Moving your business online post Covid-19

In times such as these, when everything is so uncertain, there’s no doubting how challenging it is for so many businesses. From small to medium to very large, every business is trying to adjust to what has now become the “new norm”.  I, for one, have been extremely impressed with the speed at which so many organisations have adjusted. And that said, I’m speaking with folks who are finding it difficult to adjust too. In broad terms though, there are common themes, like the following:

  • How can I bring more of my business online?
  • Can I deliver products/services direct to end customers online?
  • How do I promote my business better online?
  • How could/should I use this time when my business is physically closed?

Here are some of my thoughts about the questions above

How to bring your business online?

Many businesses I talk to have a website, but they’re not sure it’s working hard enough. Perhaps it’s out of date, or perhaps it’s just a static one or two page presence. This is the time to really think hard about what your website could/should be able to do to support your business. Some key questions to ask yourself about your website:

  • If a new customer comes to your website – is it easy to understand what you offer, immediately (in less than 3 seconds)?
  • Is there useful information to help someone to understand what’s unique about you, compared to your competitors?
  • Is there information to help a prospective customer to trust you?
  • Are there interesting ways people can get a sneak peak of your products or services?
  • Are you giving people a clear call to action to buy, or get in touch, or download something useful.

Can I deliver products/services to customers and clients online?

Arguably this can be a tricky one to answer, but I believe the businesses who are doing well post-Covid-19 are those who are re-framing the question – what is the best way to deliver value to our customers without physical contact?

This can mean different things depending on the business model, but can include:

  • Taking orders and payment online, and delivering with little or no contact – this model is keeping many restaurants and takeaways in business.
  • Changing who we sell to  – perhaps sell to end customer instead of selling into a retail/hospitality sector which is not trading. This also involves marketing to a completely new audience, which takes some getting used to.
  • Delivering services online – it’s amazing how quickly every school around the world has had to pivot to delivering its education programs online. I’ve pivoted all my training to be able to be delivered online now too, not rocket science but critical to help clients, and keep the business afloat.
  • Changing the product with some modification to address a new need – have you seen the example of Mor Gin distillery who pivoted to making hand sanitiser!

So the question becomes whether your product or service can be used in new or existing ways, and can they be delivered in new ways?

How to I better promote my business online?

Well this is a much longer question, to be honest! I have a 12 week course on how to do this, so it’s going to be tricky to summarise it here. That being said, people are absolutely spending more time online than ever. They’re spending more time on their social networks than ever. So the opportunity for your business to be part of that conversation is absolutely ripe.

Here’s the thing, you need to make sure to reflect your business in terms of the new reality. So when you’re thinking about what to put on Social Media – consider the mindset of your target audience. How can you help, advise, motivate, educate them? Blindly selling products and services with the pretence that the world has not changed is a futile exercise. You need to share how you’re evolving, and innovating. Show how you’re facilitating your loyal customers and followers to continue to do business with you, in this new world we find ourselves in.

Publishing Tips for Social Media

  • Plan out your social content – consider what would be meaningful, helpful, useful for your community.
  • Don’t forget to use video – all the social platforms love video content. There’s never been a better time to record videos from your home, using your smartphone. If it’s OK for our National Broadcaster to be broadcasting from a garden shed (!) , it’s absolutely fine to be recording from your home office.
  • Use Livestreaming to get even more reach and engagement on your social platforms.
  • Vary your content – don’t make it too sales-y, try to incorporate storytelling, ideally about humans! (More on that here)

How can I use this time while my business is physically closed?

For many businesses, we’re so busy working IN the business (keeping customers and clients happy), it can be hard to find time to work ON the business. Well, there has genuinely never been a better time for you to do all those things you’ve been putting off, that will grow the business in the future. All those ideas you never quite get around to putting into action. Some suggestions might be:

  • Work on the website (whether it’s a complete overhaul, or writing some new blog posts!)
  • Improve your activity on social media (e.g. polish up the profile/page and create & plan new content consistently)
  • Reach out to people for a long overdue virtual coffee – don’t forget to keep the virtual networks alive!
  • What about that new product/service you’ve considered, but not got around to.
  • What about that training or upskilling you were thinking of, but never have time for….

Supports available:

I’m delighted to be associated with many organisations who are helping businesses and entrepreneurs to answer these questions, including the Local Enterprise Offices, who have brought in a broad range of measures to help businesses through this Covid-19 crisis, including Business Continuity Vouchers, Mentoring, Online Training, Trading Online Vouchers & much much more.

There are lots of things we can do to stay positive, and stay moving forward. Seek help and you will find it.

Keep the faith – This too shall pass.