“Let’s stop the reign of the Corona Virus”. This is the caption my 9-year old daughter came up with for the Corona Virus poster she did for her school-from-home assignment. Coz corona means crown, geddit? Pretty solid word-play from a 9-year old.
However, there are no words that can adequately describe the impact and scale of the Corona Virus or Covid-19, especially as the whole world is still in the middle of fighting this invisible enemy. What is becoming evident is that for Mother Earth, Covid-19 may not be its enemy but a respite from the real virus. the Human Virus. A reset of all the excesses that was seemingly unstoppable just a few months ago.
As business owners, the spread of Covid-19 and the ensuing lockdown is forcing us to face a number of harsh realities. Many businesses are facing the unfortunate choice of an almost complete stop in operations, especially during Malaysia Movement Control Order (MCO). However, businesses with solid digital presence are still able to continue their business online. For the rest, this is the best time to reset their business and start shifting to a click and mortar model and less so of a brick and mortar one. Here are a few steps to help you on that path of digitalising your business.
First, it’s important to take stock of your current digital readiness and to reinforce your digital assets and channels. Do you have an optimised website that is well integrated with your social media accounts, email marketing platform and other marketing tools that maximise your reach, discoverability and brand awareness? Are your digital marketing efforts converting to sales and giving you a healthy return-on-investment or ROI? Are you able to track any of these things? If your answer is anything but a resounding yes, then you’re not ready and sorting out your marketing stack is the first step in your digital reawakening.
Second, you need to innovate and adapt your offering to enable a higher degree of digital fulfilment. For businesses selling physical products, this means enabling online purchases with delivery, either by their own staff or in partnership with delivery services. For those providing content, coaching, consultancy or creative design, your main delivery method would be via video conferencing, webinars, video content, podcasts and chats.
The challenge for physical services is much harder. Barbers, cleaners, plumbers, electricians, massage therapists as the list goes on. The only viable option for them would be to promote pre-sale vouchers or gift coupons for utilisation after the lockdown. For all businesses, what’s critical is getting the right combination of product and services that customers are willing and able to purchase online. Then, make sure your operations are adjusted accordingly to ensure successful fulfilment.
Thirdly, you need to revise your marketing strategy and shift away from direct marketing, events or Out-of-Home (OOH) to digital. That’s obvious. What’s not so obvious is the need to adjust your messaging to be more Covid-19/MCO-sensitive. Any hard-selling or insensitive promotions may cause a backlash and be damaging in the short and long run. It’s also important to ramp-up your customer service team so that customers can get the right answers at the right time either via your website, social media, phone lines, email or chat.
Lastly, execute your promotion with compelling content that has the right balance of relevant information and tasteful creativity to ensure that your promotion stands out for the right reasons. A certain public service announcement invoking a fictional robotic cat comes to mind as an example of simply not getting that balance right.
It is important that your content engages audiences beyond just product promotion as this window of opportunity, where your audiences are mainly at home with a less hectic schedule than usual, doesn’t come often. Most importantly, do ensure that your digital channels and processes are aligned so that the compelling content you are sharing leads to higher engagement that creates the requisite number of leads for immediate and future purchases.
There are no robotic cats with magical powers that can help businesses to weather global pandemic such as Covid-19. However, there is no better time for businesses to reset and kick-start their digital shift. All it needs is a pinch of the right strategy, a dollop of creativity and a mountain of sheer will to get it done.