Why Small Businesses Must Shift to the Digital Space in Wake of COVID-19 | The Iman Project’s Bree Clark Tells Us Why
by Bree Clark | The Iman Project
With the current climate of COVID-19, small businesses and entrepreneurs must pivot into a time of innovation. This means shifting from relying on traditional strategies into more modern ones. A big solution to this problem is taking advantage of all that the digital space has to offer and creating new business goals around it. Companies that have embraced digital transformation are 26 percent more profitable than their peers.
First, it is important to learn and understand the true meaning of the word pivot. Even though it is widely used during these uncertain times, it’s good to know what it means to be effective when doing so. Right now, many business owners are in a productivity rush mindset where they’re trying to execute every option to stay afloat. Even during difficult times, do things that align with your passion and purpose. So, once this is all over your brand and business will stand stronger than ever.
Make sure that although business must undergo this shift, it doesn’t mean trying to make a quick fix. Take the necessary time to step back and plan objectives thoroughly. Communicate these actions with team members or relevant stakeholders to ensure a smooth shift.
Here are a few tips and ideas that small businesses and entrepreneurs should consider when shifting to the digital space:
Create Relevant Content. Now more than ever, it is time to create content online. Why? Because if we can’t connect in-person, the next best thing is virtually.
Keep in mind the importance of creating content that aligns with your brand. Consider what people want to see, hear, and engage with. Find the who, what, and when elements of your marketing plan by truly paying attention to your audience and followers. An article by Insights defines content marketing as a “type of digital marketing in which brands develop an on-going relationship with customers through content that is non-promotional and provides value at every touch.”
This also requires engagement. Although these may be difficult times for you, this is not a time to stop because it is hard. Continue to communicate and engage with those around you. This will strengthen the current relationships you have while creating new ones that wouldn’t have existed offline.
Consider Digital Gift Cards. If you have a physical or brick-and-mortar business, it’s time to consider taking your business and brand digital. One easy first step is offering digital gift cards. This allows businesses to generate revenue now and ensure business for the future. With platforms like Facebook rolling out new features for gift card setup, it’s best to hop on the trend sooner than later.
The shift into the digital realm may not come easy to those used to fully operating in the physical space, but converting to a digital business will put you at an advantage to your competitors when things go back to normal. Finding ways to make your product and business accessible to your customers, clients, and fans is vital. This is where they’re all searching for news that could relate to your industry, in other words, don’t ignore your buyer’s habits.
Cultivate Online Workshops. If you regularly ran workshops for your team members, buyers, partners, or anyone else related to your business operations, there’s still a solution for that. Practicing social distancing means that we cannot physically be with one another. However, you can move it to the digital space with video chats or online courses.
Take founder and director of creative events companies Make a Wish Entertainment and Fantasy Kids Clubs, Suzanne Vaughan, who shifted her business online during the COVID-19 crisis. In an article, she stated that all her events were ‘wiped overnight’ so she took quick action to prevent any more damage to the business. In late March, Vaughan moved her in-studio workshops to online Zoom classes where she hosts classes for children and families all over the world.
Shift your mindset to forward-thinking. Remember, as a business owner you have created something that is magical from the skills and passions that you believe in. So, to find out what you are good at, write down all your talents and see how it fits in your business plan. Don’t be afraid to write down your weaknesses, as well, because true strength is being able to see both.
Commence A Podcast. If you’ve been holding yourself back on starting a podcast, it’s time to reconsider. A study by Podcast Insights states that 55 percent of the U.S. population has listened to a podcast this year. The rise of the digital space continues to rise and your business is likely to feel the hit if you fall too far behind.
It doesn’t take much equipment to start (depending on your level of desired quality) and with platforms like Apple’s Podcasts and other streaming platforms, the process is simplified for any first time podcaster to understand. The point of this platform is to let the podcast be your voice. Whether it be as inspiration to those during these uncertain times or informative to those wanting to learn more, it’s the perfect way to stay social and build your audience.
Commit to Your Online Community. If there’s anything important for small business owners and entrepreneurs to take away from the pandemic, it’s the importance of community. During these times it is easy to get caught up in selling your product or service, but make sure the content your posting is adding some sort of value.
American Airlines is a great example of considering the community and posting content with purpose. In their latest social media posts, you’ll find videos highlighting the importance of their customers and how they’re shifting their business in response to COVID-19. It’s informational, entertaining, and encourages a sense of community. Take this idea of focusing more on what your business can do for the community instead of what the community can do for your business.
Another way to cultivate community is through newsletters. Businesses may be closed, but people are still receiving emails. Fill each with valuable and real-time information. It’s okay to be more lighthearted in these situations since the news is likely to be commenting on COVID-19 updates anyways. Being consistent with this allows audiences to stay in the know on what your next business step is. It’s an opportunity to be transparent and harness stronger connections with your community.
Control Your Productivity. Productivity does not equal worth. At times the true magic comes when we organically let things flow. This is not the time to focus on hard selling, but a time to truly connect with your community and audiences, and to share your passion and purpose with others. About 87 percent of small business owners say their businesses are hurting from COVID-19, and these steps are what can turn that around. Water all of the above and watch it grow because when it grows you will glow.
ABOUT THE WRITER:
Bree Clarke is the Founder of The Iman Project, an event based business that focuses on inclusion and diversity. The main service Clarke is known for is her workshops that focus on small businesses and entrepreneurs. For more information, please visit www.theimanproject.com.