your product be used differently by families in quarantine? Finally, dig deep in your inventory to see what you can rotate out and sell extremely discounted or give away with other sales. Be creative!


  1. What can your customers afford?

Many people have little money to spend, if any at all. Look at who your regular buyers are. Develop family packs of your products or solo-size for your single customers. Price your products within a reasonable range of affordability and adjust your costs accordingly. Think meatloaf, not prime rib. Add some little things that let people know you care. In March and April some deliveries came with a roll of toilet paper–brilliant, even if un-appetizing! Alcohol wipes, masks, or a few coloring sheets for the children lend a sentiment of caring and will be put to immediate use.


  1. Make your delivery system as easy as possible.

If you haven’t figured out a way to deliver your product, you better hurry up! Deliver services using one of many virtual platforms that you should already be using. Distribute tangible products through no-contact (or minimal contact) pick-up, delivery by car, bike, or a shipping service (USPS, UPS, FedEx, and others) remain exceedingly important and will be for a long time. If you can offer in-person service, ensure a clean and safe environment as much as you can.

Team-up with others to deliver your product or service where or near where people can go. Ask grocery stores, banks, and other essential services if you can borrow a few parking stalls for a pop-up sale (following proper germ-free guidelines).

A few weeks ago we discussed no-contact ways to promote your business and suggest using collaborators. Revisit those ideas here to spark some ideas.

At Your Service

You might be thinking that these ideas sound so easy for a restaurant or business that sells widgets. These same techniques will work quite well for a business that sells services. If you usually offer a $5,000 package with multiple deliverables, is there one component of that bundle you can offer at $250.00? Or $250.00 a month?

If you focus on one particular industry that isn’t very busy, can you broaden your offerings to include another related industry? Look above and below the supply chain in the industry you serve to examine the potential. Who else can benefit from your expertise? Can it be adapted to home office working, home learning, managing stress, identifying depression?

Be open and pay attention to your customers. You will discover a new way to do business with COVID-19 in our world.

Leslie A.M. Smith founded McCormick L.A. in 1994 offering public relations and marketing consulting to nonprofits and businesses of all shapes and sizes. Sign-up on her website today to receive helpful insights like this one in your inbox.  See how easy your promotional efforts can be here.  


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