The pandemic reshaped our businesses – what’s here to stay?
We know the only constant in business is change, but rarely do things change as drastically as we have experienced over the last two years. When COVID-19 hit, our world was flipped upside down and shaken hard like a snow globe. Life as we knew it would not be the same.
Many companies were forced to make harsh cutbacks or close their doors. As sales suffered, strategies shifted. Those businesses that managed to stay afloat were forced to make a major pivot into new directions, with no looking back.
As we continue to move forward into this brave new world, it’s important to examine how doing business has changed – perhaps permanently – and how we can take lessons learned into the ‘new normal.’
- Digital Marketing Strategies
It’s no surprise that pandemic restrictions left many of us shopping from home. Businesses that did not have an online presence during this time certainly felt an impact. Not only did ecommerce-based businesses thrive during the pandemic, but they also benefited from a global reach with the opportunity to serve anyone anywhere the internet is available.
Our takeaway: having a user-friendly online store has never been so important and is well worth the investment to see your business expand. Determining which social platforms are best aligned with your audience, and then creating a consistent and cohesive digital marketing strategy is also crucial.
If you have a social media account that is inactive, it sends a message that you are either out of business or just not interested. Now is the time to find your voice and reach a broader audience than you ever thought possible. People are looking for you – are you showing up?
- Virtual Communication
Where would we be without virtual communication these last two years? Apps that allow us to connect digitally have dominated our lives with conferences, events, meetings, appointments, and just above everything else moving online. Zoom, Slack, Microsoft Teams and Facebook Messenger are just a few ways we’ve managed to stay connected to friends, family, colleagues, and customers.
Our takeaway: opening the channels of digital communication has never been so important. In previous years, Messenger requests and even emails could go ignored for far too long, or sometimes even left unread. It is vital to stay on top of these channels of communication, as well as offer your customers new ways to connect.
Furthermore, online workshops, presentations, Q&As, and other forms of engagement via Zoom, webinars, and social media live feeds are now the norm. How can you leverage these tools to create more meaningful connections with your desired audience?
- Investing in Cyber Security
Between an increase in ecommerce and more employees working from home, cyber-attacks have been on the rise – and social media accounts are more vulnerable to hacking than they’ve ever been before.
Our takeaway: allocating some of your budget towards technology and security is never a bad investment, even if you’re a small business. In fact, according to research from the IBC, “In 2021, 41% of small businesses that ever suffered a cyber attack reported that it cost them at least $100,000, up from 37% in 2019.” That is a substantial amount of money to go missing – don’t let it be you!
At the very least, ensure your passwords include a hard-to-hack series of letters, numbers and symbols, and use a password manager so you don’t have to remember them all.
- Cashless Payments
As businesses with brick-and-mortar locations know, there was a time when a lot of companies were not accepting cash at all. This temporary move transitioned into a lasting trend that continues to grow as tap became a more efficient way to pay. The rise of cryptocurrency tells us the future is cashless.
Our takeaway: Provide your consumers with more opportunities to just tap and go. Square card readers are an affordable solution and an excellent tool to have on hand for casual venues like local markets and pop-up events.
- Employee Wellness
Mental health and self-care have been trending topics for years. However, the pandemic brought these issues to the forefront. The symptoms of poor mental health have impacted the public at both ends of the spectrum, including those who have suffered from limited social interactions and others who have carried the stress of being an essential worker.
Even though life has returned to normal, or at least a new normal, many of us are still feeling the effects.
Our takeaway: compassionate companies that support their employees’ quality of life have a competitive edge. Flexible work arrangements, increasing vacation allowances, and implementing employee wellness programs will not only help your employees to avoid burn out, but will also make the workplace more enjoyable for a lower staff turn-over and a happier team overall.
Successful business owners know there’s always a silver lining to be found in every cloud. Responding proactively to change – leaning into it – ensures you find the opportunity in the challenge and don’t get left behind.