To say the world of business has seen a tricky few months would be an understatement, but there are some brave entrepreneurs out there who are forging their path in the digital sphere. Here, we take a closer look at how tech-minded entrepreneurs and business owners are negotiating their way through the Corona-19 pandemic.
Inventiveness and being digitally savvy
The catastrophic impact of Covid-19 to life and livelihood, as well as the ongoing threat of more returning-waves, makes for a very uncertain world. Risk-taking business moves amidst an economic meltdown seems foolhardy at the very least. However, in the hardest of times people have shown great resolve and ingenuity and succeeded against the odds. Right now, there is a new emerging breed of digitally-savvy entrepreneurs who are trying their luck and skill in the online space.
eCommerce opportunities are birthing a spirit of ingenuity amongst people who have recently lost their jobs or businesses, it has risen up and out of the lockdown and is very much alive-and-kicking. The digital world is growing at some pace, everything is moving onto a digital platform and printed cash is set to be a faded memory.
The digital phenomenon brings hope for the future with the promise of fast income; income that in the past would take a life-time to build is now being actualised at light-speed, literally! These would-be entrepreneurs are looking to seize a share of the online market that they have seen growing in certain pocketed sectors.
As we all know some sectors aren’t surviving, there’s a tremendous gap between non-virtual and virtual businesses which appears to be widening. Clothing retailers such as Debenhams and Marks and Spencer are announcing store closures left and right with the inevitable loss of people’s jobs; indeed, any business that operates in the physical world or on a ‘face to face’ basis has not been spared. Car dealership sales are purportedly down by 90%, the hair and beauty sector has been shut down until their tentative recent reopening.
Hospitality, airlines have all been affected, manufacturing, construction and supplier businesses across the board have been hit with supply-chain cessation and material importing issues. The thousands of SMEs/self-employed are not faring much better – with many seeing their clients and cash flow literally disappear.
On the other hand, ‘virtual’ retail giants such as Amazon and Walmart Inc. are taking shares away from the ‘bricks and mortar’ stores due to an upsurge in online purchases (source SP Global) since March this year. It seems certain online businesses are doing very well since coronavirus hit our planet – food suppliers being the obvious one, online courses, online therapies via Zoom, online gaming are all in ascendance. eBooks sales are doing very well; one digital publisher claiming a 66% sales growth from June 2019 to June 2020 (source Publish Drive) and the lending banks have never seemed busier.
With this upsurge in digital activity and sales, and with the direction heading more and more online, many business owners and new entrepreneurs are investing more heavily and becoming more inventive in digital marketing.
Rachel Joy Gott, founder and CEO of leading PR and digital marketing agency All Round Communications (ARC North), is currently seeing a large increase in digital marketing enquiries, she told LLM – Luxury Lifestyle Magazine: “I’m talking with business owners daily and what I am seeing right now is that they are using the time since Corona started to re-set their businesses and ultimately their lives. The entrepreneurial clientele I hear from – without exception – are all are becoming more inventive and digitally savvy. They are investing and adjusting their service offering and marketing plans to capture the current and future digital market growth.
“More people than ever before ask me about how to best communicate their brand online – be it a new website, eCommerce, changing the content on their existing website, video scripting, social media, SEO, email campaigns etc., and of course press relations in upmarket digital publications such as Luxury Lifestyle Magazine!”
Adjusting to suit a digital world
A detailed example of where adjustments in digital marketing and client communications has been applied is in the hair and beauty sector. Rachel explains: “My salon owner clients are employing a better, more engaged digital strategy. Communications with their existing clients has been key during the lockdown to ensure they retain their clients’ loyalty. The improved quality of communication has been achieved because the salon owners have had the time to really focus; whilst not having an active salon operating.
“By also keeping in touch with clients in a more scheduled way through SMS, email news, social media, videos, Zoom calls, Facebook and Facebook Live, videos and their online appointment booking apps, they have managed to maintain relational buoyancy and kept their clients’ trust about returning to a safe and hygienic salon.
“With retailed orientated email campaigns they have increased online product purchases much more than previously when the client could simply collect their beauty products whilst having their hair or beauty treatments in the salon. They have upped their game in social media content too, being more thought-through and purpose driven rather than just spontaneous content showcasing before and after treatment photos. Communications has changed to be more client-orientated, reassuring new safety practices and how they will ensure strict hygienic measures in the salon environment.
“Client care is shining through in their communications, clients in return have appreciated the contact and the care shown by staff as many clients have been isolated with little communication during this time. With the likelihood of more lockdowns, both salons and clients will need a flexible and efficient approach to appointment booking. The process of re-scheduling appointments previously would have entailed a receptionist to call clients to rebook one by one, now online appointment booking apps will be more actively used as they offer a more efficient way and prevent potential human error when the receptionist may be pressured at short notice.
“Another advantage is that the client will be the one to manage their own appointments with their online account. Frequent email and SMS communications will help manage the COVID situation with safety precautional reminders, and potential salon closure notifications – these will now be essential in this sector.”
An untapped digital frontier
As we hurl at break-neck speed into a more digitally-centred world, smart business owners and entrepreneurs are aligning their businesses with a 360° digital approach to serve better the needs of existing clients and to seek out the unlimited opportunities in this vast and virtual frontier.