Lessons small businesses should learn from the pandemic

Lessons small businesses should learn from the pandemic

COVID-19 undoubtedly threw a wrench into our plans for 2020 and sent many businesses into a tailspin. The ones who are still up and running today were able to make quick adjustments, such as dine-in restaurants that shifted to online ordering and in-person classes that moved to virtual learning sessions.

Now that vaccination programs are well underway, people will soon return to their favorite dining spots, shopping malls, movie theaters, and sports venues. However, after a year of doing many things online, consumers aren’t likely to let go of the conveniences they’ve come to enjoy when they’re online. While the shift toward digital has long been underway for many years now, this has been accelerated by the pandemic. The businesses that were able to survive and thrive are the ones that can impart the best lessons for our new normal. Let’s take a look at some of them now.

Innovate and improve

What the pandemic did was force small companies to reshape their business models to better adapt to their new environment. While such dramatic shifts don’t happen often, the core lesson taught was that being capable of change is key.

We’re not saying that your business ought to be capable of change just for the sake of change, but rather that your business can benefit from being able to innovate and improve on what you offer your customers. To illustrate, during the pandemic, people wanted to buy groceries, but were hesitant to spend time in enclosed spaces, so grocers offered to shop on their customers’ behalf and have customers receive their purchases at curbside pickup stations.

Curbside pickup has been offered by major grocery chains long before the pandemic began, but adopting it has been instrumental in the survival of smaller chains. This example illustrates how customer needs inform what small businesses need to be innovating or improving upon. Here, something as simple as customer satisfaction surveys can help. Questions like “How can we serve you better?” can lead to exciting ideas on what your business ought to try out next.

Remind customers that you exist

Because the pandemic forced people to stay home, people spent more time online than ever before. To meet customers where they are, businesses increased their digital marketing efforts in 2020.

“The surge in consumer adoption of Connected TV, ecommerce shopping, and at-home deliveries created the pendulum swing needed for digital media to continue growing. These are just some of the factors that contributed to ad dollars moving from traditional media to digital media.”
–Susan Hogan, Senior Vice President, Research and Analytics, IAB

And it’s not like people will be online less just because lockdowns are over. Before going to a new restaurant, people will check online reviews. While they’re already in a shoe store, customers will check if there are better prices offered by online merchants. The point is that if your customers are online, then your business ought to be marketing to them there.

If your small business doesn’t have the bandwidth to create the amount of marketing collaterals needed to keep you at the top of your customers’ minds, then it may be wise to outsource your digital marketing to an agency. You’ll want to send emails about your latest offerings and publish blog posts showing why your particular brand of service is what people need to solve their problems. Perhaps you also want to maintain a social media presence and churn out shareable content on YouTube and TikTok. Again, the key takeaway here is to know where your customers are, then to meet them there.

Conduct more business online

Beyond just increasing your online marketing efforts, consider actually doing more business online, too. At the height of the pandemic, people shopped online more and supported local restaurants that took online orders and delivered to their customers.

Nowadays, it’s not farfetched to say that customers won’t believe your business exists unless they can find you online. However, if yours is a brick-and-mortar business, you don’t need to take drastic measures right at the start. You can start small by having your store listed on online map services like Google Maps. Many of these map services can even integrate with your inventory management system so that customers looking for a particular product in certain locations can be pointed in the right direction.

More than this, find ways to sell your goods and services online if it makes sense for you to do so. This significantly expands your customer base and can cost-effectively grow your business. To illustrate, if you have a hot product and all you got was an Instagram account, then you’ll likely be bombarded with IG notifications all the time from people who want to order from you. However, if you put up an online store, then you’ll be able to sell your wares better, even while you’re sleeping.

Be it a pandemic or other event, businesses have to face all sorts of challenges all the time. When it comes to IT challenges, however, it’s best to let our experts at Athens Micro handle them for you. Let us be the IT partner that propels the growth of your business. Talk with our consultants to learn more.

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