If you’ve even glanced at the news lately, you are undoubtedly aware that the coronavirus is spreading throughout the globe and causing havoc on the economy. Stocks are down, meetings are being cancelled, and business owners are trying to figure out what’s next.
While we aren’t in the business of providing medical advice, we can tell you what the next logical step is for your marketing plan: upgrade your website.
Whether the current outbreak turns out to be severe or is quickly contained, it’s clear that the disruptions to travel, supply chains, and live events are going to be real. With that in mind, making the most of your digital toolbox – starting with your company website – makes perfect business sense. Not only does it allow you and your customers to keep plugging ahead without travel or infection risk, but it saves you money in the meantime.
Let’s look at a handful of tips you can follow to keep your business running smoothly over the next few months…
Go All-in on Ecommerce
The one thing we are already seeing from the coronavirus outbreak is that many people are trying to limit their risk of exposure by avoiding unnecessary person-to-person contact. Businesses with good ecommerce platforms are likely to benefit.
It has never been easier to install things like shopping carts, merchant accounts, and sophisticated online retailing systems into a business website. There are more choices than ever before, and the majority of them are quite inexpensive. So, if you haven’t already been selling products over the web – or haven’t made a full-fledged effort to profit from those online sales – this is a good time to change course.
We should point out that you don’t necessarily have to sell physical goods to make e-commerce work. Lots of our past clients have turned digital products, consulting packages, and other types of services into a source of web-based revenue. No matter what you do or sell, there is probably a way to allow your favorite customers to buy it online. Finding the answer is often a matter of creativity and experience. In other words, we can help you find the solution.
Another benefit of focusing your attention on e-commerce in 2020 is that the increase sales (and lowered costs) could remain for years to come. Once your customers get used to the idea that they can buy from you conveniently through a website or app they might not want to go back. In fact, they may keep placing orders and sending you referrals long after the coronavirus has ceased to be an ongoing concern.
There are lots of good reasons to accept orders from your website regardless of what’s happening with the economy. With the way things are shaping up at the moment, it’s even more prudent for business owners to plan ahead, cut costs, and maximize their potential for sales without face-to-face contact.
Use the Web to Support Your Sales Team
Even experienced and proficient sales teams may struggle in the coming months, particularly if they are used to closing deals through in-person meetings and presentations. However, business owners and executives can make things easier by providing them with the tools they need to close new orders without having to be physically present.
The specific tools your sales people need might vary by industry and situation. However, it’s a virtual certainty they could benefit from online demonstration tools, access to videoconferencing schedule apps, and real-time inventory and proposal generators. Each of these allows your sales force to present products and services to potential clients more comprehensively through phone, email, and other electronic mediums. In other words, they make them more effective in situations where agreements can’t be closed over a handshake.
Strong downloadable materials (such as white papers or reports) can help in the same way, as can a library of videos that show off product sizes or unique features. You could also post material from happy customers or clients who can tell your story in a way that sounds natural and compelling.
In a bigger-picture sense, this might also be a good time to review your lead generation and sales messaging tactics. Having strong search engine optimization and social media campaigns can keep opportunities coming in even as trade shows, demonstrations, and live events are canceled. And, focusing on lower prices or verifiable case studies can help push prospects into action at a time when they are facing their own revenue challenges. You want to show them that what you sell is the best choice in a tight economy.
Your website probably can’t replace your sales team, but it can make their jobs easier by presenting them with qualified sales opportunities and giving them options to present without being physically present.
Embrace Online Meeting Platforms
Businesses and associations are already taking steps to reduce large gatherings and personal physical contact. As a result, meetings are being canceled around the world, from small gatherings to major conferences. It’s unlikely that this part of the business world will go back to normal in the near future.
However, just because traditional meetings are going away, that doesn’t mean that the need to bring people together will disappear as well. If anything, it will be even more important to ensure that groups and individuals are working on the same page to overcome the logistical challenges that can arrive when lots of people are ill, supply chains are disrupted, and markets are behaving chaotically. Business people are going to meet differently, but they aren’t going to stop getting together.
All of this points to a greater dependence on online meeting solutions. They will be needed to fill the gap left by physical gatherings of people.
From video-conferences to webinars and online training sessions, businesses are going to have to find ways to keep spreading information that doesn’t require travel or tightly packed rooms. You can bet they’ll start looking to webcams and high-speed connections.
Your company can get a jump on this by not only subscribing to these tools, but also mastering them. That means investing in the right kinds of equipment, making sure the employees know how to use them, and even having dedicated spaces (with good sound and few distractions) for web meetings.
Businesses that do online communication are going to have a distinct advantage in the coming months. And once again, the skills and processes they develop may benefit them for years to come even after the current coronavirus outbreak has ceased to be a concern.
Make Life Easier for Your Employees
Whenever there is a major disruption to the economy, the natural instinct that business owners and executives have is to focus on the revenue side of the equation. That’s understandable, because it tends to be something lots of small and medium-sized companies worry about even in the best of times. With regards to coronavirus worries, though, it’s worth noting that managing employees could turn out to be a significant challenge.
Naturally, any illness that includes flu-like symptoms could cause team members to miss time. Whether they become ill themselves, have to care for family members, or are dealing with the effects of canceled services like school or travel, there is the potential for them to be away from their desks unexpectedly. You can use your website to make life easier for them and help your business in the process.
What can you do to assist the men and women who keep your business moving forward? The easiest way to find answers is to think of them as if they were customers. What would they want to work more efficiently with your company?
In addition to making the most of online meeting tools as we’ve already indicated, another step you might consider is integrating password-protected parts of your website for employees and vendors. You could use these to handle tasks like file-sharing, scheduling, payroll, and more. You could also improve email security and implement tools like voicemail-to-text, so they have an easier time working from home. You may even give them limited access to production or inventory schedules so they can keep up with vendors and customers.
Your employees can be a strength and asset during an economic disruption, or they can make a difficult situation even harder to manage. Usually, the difference lies in the kind of support you give them as they attempt to do their jobs and stay on top of details.
Is Your Business Ready to Move Past Disruptions?
If there is one thing we’ve learned in our 25+ years of experience with Houston web design and online marketing, it’s that the world of business keeps moving forward even when facing the unexpected. Very few people could have imagined that coronavirus would be a hot topic early in 2020, but we can predict that the smartest companies will adapt and overcome the way they always do. Will yours be one of them?
If you want to explore smart, cost-effective strategies to put your website at the front of your sales and marketing strategy over the next few weeks, contact us today. We will be happy to schedule a free phone consultation and develop a customized plan you can use right away.
About Glenn Brooks
Glenn Brooks is the founder of WebWize, Inc. WebWize has provided web design, development, hosting, SEO and email services since 1994. Glenn graduated from SWTSU with a degree in Commercial Art and worked in the advertising, marketing, and printing industries for 18 years before starting WebWize.