COVID-19 has entirely reshaped the structure of the business world, catapulting companies into a digital landscape, whether they were ready for it or not. Throughout history, large scale events have acted as catalysts for transformation, marking points of great social and economic change. COVID-19 is no different, having pushed business owners to grapple with a new reality and reengineer how to retain customers and bolster business in a volatile market.
With a looming second wave, what have businesses learned from the first time around?
The first wave of the pandemic hit hard, forcing business owners to think quickly and creatively about how to adapt, pivot and survive. The word “office” took on a whole new meaning as entire workforces began working from home and Zoom became an overnight sensation.
The successful flattening of the curve and a loosening of social distancing rules in June injected a wave of positivity back into people’s lives, but as we are seeing in Victoria and recently New South Wales, we are not out of the woods yet.
What we do now will determine our future. As we contemplate re-living the fear, stress and economic reality of a second COVID-19 wave, companies need to reflect on the lessons learned from the first lockdown, activate their business battle plans and get ready to fight through another round.
What has COVID-19 taught business owners?
1. Let your customers and employees know you’re still here
In times of great uncertainty, it is important not to go quiet. Make sure to keep your clients and the greater community in the loop. Update them on what strategies your business is using to adapt and how the company will move forward. Clear and consistent messaging helps to build trust and bolster customer confidence. Transparent and authentic communication are just as important internally, and you should make sure you are not leaving your employees in the dark.
2. Without an online presence, you’re almost invisible
The importance of an online presence is nothing new, however, the pandemic has intensified the utility of your digital footprint. An online presence empowers you to engage customers, build revenue, keep employees employed, and ultimately keep your business alive.
Now more than ever before, businesses will compete for sales in a new digital environment. For most brands, your website is a vital online asset. Keeping your website fresh and up-to-date with relevant news, pivoted offerings and even uplifting entertainment, is key for optimal customer experience and brand authenticity.
3. Social Media takes centre stage
With the business world is in a state of flux, now is the time to examine recent changes in consumer behaviour and what this time of unrest means for both individuals and organisations. Consider how you’re currently using your social media platforms and what value they’re delivering to your audience.
The pandemic has provided a real opportunity for businesses to connect, communicate and inspire your communities on social media. Your social channels can help to limit customer frustration, support people’s wellbeing, and provide intelligence for leaders looking for valuable insights and expert advice.
You don’t need to create an account on TikTok, Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, and every new app on the internet—go where your clients are. Identify the most important channels your audiences use and make sure you have a presence there!
4. Marketing in the midst of a crisis – mission-critical
The pandemic has rocked the world in more ways than one, placing business owners in a paradoxical marketing situation. Some businesses are scaling back their marketing efforts as an act of short-term preservation. Though it may feel like a ‘chicken and egg’ situation with regards to cash flow and revenue, studies have shown that in times of crisis, the strategic move is to increase your marketing spend rather than reduce it.
To pivot your marketing strategy amidst the pandemic and help keep your business thriving during trying times, embrace the opportunity to leverage the digital world, strengthen your branding and develop creative ways to market your organisation for success.
5. Necessity is the mother of reinvention!
Companies are being required to think outside of the box and reinvent their products, services and business models. Whether it’s developing an online e-learning platform, offering a contactless delivery service or creating new products to meet changing demand, don’t be afraid to explore something new. Whether you’re a young, agile startup or long-established enterprise, activating a nimble-footed approach to business strategy is essential for success in the new normal.
This too shall pass
As long as the grip of COVID-19 is still felt, businesses must continue to adapt to our new reality. The first lockdown threw us into a steep learning curve, but companies must now re-group and prepare to continue operating in a rapidly evolving world. To learn from these challenges will not only allow businesses to survive but will provide a unique opportunity for growth.