The COVID pandemic has turned the economy upside down. As in any period of major upheaval, some businesses (Zoom and Amazon spring to mind!) that do very well, while others (most small businesses and certainly those operating in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors) have seen turnover fall off a cliff. For both Zoom and Amazon, they were fortunate. Their existing business models happen to be well suited to delivering services to people and markets in lockdown.
What is more interesting is the way that some businesses, faced with a huge decline, or even effective closure, of their existing business models, have used their capabilities, resources and market knowledge to adapt to the new economic environment. Additionally, given the speed with which lockdown was imposed, it has tended to me SME businesses who have the potential to be most agile, who have reacted most quickly, and are starting to see the benefit.
Agility with a short or long term view?
Many business owners recognise the need for change. Facing the reality of the pandemic, they are coming up with new ideas. Furthermore, they have acted. They have implemented their new ideas.
This said, I have seen businesses adapt in 2 distinct ways:
- Switch to a model simply to stay viable.
- Use lockdown as the incentive to develop a business which works in the short term but can have real benefit long into the future.
People in the first group are really just hanging on, waiting for things to return to ‘normal’. The problem is that no-one knows how long this might be. Certainly, all the indicators are looking encouraging at the moment but even so, the easing of the lockdown comes with warnings of the importance of continuing to maintain social distancing and quarantine for those who can’t. All this, and a spike in COVID cases could see lockdown being reimposed overnight.
I suspect that elements of lockdown will be with us for some time yet. It could be a long wait for normality.
Moving your business into the future
For other businesses, the lockdown has been a catalyst for real change. By embracing the challenges of the current climate and using them to ‘think differently’ some business owners are evolving their businesses in ways that mean they will never look back. Implementing changes effectively and sustainably can be made easier by working with reliable partners. We are proud to have supported numerous clients moving their businesses forward into the future. Let’s have a look at a few:-
1. The Retailer
Our client runs a retail business. Part of the business is a farm shop which means they were allowed to remain open during lockdown. However, in practice, business turnover dropped dramatically and footfall to eth shop was not sufficient. The business had a website which included a modest e-commerce facility but this was always an add-on to the main retail business. Up to the start of lockdown, online orders were running at only 1 or 2 per day. Look what happened in March….
From a ‘norm’ of 30-40 orders per month in January & February, order levels rocketed to 400 in March and nearly 600 per month since then. June is on track to sustain this jump inactivity.
The 10-fold increase in on-line orders created significant logistical challenges across the business. By providing effective website hosting and technical support, we were able to ensure that the website absorbed the huge growth in traffic and continued to perform effectively.
We are now looking forward to developing and implementing new marketing programmes over the coming months to continue the benefit to the business of a new online customer base.
2. The Conference Organiser
As an organiser of specialist technical conferences around the UK attracting up to 150 professional delegates, our client faced particular challenges to their business. Events arranged for the Spring had to be postponed. Also, it is looking increasingly likely that it will be impractical to host any further regional events before next year. Faced with potentially zero income for 2020, the owners decided to take their business online. Following initial discussions in mid-May, we set 25th June as the date for the first live webcast. We are working closely with our client and within 4 weeks we have delivered:
- A complete online delegate booking & payment management system
- Secure management of delegate registration
- Secure, controlled access to the webcast feed
- Ongoing technical support for the registration booking & payment system
- Ongoing marketing management and support for the event
All of the above is seamlessly integrated into the existing website. This is a real testament to the power and flexibility of WordPress.
Proof of the pudding
From the initial marketing launch of the event, there are now over 180 delegates registered, including people attending from as far away as Australia! While our support has helped deliver effective systems facilitating the event, we mustn’t forget that the key is top quality content. The webcast is being delivered by a highly respected leader in his field, our input is to make the online management system straightforward and effective so that it almost appears invisible. Read more about invisible technology here.
Into the future
The switch to online webcasts is undoubtedly a direct outcome of the lockdown. However, there are significant differences between a webcast and a ‘live’ event where there are valuable networking opportunities as well as the technical presentations. The plan is to restart the regional events as soon as practical but webcasts are likely to offer an additional service (and revenue!) channel into the future.
A couple of others….
The engineering service
Our client wanted to take his service offering into Europe. He saw the relative quiet of lockdown as the ideal opportunity to work with us. As a result, we have updated his website to deliver full multi-lingual capability and translated the site into German as a first step into Europe. The plan is to add more languages in due course. This staged approach allows planned expansion in a managed way.
Our client has developed a range of high-quality workbenches and CNC tool storage systems designed for engineering businesses and specialist hobbyists. We have worked with them to build and launch a full e-commerce website from the ground up.
Just do it! The value of effective implementation
The above are just some examples of how we work closely with clients to make things happen. Our goal is to help clients make their businesses better and easier.
We work with our clients to understand their business ideas and objectives. We then design, implement and deliver effective marketing and technical solutions to meet these objectives. Our services are the means, not the end.
We help make implementation happen. It is making it happen that gets results.
Please get in touch to discuss how we can help make sure your business development happens