How COVID-19 Changed Business Forever

It’s easy to say that COVID-19 has changed virtually every aspect of life in the past nine months. However, while some temporary measureslike social distancing, mask-wearing, and avoiding public gatheringswill probably fade away, some other changes will be permanent.

In our business, it’s easy to see how the pandemic emphasized the importance of having a strong website. Even though some entrepreneurs will be anxiously waiting for things to go back to “normal,” we think many of the shifts are irreversible. In other words, all the reasons your website was critically important to your company in 2020 will continue into the future. That’s because we were already moving towards a digital-first business landscape.

As a full-service agency, we deal with everything: print ads, branding, package design, and digital strategies. But this year has been all about online business. The internet has been critically important to marketers for years, of course, but current circumstances have shown what is possible and accelerated a trend that was already in motion.

What does this mean for you and your business going forward? Let’s look at a few things that are already becoming apparent…

Your Website is the Primary Point of Contact for Your Business

In many ways, your website is your most important piece of real estate, your best employee, and your biggest source of referrals all in one. That’s because it can be seen and interacted with by many times more visitors than you, your building, or all of your employees combined. That’s especially true if you’re using search engine optimization and social media to their fullest powers.

When you have a strong website in place it enhances your credibility. It’s easier for people to trust you, and to understand the unique advantages of your products or services. In order to gain these benefits, though, your website has to actually be impressive. It also helps if you can use interactive toolslike online chat and real-time social media feedsto engage visitors from the first moment they arrive.

It’s Not Just about Looks Anymore

Although we are in the “business web design” industry, we recognize that term has become something of a misnomer. That’s because the design (or aesthetics) of a website are no longer the primary or only consideration. What you can do with your pages is just as important as the way they look.

We’ve already mentioned the big benefits that come with using online chat to engage with visitors directly in real-time. What we have also seen this year is that ecommerce plugins, online scheduling tools, and video training modulesto name just a fewcan all make a website more valuable. These kinds of features boost revenue, save money, and make it more convenient for customers to do business with you.

COVID-19 Will Pass but Digital Business is Here to Stay

Speaking of decreased costs and increased revenue, it’s important to remember that bottom-line considerations have been driving business website upgrades for many years. There are a lot of business owners out there who only made changes to their websites out of necessity in 2020. Now that they’ve seen the benefits, though, they won’t be going back.

There aren’t many silver linings to the struggles we have seen in 2020. However, it’s never a bad thing when entrepreneurs and executives can discover lasting ways to find customers or save money. That’s why it’s a safe bet that the “new normal” of relying on business websites is going to be with us even as the pandemic stops being an ongoing concern.

Two Business Lessons from the Covid Crisis

Two Business Lessons from the Covid Crisis

The coronavirus pandemic is less than two months old (at least in the U.S.), but it’s already obvious it will leave a lasting legacy. There are some parts of our “new normal,” like remote working and the recognized importance of hand washing, that will likely stay with us for a long time. When looking at the immediate business lessons of a still-unfolding crisis, though, things are even simpler. In fact, there are two takeaways that really stand out—even though they aren’t new or imaginative. Let’s look at each one.

Lesson #1: Build a Strong Brand

Branding is often treated as a generic marketing catch-all term, or something that boils down to re-designing a logo. What we mean in this sense is that you need to have a definite identity that leads customers to think about you in a positive way.

What we see in the marketplace right now is that buyers are consciously choosing to help the companies and brands they like the most. That’s particularly true when they decide to shop and support local businesses. There are certain entrepreneurs or employees they want to see succeed and will keep buying from them even when money is tight.

Of course, this isn’t the easiest time to be building deeper relationships with customers. The brands that are doing well—whether they are Fortune 500s or single-person venturesare the ones who did the hard work of establishing themselves as friendly and accessible before their survival depended on it.

Lesson #2: Diversify Your Business

The companies being hit hardest right now are the ones without multiple sources of income. If your way to make money involves having diners for a four-course meal, then your bottom line is probably hurting.

Conversely, businesses that have invested in online sales are hanging in there. Others have positioned themselves to offer expertise and consulting in addition to their normal product and service lines. Some are partnering with colleagues to create new packages that offer more value. These are all good ideas in an economy where certain types of markets or transactions have virtually disappeared.

