HUDSON VALLEY – As more and more brick and mortar stores are severely limiting their operations or closing their doors completely, it is becoming crucial for businesses to adopt a new method of operating: virtually.
Our inability to communicate with each other in person necessitates a transition into an online space, relying more heavily on virtual contact with our clients.
Here are a few tips to make the most of the current situation, as well as some tools and resources that you might find useful.
Hone your message
The most important thing is to maintain your relationship with your existing clients. There are a few key points you can choose to communicate, using the various methods we’ll discuss below.
- “We need to close for now but we can’t wait to get back into business.” – Let your customers know how much you want to serve them, how you look forward to hitting the saddle as soon as things settle down, and that their health and safety are your top priority and concern.
- “We are still in operation, but here are some changes we’ve made” – explain to clients how they can still reach you, for example via delivery or curbside pickup. Make sure they know what measures you have taken to make sure you and your staff are keeping yourself and them safe, including special procedures or processes that you’ve put into place.
- “Here is how we’re giving back to the community” – whether you are currently open or closed, you might choose to contribute your time or resources to assist others in these times. Let your clients know that you care and what kind of difference you have made.
Challenging times are an invitation to think out of the box. Businesses all over the country are pivoting and adapting to their new situations – from markets moving outdoors to studios teaching virtual classes. It may seem that all is lost, or that there is no way you can deliver your core business in the current circumstances.
Don’t give up.
Take some time to brainstorm creatively, by yourself or with others, and think of a way to creatively continue to contribute your knowledge, skills, or resources to the community. Hearing about what others are doing can help you find inspiration, and you might be surprised by what you come up with.
Make sure your website is up to speed
Your online presence begins with your website. This is your own private turf in the online world which you can customize to express your own unique style and needs.
If you don’t yet have a website, or if it’s been a few years since you last gave your site a facelift, now is the time to make sure your website looks as professional as you are.
Consider writing a blog post with a message to your customers, and making sure that your contact info and operating hours are updated.
Platforms like Squarespace or Weebly allow complete beginners to start building a website. If you want something a bit more powerful and professional, consider a website built in WordPress, which powers over 30% of the entire web. We recommend hosting your site with DreamHost and then using a powerful theme called Divi that makes it very easy to design your own website.
Brush up your social media accounts
With so many people at home, and people constantly looking to stay updated, more attention than ever before is being pointed to social media. Make sure to post regularly to the social media channels your users are using the most, and keep them updated about what you are up to. You want to stay top of mind so that when things go back to normal, everyone bounces right back into your business’ open arms.
If you do need more professional help, Fiverr is a great affordable site to find a freelancer to assist you, and companies like My Content Co can help manage your social media for you for a low monthly rate.
Harness emails to stay in touch
Email marketing is one of the most effective methods of communication. It’s also one of the only ways that is not controlled by an external algorithm like Facebook. If you have an email list, work on growing it and send out regular updates to your subscribers.
If you don’t have one, now is the time to start! We recommend Mailchimp as a great way to start; they are free for less than 2,000 subscribers.
There are a myriad of online tools that allow you to communicate with clients and followers. Zoom has been very popular over the last few weeks, but another great option is Whereby, and of course, Skype.
If you would like to broadcast live and share the video later bot Facebook and YouTube offer that option, so you can capitalize on a live broadcast but then make the most of your content in the future as well.
Consider hosting a webinar to educate your clients, continue offering services virtually, or just drop people a line to stay in touch.
Start selling online
There’s a variety of creative ways you can start making money online, whether it’s offering online ordering options and then delivering it to your clients, or selling access to online courses and digital experiences. Some businesses are using the opportunity to sell gift cards, where users buy now but make the order later, others are developing a subscription model to create recurring revenue.
Stores like Shopify can be a great way to quickly start selling online, and websites built in WordPress have a variety of sophisticated plugins you can install that can extend your website into a virtual store, selling everything from products to digital downloads to memberships – and everything in between.
Just keep clicking!
The most we can do in our current situation is make the best of it. This means using creativity, resourcefulness, and tenacity to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Use this time to take your business to the next technological level – you might find you keep using more technology to grow your business even after things go back to normal.
If you need assistance in adapting technology to your business, don’t hesitate to send us an email or shoot us a line with the form below.
Disclaimer: the links above may contain affiliate links which would result in a small commission for us if you used the service. We only recommend platforms that we have personally vetted – and often use daily for our needs.