At the end of 2019, lots of businesses, us included, were looking forward to a new year and a new start. Making big plans to push forward during the course of 2020 and beyond!

Fast forward to April 2020 and we’re all staying safe indoors because of a global pandemic, countless numbers of businesses have had to close down and their employees furloughed. Who even knew what furlough was just a few months ago?

Those businesses that haven’t closed have had to adapt to this new 'normal' that we find ourselves in. Pubs and restaurants are now offering takeaway only services. Market traders are selling their fruit and veg online and offering delivery. Photographers offering courses online whilst they can’t go out and shoot. Videographers offering editing services with existing footage. All of this in a world where being online is not only useful but essential.

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube & TikTok are all reporting huge increases in usage. The share price of Zoom has skyrocketed up from $62 in October 2019 to a peak of $159 in March 2020 as more and more businesses communicate with clients and colleagues via video call.

It may sound a bit doom and gloom but it is fair to say that it is adapt and survive, or close for good.

But how can you adapt?

Most businesses can adapt in some way or another. Whether that be offering your existing service in a new way, or adding a new product or service to your range that can be delivered safely.

The way in which you adapt will be unique for every company and therefore no single solution will cover everyone but here are a few ideas from us.

Get online

It may sound like an obvious place to start but you would be amazed at how many businesses still don’t have an online presence of any kind.

In an ideal world, every company should have a recognisable website and an account on multiple social media platforms, preferably the ones where your customers spend their time. They should be branded with your company name and logo so people can find you easily. Put your contact details on there as well so anyone can get in touch.

We get it, budgets are potentially quite tight at the moment but you can get a “good enough” website for free these days. Coming from a web development company this is rare advice, we usually avoid these services at all costs because of their quality in the long run but as a last resort and in desperate times, something is better than nothing! A website doesn’t have to cost the earth though, get in touch with us to have a chat and we’ll give you the best advice we can.

If you already have an online presence then make sure it is up to date. Check the branding, contact details and your product/service details to make sure they are accurate.

Offering online products and services

If you didn’t already sell your products or services online then consider adding eCommerce functionality to your website and promote that through social media.

With an increased number of people sitting at home during the day, more and more are turning to their phones, tablets and laptops rather than facing a trip to the shops. People are looking for the essentials as well as luxury items to help brighten their quarantine period so get your name out there in front of them.

A note on delivery

Consider the delivery of your products. If you are able to send the items via the Royal Mail or another courier then that is the best option as they are already practising non-contact deliveries. If your product needs specialist installation then communicate with your customer to see if social distancing can be practised but if not assure them that they will be on a priority list for when the lockdown is lifted to carry out the installation.

Getting the word out there

There is currently a lot more happening on the marketing front. You will no doubt have been inundated with emails from companies you used ages ago telling you how they are responding to the COVID-19 situation, and there had been a noticeable amount of traffic and posts from people and businesses on social media as well.

The top-level of advice is to not stop your marketing work. It may need changing or adapting to be sensitive to the coronavirus, but don’t stop. With so many people online and many looking to support small businesses, stopping would be crazy. If anything you should be upping your marketing budget.

Where possible try to add value to your message. Don’t just come out with “sell, sell, sell” messages, these will wear thin with audiences very quickly. Give advice and help others out where you can as that will be remembered for the right reasons.

Sticking to the usual rules of not overwhelming or spam your feed, posting consistently not sporadically and keeping content relevant to your business will stand you in good stead.

If you are stuck for ideas then please do contact us for some help and advice.

Working remotely

What if you are one of those businesses that can’t sell online? Maybe your office has had to close but it is business as usual. Our question to you is how have you and your colleagues found the transition from working in an office to having a team spread around the country?

Keeping up the company culture is important. Having a virtual coffee break or a Friday afternoon pub quiz with colleagues over a video call can really help everyone out, especially those isolating on their own. Seeing and chatting with others will really help their mental health so make sure to check in on all of your colleagues.

In terms of the work side of things has anyone uttered the words “Ah, that's in a document in the office and I can’t access it!” or similar? If so it sounds like maybe your setup hasn’t quite been flexible enough. Maybe for working in the same office as everyone else you had all of the information you needed at your fingertips was great but what about when forced to work away from the office?

One solution could be talking to an IT support company (we can recommend a couple) to discuss a central file store in the cloud would work for you. Alternatively, a bespoke CRM (Customer Relationship Manager) or business database would work better. In the past we’ve produced several systems to manage customer information and records, appointments, sales, invoicing, you name it. Based solely on your business, these systems enable colleagues to access the information they need from anywhere in the world so transitions like we’ve experienced recently become much smoother.

The new normal

Hopefully, we’ve given you some ideas above on how businesses no matter how big or small can survive this period of uncertainty. At the moment no-one has the answers as to what is going to happen, how long it is going to go on for, or what is going to come next but for the foreseeable future, this is the new normal.

Published: 14th Apr 2020

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