It’s no secret that COVID-19 has affected everyone in some way or another. Parents have become teachers, non-essential workers are turning the dining room into an office and businesses are having to rethink how they can go digital to accommodate a new business model.
For businesses that rely on physical stores and office locations, the future in a socially distant world can look uncertain. It may be time to think about how you can adapt to a new digital world so that your company can grow and thrive. Here are some thoughts and advice to guide you in reviewing your business model.
- Assess the short and long-term impact of COVID-19 on your business.
Before you make any big decisions, it is best to first evaluate how the pandemic has affected your revenue stream.
Short-term impact: Many businesses are dependent on human interaction and don’t have a way to continue the same level of service digitally. From February to now, has your revenue taken a hit? If you had to close for a significant amount of time, let workers go and didn’t have a way to continue your business online then your revenue stream will look drastically different compared to the same months the previous year.
Were you able to open back up, but have tighter restrictions that have had an effect on revenue? While some effects will only last short-term, it is important to identify which ones could turn into long-term. You might have decided to ride out the pandemic and open up like normal when it is over, but the rising number of cases around the world has shown that businesses must tackle these hardships when they first arise because the old way of business just won’t cut it.
Long-term impact: With second waves hitting the world, the pandemic is certainly not over. What is the impact long-term that it will have on your business? Because this is something that everyone is dealing with, spending is down and people are trying to find ways to do most things without leaving their house.
If your business thrives on face-to-face interactions, then long-term could be daunting for you to imagine. If you know that something needs to change then you should start thinking about the solution sooner rather than later. One question to ask your business is: How do I generate revenue without the customer physically present? You are uniquely equipped to solve a problem, you just have to figure out what that problem is, or commit to finding additional ways of solving that same problem. If you can find an answer to that question, you will be able to sustain business long-term.
2. Assess how COVID has affected your customers.
One thing to understand is that you and your customers are facing similar problems. If you are having difficulties selling your product, then your customers are having difficulties buying it. Not only are unemployment rates at record highs, but people are putting more thought into what purchases are necessities.
Once you put yourself in the mindset of your customer, you will have a better understanding of what they need and want during these difficult times. You will figure out the best ways to market to them and what products are the right fit to sell.
For example, if you are a car dealership many of your clients may not feel comfortable going out to test drive cars. You could evaluate your customers and come up with a solution: personal car sales concierge. Instead of your customer going all around town trying to find their perfect car, you may take on the hard work of test driving, negotiating a price, and delivering the car to your customer. These innovative ideas are all dependent on the needs of your specific customers. Take the time to talk to them and come up with a solid solution.
3. Develop a strong digital presence with the resources you already have.
If you already have a website and dedicated social media presence, then you are already ahead of the game! Can you use those tools to elevate the services you offer to your customers from home? Do you need to develop another digital tool to best serve your customers?
If you have a strong customer base, they will not leave you. They still want to support you and use your services, but they want to make sure they are safe as they do so. For example, college students still want to receive a high quality of education, but meeting with 100 other students in a lecture hall is not feasible at this time. Colleges have to reevaluate how they offer online classes so that students still receive the same quality of education from home.
If you have no digital presence, then there has never been a better time to develop a social media following. With most of the world stuck at home, the internet has become a place more than ever to stay connected and shop for everyday needs. Working with an agency to discover your digital brand and help craft your pages can be extremely helpful, but jumping in and doing the work yourself will automatically be a benefit for your business.
4. Develop a new digital platform to better serve your customers.
If selling your product or service directly from your website or social media pages is not working, perhaps you have considered developing a new digital platform to meet your needs. This is where a development team comes in. They can assess your needs and best advise you on how to maximize your revenue by going digital through the creation of an app, software, or other digital tools.
Good online tools can open up new markets. They can allow you to reach new customers from around the world and reduce costs that a physical location can bring. People are looking for ways to keep their workforce employed and to keep profits high. Developing a new product could help you through these difficult times and also be a new resource your business could use in the future.
Define what are the gifts and skills of your team, the benefits your products and services offer, and what desires your customers have. Those same components can be used to shape a new digital platform to service new or existing customers. To go digital is to understand how your business is going to transform outside of your normal mode of operations.
5. Reevaluate how you communicate to your customers
A solid digital marketing plan is key in a COVID and post-COVID world. How can you continue to efficiently communicate with your customers when you now rarely have the opportunity to see them in person?
Not only is having a strong social media presence important, but you have to lead your customers and future customers through a digital sales funnel. Traditional ways of marketing are even harder during a pandemic (billboards, print advertisement, word of mouth) because interactions and physical media are limited. Your sales funnel needs to include email marketing, social media, lead generators and so much more.
How can you be creative in marketing your product or service? Take advantage of the fact that more people than ever are online. Reach out to your customers for feedback on the best way to market to them.
Facebook marketing is a great, inexpensive way to find customers and let them know that you can solve the problem they have. You are easily able to target specific groups of people based on multiple characteristics. During the process, you might realize that your online target group is different than customers who would come into your physical location.
Be creative and talk with an expert!
If you’ve taken the time to read our article, you must be looking for ways to rethink your business model because of the COVID-19 crisis. There is not a one-size-fits-all plan for going digital or increasing your digital presence that will work for every business. We encourage you to be creative and find what works best for targeting your specific customers.
Working with an agency to build a digital product that will help grow your business is another great idea. We invite you to schedule a free Discovery Session with our agency so we can discuss your brand and ways to take it digital. Contact us today!