Adapting Your In-person Business to Thrive Online
The COVID-19 quarantine is forcing more businesses online––whether they want to be there or not.
If you sustain your business with face-to-face interaction, that personal touch of a firm handshake, how do you make it work in the digital world?
The same strategies that worked for you offline can still work on the internet, but it takes a few careful tweaks. Even businesses with revenue streams supported by in-person interactions, like a tour guide company, can keep their business afloat online.
The trick is to remember that there’s a real person on the other side of your screen.
You can address the same problems of your customers, lean on other businesses in your industry, and offer opportunities for your customers to support your business––both now and later.
All you need to do is get started.
Solve the Same Customer Problems Through the Internet
Moving online doesn’t mean you need to reinvent your entire business. It’s better to stick to what you do best. What problems do you solve for customers in the real world? Is there a way to solve it through a screen? Try breaking down that problem into smaller pieces.
Say you’re a walking tour company in Boston. People walk around Boston on their own all the time, but they need your company to connect the city’s rich past to the present in interesting ways. You can do that online too.
- The walking company could write a series of blog posts with stories about tough times in Boston’s history. They could highlight how the city’s inhabitants felt to connect to the same feelings of their audience.
- A company that runs children’s summer camps could create an email series sharing fun activities to do at home each week.
- A fishing outfitter could create a video series that educates anglers on how to prepare for the season while they’re stuck at home, with tips for preparing gear or maintaining boats.
Lean on the Community Within Your Industry
Tough times bring people together. The other businesses in your industry are likely experiencing the same issues you are, so don’t be afraid to lean on them for support. One of you might have an idea that leads you all forward. At the very least, it can help highlight your business as an industry leader.
That community might lead to opportunities only available to a larger group. Have you ever tried to throw an event, like a festival or a convention, by yourself? The right partnership can help make it happen.
Create Your Own Community:
- Start a crowdsourcing campaign with other businesses. Work together to drive donations and split the rewards as equal partners.
- Create a convention, set for a later date, that brings together all of the companies within your industry. Invite customers and work together to showcase your industry as a whole.
Convert Your New Online Traffic Into Sales –– Now & Later
All of this new content marketing serves a purpose. Marketing only works when it drives revenue and your business needs to stay afloat during the COVID-19 quarantine. Your customers, both new and returning, want to support your business. Present them an opportunity to support you now with gift certificates they can use later. This may save some of your revenue.
To make up for the rest of the revenue gap, use the traffic from your new content marketing efforts to test new digital products and solutions. Now that your customers are home, what do they need from your business? Once the quarantine is over, you can create lookalike audiences on Facebook and Google Ads to market to similar people more likely to connect with your brand.
Be Ready When the Market Returns to Normal
Quarantine may feel like the new normal, but eventually everything will return to normal, even the market. Your business can use this time in isolation to improve your website, re-evaluate your digital marketing strategies and platforms, and finally take care of those tasks you’ve been avoiding.
When did you last update your website? If it’s stale, it might be time for a redesign. Take a look at your email program as well. Have you seen a dip in open or click rates over time? Create new sign-up pages or drip campaigns, or refresh your messaging to make a fresh impact. The goal is to be ready when customers start arriving so that your entire digital platform drives the maximum number of conversions.
Don’t Be Afraid to Address Current Events Honestly
While you’re marketing to your customers during the COVID-19 quarantine, lead with honesty. Don’t be afraid to showcase your struggle and your attempts to adapt. Highlight the real people behind your business. This helps to humanize your brand with customers.
When setting your new business goals, keep that same honesty in mind. It’s not reasonable to expect 100% of your customers to buy a gift certificate, but a portion of them might. Also, listen to your customers when they give you feedback. They may be giving you a much-needed solution or fresh idea. Pay attention to what your audience is saying on social media and don’t be afraid to jump in and join the conversation.
Start Communicating With Your Customers
Digital marketing helps your business connect to customers online. That interaction can inform your business as you create new products, test new messaging, and build unique audiences for the future.
The COVID-19 quarantine is changing the way we live, so it’s no surprise it’s changing the way we do business. Use this time in isolation to connect with your customers in new ways and really listen to what they need or look for from your business.
There are real people on the other side of the computer screen. Use the digital tools at your fingertips to help those customers in real, meaningful ways.