While it takes years to develop the right brand or reputation, adding new income streams to your business. For example, e-commerce or app development, which can be a nice way to diversify your income. Now is a great time for you to start thinking about other ways to make money for your employees & yourself.

7 Urgent Steps for Marketers in the Covid Economy

As the coronavirus has taken over first the news, then our attention, and finally the economy, clients have come to us again and again with one question: “what now?”

The answer depends of course on the situation a business owner or executive is facing. For some, a Covid recession is a major event. For others, it’s a sad reality but not a huge business concern.

If you have the kind of company that is relatively unaffected by the current pandemic, then you might not be concerned with changing strategies or tactics. For all the rest of us, though, here are seven urgent steps you might want to take today if you haven’t already:

1. Don’t Panic or Make Rash Decisions You Might Regret

One of the worst things you can do, in this crisis or any other, is complicate matters by enacting quick decisions that compound the issue. This is a time to think clearly about what’s possible, what’s likely, and which opportunities or obstacles lie ahead. Take some time to get clear about what you’re facing and what you want to accomplish. Only then should you make strategic decisions.

2. Start Using Your Email Newsletter to Communicate

This is no time to be quiet or leave your customers wondering what you can or can’t do for them. While we would encourage you to reuse any outreach tools you have at your disposal; email is particularly well-suited for fast and effective communication. Let buyers know what’s happening with your business, even if nothing has changed. That way you won’t miss out on business because they have assumed you are cutting back.

3. Reach Out to Your Best Customers through Social Media

While email will probably be the preferred method of communication for the moment, don’t overlook the power of social media to connect with your best customers, clients, vendors, or partners. Some of them may prefer to communicate through these channels. And, sending a note through Facebook or LinkedIn (as examples) is more personal than reaching them through an email blast.

4. Look for Opportunities to Sell and Serve Your Market

Don’t assume there isn’t any business to be found in your industry, or that you know exactly what your customers want. Reach out to some of them and see if there are new opportunities to make your company a more valuable partner or resource. It might be that there are lots of ways you can serve buyers, or the community, that aren’t immediately obvious.

5. Investigate New Customers and Sales Opportunities

If your customers and clients are slowing down, don’t simply take it as a given that you will have to do the same. It may be that you are able to serve other markets (for instance, hospitals or delivery companies) who are doing a thriving business right now. Often, it just takes a bit of creative thinking and investigation to identify new sales opportunities, even in a downturn.

6. Cut Off Any Non-Performing Ads or Campaigns

We started our tips by advising you not to make any rash decisions. However, that’s not the same as saying you should stay still. If there are marketing campaigns or activities that just aren’t going to work in the current economy, then this is the time to pause or discontinue them. Don’t let your money go towards projects that aren’t going to benefit your business for many months to come.

7. Take Advantage of the Downtime to Get Better

One of the things that makes marketing hard is that most business owners and executives don’t have time to read books, take courses, or think about projects like a website overhaul. If there is any small silver lining to what’s going on in the world it’s that we have the opportunity to step back and be more intentional about our plans. Where do you want to be in a few months, and what can you do to make it happen?

COVID-19 Email Scams

During this rapidly evolving COVID-19 pandemic, when we should be coming together as a people, others have decided to use people’s fear for their malicious benefits sending email scams.

There have been clickbait emails circulating. Clickbait is designed to attract your attention and entice you to click on a false link which is very deceptive. Some emails are disguised as coming from WHO, World Health Organization, and the CDC, Center for Disease Control. Others emails are promising vaccines, the cure, and securing donations.

Take these measures to protect yourself from email scams and your emails from being hacked.

  1. Mouse over any links being sent to you and see if you are being directed to a non-credible website. 
  2. Check the email for any typos or spelling errors.
  3. Act as if you are going to reply to the email. Notice that the reply-to email address may not be from who you thought was the original sender. This is a good practice for testing if a suspicious email is really spam or legitimately from someone you know.
  4. Don’t open attachments. The attachment may contain malware.
  5. Use your auto-updates. This will ensure that your mobile, tablet, and desktop have the up-to-date antivirus software.
  6. And of course the safest action to take is to simply delete the email.